WELCOME TO IWPR'S REPORTING CENTRAL ASIA, No. 493, May 22, 2007
TURKMENISTAN: MULTIPLE PIPELINES STILL POSSIBLE Russia has scored a major coup
by getting its preferred gas pipeline deal signed first, but analysts say other
routes to Europe and China are still possible. By Abdujalil Abdurasulov in
KAZAKSTANS KRISHNA COMMUNITY FACES EVICTION Long-running saga takes a new
turn as the Supreme Court says Hare Krishnas do not own the land they have
settled. By Abdujalil Abdurasulov in Almaty
KYRGYZ OPPOSITION RUNS OUT OF STEAM The opposition appears to have lost its
momentum following April's turbulent protests, although some analysts think a
period of reflection would do everyone good. By Astra Sadybakasova in Bishkek
TAJIK MEDIA SHORT OF JOURNALISTS Universities lack the modern teaching methods
to turn out high-calibre graduates to work as journalists. By Saodat Asanova
and Nafisa Pisarejeva in Dushanbe
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IRAQ PHOTO DIARIES, NIGHT RAIDS: Peter van Agtmael documents the late-night
raids carried out by American and Iraqi troops against the homes of suspected
insurgents. This series of photographs was awarded a 2nd place in the General
News Stories category at the World Press Photo Awards in 2007.
2007 KURT SCHORK AWARDS: IWPR has launched the call for this years entries for
the Kurt Schork Awards in International Journalism. The awards honour fearless
freelance news reporting and local journalists who cannot leave their country
when the story becomes secondary to survival.
Full details of the 2007 awards and how to enter may be found on the Kurt
Schork Award pages on IWPRs website www.iwpr.net
NEWS BRIEFING CENTRAL ASIA is a new concept in regional reporting, comprising
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TURKMENISTAN: MULTIPLE PIPELINES STILL POSSIBLE
Russia has scored a major coup by getting its preferred gas pipeline deal
signed first, but analysts say other routes to Europe and China are still
By Abdujalil Abdurasulov in Almaty
The agreement reached by the presidents of Russia, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan
to build a gas pipeline from the Caspian shore to Russia has been hailed by the
international media as a Russian victory over the West.
The excitement generated by the trilateral deal, which presidents Vladimir
Putin of Russia, Kazakstans Nazarbev and Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov signed at
a May 12 summit in the Caspian port of Turkmenbashi, stems from the belief that
this agreement puts paid to a projected alternative route, the Trans-Caspian
Gas Pipeline, TCGP.
The European Union has been lobbying for the TCGP, which would be laid under
the Caspian Sea to Azerbaijan and would not go through Russian territory.
Russia registers victory in Caspian basin energy game, declared EurasiaNet,
while the Washington Times referred to the deal reached in the city of
Turkmenbashi as a victory for Moscow over US and European plans for the
Reacting to the deal on May 14, United States energy secretary Samuel Bodman
said the deal was not good for Europe, which needs to diversify its sources
But analysts interviewed by IWPR are downplaying the importance of the pipeline
deal. They say it does not necessarily rule out the TCGP, or indeed any of the
other pipelines that might be built to bypass Russia.
Currently, all Central Asian gas shipped to Europe comes through Russia.
Gazprom, the countrys giant gas producer, owns and operates the Soviet-era
Central Asia-Centre, CAC, pipeline which carries the gas. Gazprom has a deal in
place that commits Turkmenistan to increase exports to reach 90 billion cu m by
2028. At the moment, Russia takes 50 billion cu m of Turkmenistans annual
production of 65 billion cu m.
The May 12 agreement will provide greater capacity for getting the extra gas
out. It will initially entail the reconstruction of an existing western branch
of the CAC running along the shore of the Caspian Sea, taking Turkmen gas via
Kazakstan to Russia. President Putin said this would carry 10 billion cu m a
year, and a parallel, new pipeline would be laid alongside it to boost overall
capacity. Putin said a full agreement would be signed by July.
