'The Stans’ are the five post-Soviet Central Asian republics — Kazakhstan, Krygyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan — with similar historical, political and cultural roots.

These nations are asserting their cultural identity by proposing ethnic language policies — potentially banning the use of the Russian language.

In Kyrgyzstan, there’s a proposal to make Kyrgyz the dominant governmental language, and in Tajikistan, there’s another to ban the use of Russian in public institutions and official documents.

This week, Chinese President Hu Jintao opened a new gas pipeline that extends from Turkmenistan to north-west China — the first without Russia’s Gazprom.

Martin Savidge hosts William Fierman, a professor of Central Asian studies at Indiana University, and Nikolay Petrov, a scholar at the Carnegie Moscow Center.

They discuss:

  • Common political, cultural and historical roots but not a homogeneous entity
  • Post-Soviet relationships between ‘The Stans’ and Russia — how ethnic tensions and discrimination continue
  • Economic crisis, drug trafficking, oil, and migration
  • How Russia, China and the United States are vying for ‘The Stans’
  • Political instability and poor economic well-being raise concerns about the rise of Islamic fundamentalism
  • Could Central Asia become the next conflict zone — even the next Afghanistan?