Transparency International

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from one of Transparency International’s national chapters. The Anti-Corruption Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International and funded by the European Union

Query

Please provide an overview of corruption and anti-corruption in the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and consider the role of corruption in undermining effective and equitable responses to COVID-19.

Summary

The Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan have each taken a different path since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, all have struggled in varying degrees to transition from authoritarian rule to democracy, and corruption permeates most areas of politics and government. The consequences of these modes of autocratic governance became obvious in 2020 as widespread corruption hindered the response of countries in the region to the COVID-19 pandemic. Health systems are struggling to cope, ever tighter restrictions have been imposed on freedom of speech and access to information, and there is an alarming opacity in the allocation of funds dedicated to the response effort.

Contents

  1. Background
  2. Regional Framework
  3. Kazakhstan
  4. Kyrgyzstan
  5. Tajikistan
  6. Turkmenistan
  7. Uzbekistan
  8. Impact of corruption on COVID-19 response in Central Asia
  9. References

Main points

  • Corruption is rampant throughout Central Asia. The five countries average 26.6 out of 100 on the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index, far below the global average of 43.
  • Despite widespread anti-corruption rhetoric by political leaders, in practice nominal anti-corruption campaigns often target opposition figures and government critics.
  • While corruption has hampered Central Asian countries’ response to COVID-19, governments across the region have used the pandemic as a pretext to clamp down on political dissent.


Authors

Krista Lee-Jones, tihelpdesk@transparency.org

Reviewers:

Matthew Jenkins and Altynai Myrzabekova, Transparency International

Date

28/01/2021

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