For Europe, the importance of alternatives to Russian energy supplies was
underlined in January 2006, when deliveries of Russian gas to large parts of
western Europe were disrupted due to a pricing conflict between Moscow and
Ukraine a development which created some concern in Europe about Russias
Planning for the TCGP, which would go west rather than north, began back in
1998 when the US funded a feasibility study for the project, but last years
supply worries have reinvigorated the plan. If constructed, the pipeline would
take Turkmen and possibly Kazak gas across the Caspian to feed into existing
transit routes to Turkey.
In addition to the TCGP, however, there are a number of other projects on the
drawing board for pipelines that would get Turkmen gas to market without
One reason why the late Turkmen president Saparmurat Niazov and his successor
Berdymuhammedov might harbour an interest in alternative routes is gas pricing.
Last year, Ashgabat succeeding in getting Gazprom to agree to a price hike to
100 US dollars per 1,000 cu m but the Russian firm still sells the gas on at
a markup of around 100 per cent, and there is little the Turkmen can do about
In April 2006, Niazov signed an agreement to construct a pipeline to China that
carried an obligation to sell 30 billion cu m annually once it is up and
Other proposals exist one for a pipeline going through Afghanistan to
Pakistan and on to India, and another that would circumvent Afghan territory by
running through Iran to Pakistan. The former is an unlikely prospect as long as
Afghanistan remains unstable, while US opposition is likely to block the
Iranian option for the foreseeable option.
Oksana Antonenko of the London-based International Institute for Strategic
Studies says that for Europe, weaning itself off its reliance on Russian oil
and gas remains a priority.
Europe is concerned that Russia may use its energy resources for political
purposes [against Europe], she said.
But the TCGP project itself faces a number of hurdles, says Annette Bohr, an
expert on Turkmenistan and an associate fellow of the Royal Institute of
International Affairs, also in London. These include strong opposition from
Russia, uncertainty about the size of the gas reserves and the production
capacity needed to make the pipeline viable, and the environmental concerns
associated with undersea construction.
Bohr points out that the new deal has not yet been backed by a contract
containing the fine details, and so it is a long way from implementation.
John Roberts, an energy security specialist with Platts Energy Services, agrees
with this view, saying that while the Russian-Kazak-Turkmen agreement is an
important development, it does not signal the end of other proposed pipelines.
He explains that the gas that will be transported via this pipeline is unlikely
to come from the mainstream Turkmen reserves that all the big players are
fighting for. He said that the gas will not come from the major fields in
southeast Turkmenistan or indeed other parts of the country. Instead, the gas
for this pipeline will be produced from fields operated by foreign companies
like Dragon Oil, Petronas Carigali and Burren Energy. Roberts says these
companies have a prior arrangement with the Turkmen government to send their
gas to Russia.
The initial capacity of the reconstructed line will only be 10 billion cu m a
year, not much compared with the 50 billion cu m the Turkmen now sell to Russia
and the 30 billion cu m promised to China.
Jonathan Stern, director of gas research at the Oxford Institute for Energy
Studies, agrees that the TCGPs prospects are not seriously affected by this
deal, but he argues that there are other obstacles standing in its way.
The TCGP is not more or less realistic than it was prior to this
announcement, he said. What it needs are gas supplies, gas buyers and finance
it is not clear that the project currently has any of these.
While the new agreement means only that Turkmenistan will be more able to meet
its obligations to Moscow, the analysts interviewed by IWPR recognise that it
is of considerable symbolic importance, as a demonstration that Russia is still
the closest ally of the energy-rich Central Asian states.
But the Turkmen authorities who presumably would wish to reduce the Russian
stranglehold on gas exports and pricing have indicated that the construction
of alternative routes remains feasible.
A week before the trilateral agreement on the pipeline was made, the head of
the state-owned Turkmengas company, Yashygeldy Kakaev, said the country was
interested in diversifying its export routes, and cited the TCGP as one
At a press conference held after the trilateral summit in Turkmenbashi,
President Berdymuhammedov also said the TCGP was still on the agenda.
Diversification of gas distribution is taking place throughout the entire
world, so this matter could still be examined, he said.
Stern said that the proposed pipeline to China in particular is highly
realistic, provided the Chinese cover the costs of building it and producing
the gas to feed it. This, he said, they seem inclined to do.
Stern added that while the project would not come cheap, Chinas growing
economy is devouring energy at such a rate that it is keen to get access to
Turkmen gas, whatever the cost.
