'Propaganda Bullhorn' Or 'Alternative Perspective'? U.S. Students Put Kremlin-Funded RT Under Microscope

RFE/RL was kind enough to cover our current RT Watch project, with a few comments from yours truly. Over at EurasiaNet, meanwhile, I looked through a German bank's report on Central Asia that was too rosy by half:

Hurting the report’s credibility is a statement that Mongolians achieved their independence in “1991.” The joke may have been that Mongolia was little more than the 16th Soviet republic, but in actuality the country gained independence in the early 20th century.

The questionable forecasts aren’t difficult to spot in the report. In its section on Kazakhstan’s fiscal health, for instance, Commerzbank claims that “Kazakhstani state finances are currently in good shape,” and that Kazakhstan “is the only country in Central Asia to possess an investment grade rating with the three big rating agencies.” The report, however, came out just a few days after Kazakhstan dropped its projected economic growth to 1.5 percent, its lowest rate since 2009, and announced that its projected industrial output would come at the lowest rate in nearly two decades. Likewise, Standard & Poor’s recently cut Kazakhstan’s credit outlook to the second-lowest investment grade, with a negative outlook alongside.

That’s not all: there’s little on the Eurasian Economic Union’s potential adverse impact on the economies of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, or on the fact that migrant remittances are experiencing a considerable drop across the region. In fact, one of the few mentions of migrant remittances in the report makes a strange claim that “weak economic development in Russia” will allow Tajik migrants “to transfer large sums to their families.” How the slowdown in Russia would enable migrant laborers to transfer “large sums” to their families, the bank report did not explain.

With The Diplomat, I took a look at some new Central Asian remittance numbers:

Again, it will be some time before the full ramifications within Russia’s economic crunch are understood. But the picture is becoming clearer. As is the likelihood that Dushanbe and Bishkek – and Tashkent, to a lesser extent – have no clear line of reprieve for those returning jobless. As the AFP reported, “The Tajik government has vowed to create 200,000 jobs this year[.]” Where these jobs will be, and who will pay for them, remains unclear.