Under international economic viability criteria, this project is not
realistic, but the Chinese do not view projects in these terms, he said.
In order to implement all these projects, Turkmenistan must increase its gas
production, which it has indicated it will do.
Gas concern chief Kakaev said that Turkmenistan will increase annual output to
79 billion cu m this year, and then strive to reach 120 billion cu m in 2010
and 250 billion cu m in 2030. These ambitions have been spurred by the recent
discovery of vast reserves at the South Yolotan field, which the government
says contains seven trillion cu m.
If the promised production increases are realised, and export routes are
diversified to reach new markets, Turkmenistan is likely to see a sustained
rise in export revenues. But as Erika Dailey, director of the Open Society
Institutes Turkmenistan Project, pointed out, it remains doubtful that the
money will trickle down to the average citizen.
Corrupt governments force their citizens into silence, so that the countrys
natural wealth can be siphoned into the off-budget accounts of the elites
rather than into social programmes, she said.
Abdujalil Abdurasulov is an IWPR contributor in Almaty.
KAZAKSTANS KRISHNA COMMUNITY FACES EVICTION
Long-running saga takes a new turn as the Supreme Court says Hare Krishnas do
not own the land they have settled.
By Abdujalil Abdurasulov in Almaty
Analysts have criticised a Kazak Supreme Court ruling against the Hare Krishna
communitys claim to a farm plot near Almaty, saying it appears to be
In the May 8 decision, judges ruled against the Society for Krishna
Consciousness, which was seeking legal backing for its purchase of a piece of
farmland which the community now occupies. Many of the analysts interviewed by
IWPR argue that the move could damage Kazakstans image and its international
The Krishna society began acquiring land in the Karasai district on the
outskirts of Almaty in 1999. Calling itself Sri Vrindavan Dham, the commune
developed as Krishna devotees joined a cooperative of dacha or allotment
owners paying for the use of land plots, and grew to include 66 homes, in
addition to the farmland that is the subject of the Supreme Court ruling.
The court decision is the latest move in a long-running dispute between the
authorities and the Krishna group.
The local authorities accused homeowners who were Krishna commune members of
not going through the registration process needed to legalise their ownership
rights. In a legal case launched in 2005, a court decided that 13 of the homes
were not under legal ownership and were therefore subject to demolition.
In November last year, the Karasai district authorities acted on that ruling by
tearing down the 13 houses involved.
Other members now stand accused of purchasing their land illegally and of
failing to register their houses.
But Krishna community spokesman Maxim Varfolomeev said numerous attempts by
members to register their homes had been turned down by the local
administration. He argues that the allegations of illegal purchase are just a
pretext for authorities to seize the land.
The members of the commune remain in their homes for now, but are not sure for
We can be forced to leave our property at any time, said Varfolomeev.
He says the imminent eviction could threaten the very existence of the society
- which was granted official registration in 2002.
Losing the legal address of the society will result in its registration being
terminated, and I doubt well be able to re-register even if we find new land,
Yeraly Tugjanov, the chair of the governments committee for religious affairs,
insists the charges are well-founded.
We have made so many appeals to [members of the commune] asking them to
legalise their property - not on behalf of a natural person, but on behalf of a
legal entity but they have never done so, he said.
Tugjanov conceded that community members had filed applications to register
their property titles, but said these had been turned away because no new
claims could be considered while the local authorities court action was in
The treatment of the community at the hands of the authorities has already
provoked criticism from the West. In December, the United States embassy issued
a statement expressing concern at what it termed an aggressive campaign
against the Krishna community.
International organisations including the Organisation for Security and
Cooperation in Europe, OSCE, and the International Helsinki Federation also
called on the Kazak government to cease the demolition of homes and other
actions against the community, and to conduct a fair investigation into the
A statement from the OSCE's advisory council on freedom of religion last
November said that it appears that state-sponsored action has been focused
upon members of the Hare Krishna community in a manner that suggests they have
been targeted on the basis of their religious affiliation.
The level of international concern about the issue suggests that the latest
development will damage Kazakstans reputation for religious tolerance in the
eyes of the world.
Kazakstan has an image of a country with a high degree of religious and ethnic
tolerance, said Ninel Fokina from the Almaty Helsinki Committee. This image
is being damaged by the governments actions against Hare Krishna followers.
Fokina argues that the repercussions might be serious, and may even be damaging
to Kazakstans bid to chair the OSCE in 2009. The United States and Britain
already oppose the Kazak, citing its non-compliance with OSCE standards in
various areas including human rights.
Political scientist Sergey Duvanov also doubts that Kazakstan will succeed in
its campaign to chair of OSCE.
The Supreme Court ruling is a clear case of religious discrimination, he
argues. The conflict between the local authorities and the Hare Krishna
community is an ideological battle and is evidence of the negative attitude
that the authorities have towards all religions except the two major ones,
Islam and Orthodox Christianity.
Who will allow Kazakstan to chair OSCE if we violate its sacred standard of
freedom of belief? he asked. This is the kind of attitude that exists under
authoritarian regimes. They draw the boundary lines, and such [faith] groups
are simply excluded.
Fokina claims that the selective nature of the legal action the Karasai
authorities have pursued show a discriminatory approach.
Lawsuits are filed only against Hare Krishna followers. They are not filed
against other people living in the same settlement who did not register their
property either, she said.
But Tugjanov rejects such claims, arguing that 16 members of the Hare Krishna
community have managed to successfully register and legalise their homes.
We have no problems with these homes, and this proves that it is not a
deliberate campaign against this religious community, he said.
Not all analysts are accusing the authorities of religious discrimination.
Kanat Berentaev, deputy director of the Public Policy Research Centre, says the
real reason why local authorities are so keen to shut down the community may be
the soaring price of land.
Land is at a premium in Almaty, and the expanding city is gradually encroaching
on surrounding rural land. With big money to be made, the disputed Krishna land
could be sold for property development rather than agricultural purposes.
This is not a political case; it has to do more with economics, said
Berentaev. The case of the Hare Krishna community is an attempt to
Prime development spots are easily acquired through murky procedures where a
particular property is claimed by some company or individual with connections
in high places.
Somebody wants to acquire this land, and is using every available means to get
it, said Berentaev.
Abdujalil Abdurasulov is an independent journalist based in Almaty.
KYRGYZ OPPOSITION RUNS OUT OF STEAM
The opposition appears to have lost its momentum following April's turbulent
protests, although some analysts think a period of reflection would do everyone
By Astra Sadybakasova in Bishkek
After the dramatic events of April, in which thousands of Kyrgyz opposition
supporters appeared locked in a fight to the death with President Kurmanbek
Bakiev, political life has lapsed into turpitude.
At certain points before and during the April 11-19 rally, it seemed Bakievs
opponents had him on the back foot, forcing him to make concession after
concession. They accuse him of failing to introduce political and economic
reforms to make a break with the system he inherited from former president
Askar Akaev, ousted by the opposition in the March 2005 tulip revolution.
However, after police used force to break up the rally and questioned a number
of opposition leaders, it seemed that Bakiev had them on the run instead.
But a month on, it seems that the opposition is less defeated than simply in a
quandary about to should do next.
The United Front for a Worthy Future for Kyrgyzstan held a national assembly
on May 5 at which it demanded the resignation of Almazbek Atambaev, the
opposition politician whom Bakiev appointed prime minister last month as one of
his concessions to his opponents. The opposition refused to join Atambaevs
coalition government, and pressed ahead with street protests.
However, the assemblys final resolution made no mention of the principal
demand voiced by the United Front since it was set up in February that
President Bakiev should stand down immediately to clear the way for a fresh
United Front leader Felix Kulov explained the omission afterwards by saying
such a call would have brought down a ferocious reaction from the authorities.
Since the April rally, opposition politicians have been speaking about a new
strategy of peaceful resistance, although no one seems to be clear what that
means or what forms of protest it rules out. They have also indicated that
there will be no more major anti-government protests until the autumn a
radical shift of gear following the sustained confrontation of recent months,
which saw big political rallies last November as well as this April, and two
changes to the constitution which still left the opposition unsatisfied.
The May 5 assembly agreed that if the government failed to meet its demands
within 20 days, the opposition reserved the right to stage further protests and
gather the 300,000 signatures needed to impeach the president. But this new
prospect of more unrest receded almost immediately when opposition politicians
started talking about an October 20 date for the next demonstration.
One interpretation of this apparent loss of momentum is that the opposition has
Until February, Bakiev with Kulov beside him as prime minister was opposed by
an umbrella group of parties called the Movement for Reforms. When Kulov failed
to win re-appointment as prime minister, for which he blamed the president, he
changed sides and set up a new group, the United Front, which articulated
similar demands to the Movement for Reforms but using tougher language.
The movement initially held off from aligning itself closely with its new, more
radical rival. But as the April protests loomed, it sided with the United
Front, and Kulov began to be seen as the leader of the opposition.
That relationship may now becoming strained.
Even the conglomerate of oppositionists who supported the March 2005 coup have
fallen out with one another, argued political analyst Toktogul Kakchekeev.
They are virtually enemies now, because the
orientation of the
revolutionaries was never stable,
Beishe Bulan, chief editor of the De Facto newspaper, dates the schism to
Kulovs arrival in the opposition ranks, which prompted leading politicians
like Atambaev, Azimbek Beknazarov and Roza Otunbaeva to part company with their
In Felix Kulov, the opposition lost more than it gained, said Bulan.
According to journalist Dmitry Orlov, much now depends on what both opposition
politicians and the authorities decide to do.
Kyrgyzstans politicians have seriously damaged their own reputations of
late, said Orlov. Because of their actions, we have been left with a total
void in place of a Kyrgyz state.
For the moment, it looks like being a quiet summer.
Political analyst Turat Akimov said the opposition is completely demoralised
and is trying to reassess its own aims and values, to regroup, and to gather
There will be no serious political action until the autumn, he said Akimov.
But then we can expect more rational action from the opposition.
Temir Sariev, the only leading opposition member whom IWPR was able to track
down, would not say exactly what was planned, simply that there were several
options and work is in progress. We wont be relaxing over the summer, he
Political life usually dies down in the summer, said political analyst Nur
Omarov. What can we expect in the autumn? That depends on whether a new
constitution is passed. If the draft document has the backing of both
government and opposition is passed - or even if the opposition is at least 50
per cent happy with it - then the oppositions potential will be drained to a
Political analyst Zainidin Kurmanov is more sanguine than other commentators
about the current political process. He points out that what looks like chaos
in Kyrgyzstan is simply the difference between that country and other Central
Asian states, where everything seems calm because there is no open debate, no
adversarial politics, and everything is locked down by authoritarian presidents.
Its simply that in comparison with neighbouring countries where the entire
political space has been privatised by the heads of state, everything here
seems terrible, said Kurmanov.
Its incorrect to say that the opposition has died down. In fact, it is taking
a breather to review everything thats going on, including the reasons why the
April rally failed.
Kurmanov presents three possible scenarios the opposition reverts to past
practice and launches more street protests; the opposition and government come
to terms under an informal non-aggression pact; or there is a continuing
stand-off between the two, in an atmosphere of misunderstanding and
confrontation. But he does not believe any of these options would lead to
We must learn to live in the conditions of democracy, with its rallies,
pickets and protests, he said.
Astra Sadybakasova is an IWPR contributor in Bishkek.
TAJIK MEDIA SHORT OF JOURNALISTS
Universities lack the modern teaching methods to turn out high-calibre
graduates to work as journalists.
By Saodat Asanova and Nafisa Pisarejeva in Dushanbe
Tajikistan has plenty of media outlets at least 380 of them at the latest
count but almost all are short of staff. One major reason for this is that
university journalism courses are under-funded and use old-fashioned teaching
methods, and are failing to produce enough graduates with the skills to slot
into the vacancies.
Concerned at the staff shortages, the media community is looking at ways to
improve the training now available, which they say is outdated and short of
tutors, modern equipment and even textbooks.
GAPS IN JOURNALISM TRAINING
Participants in a roundtable meeting held in the capital Dushanbe at the
beginning of April agreed that university courses do not meet modern
requirements, that there are fewer and fewer professional journalists working
in the media, and that there is little cooperation between media organisations
The meeting brought together the heads of journalism faculties and departments,
lecturers, and representatives of the education ministry and media
organisations to identify problems and suggest solutions.
Marat Mamadshoev, the editor of the Asia Plus newspaper, says the education
system is in crisis. He told IWPR that one of the main problems with training
is that it is centred on theory, not practice.
The current state curriculum, which was approved by the education ministry five
years ago and is used by all six Tajik universities that offer journalism, only
three of the courses involve modern technology. With no television or radio
stations, or newspapers, the universities have no facilities for students to
practice their skills.
Education must be more focused on practice, so that universities educate fewer
linguists than is now the case at present, and more journalists, said
Said, who graduated from Tajikistan State National University this year, said
that on his course, some of the lessons came in the form of long, tedious
lectures. The only classes he thought were good were mostly given by teachers
who had actually worked in the media.
It would have been good if wed been taught by more journalists with media
experience, who know the fine points of the profession, the way to talk to
sources and other nuances. When I started working in the media, it was the
recommendations and advice these teachers gave me that helped me, he said.
He added that for some subjects, there were no textbooks either in Russian or
A graduate of the Russian-Tajik Slavic University also said she was not given
adequate practical training to prepare her for working with news agencies.
We were told in purely theoretical terms how to write material reports,
articles and so on but there was no emphasis on the fact that different types
of media have their own specifics and their own requirements. For example, the
Avesta and Asia Plus agencies use different writing styles for news reporting,
Mamadshoev argues that in addition to modern, practical skills, students should
receive a thorough grounding in more academic subjects such as law, logic and
philosophy, to train young journalists to ask the questions that readers are
They should be competent at applying their knowledge. They should be able to
combine and supplement the knowledge they receive, make decisions, solve
problems, and think critically, he said.
Experts are also pushing for a selection procedure to be introduced for
university enrolment, as they say there are too many students studying
journalism for no good reason.
Alisher, who graduated two years ago, said that in his year, there were very
few students who really wanted to become journalists, and that some only
enrolled to get a diploma.
But those graduates who genuinely do want to work in media often find they lack
the necessary skills and struggle to find work, and there are currently few
recent journalism graduates working on Tajik newspapers.
Alisher and Said both told IWPR that only a few of their classmates managed to
The State National University has around 700 students enrolled in the
journalism faculty, and 150 graduate each year. But according to the dean of
the faculty, Sangin Gulov, only a small percentage will go on to work as
Gulov said the low salaries on offer at universities mean they have trouble
recruiting professional journalists as lecturers, so journalists are often
taught by people with little or no practical experience.
While about 75 per cent of students at the six universities offering journalism
courses pay fees ranging from 200 to 600 US dollars per academic year, the
institutions still fail to offer their staff the equivalent of the average wage
for a practicing journalist.
We have tried several times to bring in experienced journalists to teach, but
they refused to work for the 54 somoni [15 dollars a month] that a lecturer
receives, Gulov said.
Media experts are calling not just for courses to be brought up to date to
respond to a changing market and developments in technology, but also for
mechanisms to be introduced to improve the qualifications of journalism tutors.
UNIVERSITIES MUST DRIVE CHANGE
Rukhshona Olimova, media coordinator for the Soros Foundation in Tajikistan,
argues that if standards of training are to be improved, the universities must
The universities themselves must urgently introduce innovative teaching
methods of teaching and more practical lessons, as used in western
universities, she said.
Alidod Rasulov, a specialist at the education ministry and deputy head of the
department for universities at the Tajikistan education ministry, agrees with
He told IWPR that reforms in training methods are necessary to ensure new
journalists have modern skills, but that it is up to universities and
journalism faculties to push for these.
If they lobby for programmes and curricula to improve and modernise media
education, we will be all for it - but we havent yet received anything, he
At the ministrys department for universities, IWPR was told that reforms are
required not just in media education, but in higher education as a whole.
But Abdusattor Nuraliev, the head of the journalism faculty at the
Russian-Tajik Slavonic University, argues that universities are not capable of
dealing with this problem on their own.
There must be an analysis of the situation with journalism education and the
modern media market, and universities, the media and journalist organisations
must be part of that process. The problems must be identified and a special
programme designed to improve education for journalists, Nuraliev told IWPR.
CALL FOR GREATER COLLABORATION
At present, there is little cooperation between the media and education, with
universities unaware of the needs of the media, and the latter in no hurry to
work with the education sector.
As part of their courses, journalism students complete work placements, but
some are unhappy with the treatment they receive on these. At the same time,
managers at some media outlets allege that students attempt to bribe them to
pass their practical exercises.
One student - Sabokhat - did her practical training at one local media outlet
last year and found the staff unhelpful and even obstructive.
Not all the media outlets took interns readily, or gave students the necessary
attention and help. If we ever came up with an initiative or an idea, they
immediately put a stop to it, she said.
Sabokhat said the media must do more to help students, I think that a lot
depends on the media themselves. If they want good employees, then they should
cooperate by helping students and giving them guidelines and direction.
Mamadshoev suggested that universities could select the most promising students
from senior courses and put them forward to be trained by newspapers.
But media outlets have been reluctant to become involved with training so far,
preferring to hire staff with experience.
If the media really are interested, then they should solve these problems
together with universities, so that they train the necessary specialists, but,
unfortunately, the media wants staff that are already trained, says Jovid
Mukim, who is one of the few practicing journalists teaching at the State
Mukim said local media should become patrons of journalism faculties and
departments, and establish links among universities, media outlets, media
groups and international organisations.
INTERNATIONAL HELP NEEDED
Olimova said that while the media have the skills to train students, there is
no financial incentive for them to do so. Many of our professional journalists
have the potential to work as trainers, but for financial reasons they dont
want to share their knowledge for free, she said.
She suggested that cash-strapped teaching institutions could modernise their
curriculum by enlisting the help of international organisations.
Universities should ensure that their teaching body has maximum participation
in practical courses conducted by international organisations, she said.
To meet the demand for new skills, she says, the Soros Foundation launched a
summer school in 2006 for journalism lecturers at Tajik universities. Taught by
lecturers from the Russian city of St Petersburg, the course is designed to
introduce modern teaching methods, and will take place again this summer.
Many students are prevented from attending practical training courses outside
the formal curriculum, as some teaching staff still forbid their students from
attending them. An unofficial ban on students attending international events
was imposed in the run-up to the 2006 presidential elections. Tajik officials,
who suspected that international organisations were behind a popular revolt in
neighbouring Kyrgyzstan in 2005, wanted to avoid a similar uprising in their
A lecturer at the State National University told IWPR anonymously that some
institutions continue to stop students participating in practical courses
conducted by non-government groups, fearing that this will introduce them to
He says this is a short-sighted attitude, and argues that young people who were
exposed to the horrors of Tajikistans 1992-97 civil war, are not interested in
this creating an opposition.
The international community has the resources and the capacity to help
students and universities to upgrade media training to international standards.
Most of our Soviet-minded government officials, and those of our professors who
hold totalitarian views, just narrow the opportunities available to students,
who want to study and are not interested in fighting, he said.
Nurali Davlatov, who teaches at the Slavonic University, also believes it is
important for students and lecturers to participate in practical courses
offered by international media development organisations, as a way of learning
modern techniques and fostering cooperation with the outside world.
I dont think international organisation are going to go beyond their mandate
and teach students how to create a opposition here. Its ridiculous to assert
that these practical courses will have a negative impact on the students, he
Mahmadjon Dodoboev, who teaches journalism at the Khujand State University in
the north of Tajikistan, thinks international organisations could supply many
of the resources and technology that are currently lacking.
Such equipment is very expensive, and assistance from international
organisations in the shape of grants, technical assistance, textbooks and the
exchange of experience among teachers would be invaluable.
Munira, a student at the State National University, said students are keen to
participate in practical training sessions run by international organisations,
but have been prevented from doing so.
Since last year, we havent been allowed to attend, even when we showed
official invitations. No reason was given for this, she said.
Munira said she and her classmates were looking forward to the summer, when
they will be free to attend training events out of term time.
These courses have given us much more practise than we ever get at university.
Many organisations run training programmes over the summer, and most of us are
looking forward to participating as well be on holiday.
Saodat Asanova is director of IWPR Tajikistan. Nafisa Pisarejeva is an IWPR
contributor in Dushanbe.
REPORTING CENTRAL ASIA provides the international community with a unique
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The service forms part of IWPR's Central Asia Project based in Almaty, Bishkek,
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IWPR's Reporting Central Asia is supported by the UK Community Fund. The
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