Global Governance
Programme of the Valdai Club Central Asian Conference
List of speakers

On May 20-21, 2021, the city of Kazan will host the Central Asian Conference of the Valdai Discussion Club, titled “Russia and Central Asia Facing the Challenges of the New World – A Joint Path to the Future”. The event will be held mostly live; almost all guests will attend in person.

Programme of the Valdai Club Central Asian Conference

“Russia and Central Asia Facing the Challenges of the New World – A Joint Path to the Future”

May, 20 – 21, 2021, Kazan

National Library of the Republic of Tatarstan

May 20, Thursday

10:30 – 10:45

Opening of the Conference (live broadcast)

10:45 – 12:15

Session I. Russia and Central Asia After the Pandemic: How We Passed the Stress Test (live broadcast)

The coronavirus pandemic has become a serious test for the socio-economic and political systems of all countries of the world. Russia and the countries of Central Asia also face the complex impact of pandemic stress on societies, social systems and governance. The consequences of the pandemic affected statehood in different ways: while in some countries they sped up internal changes, elsewhere they slowed them down. The purpose of the session is to discuss the lessons learned, positive and negative examples of interstate interaction and coordination of national authorities’ actions, the pandemic consequences for multilateral institutions: the EAEU, the CSTO and the CIS; opportunities to strengthen interaction.


  • Oleg Salagay, Deputy Minister of Health of the Russian Federation;

  • Anton Kozlov, Head of Foreign Projects and International Cooperation Department, JSC Russian Railways;

  • Yerlan Karin, Aide to the President of Kazakhstan, Chairman of the Kazakhstan Council on Foreign Relations (CASMO);

  • Oksana Sinyavskaya, Deputy Director, Institute for Social Policy, National Research University Higher School of Economics;

  • Bakhtiyor Mustafaev, Deputy Director, International Institute of Central Asia;

  • Kubatbek Rakhimov, Director, Center for Strategic Research “Eurasia”, Kyrgyz Republic; Former Advisor to Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic. 


  • Fyodor Lukyanov, Research Director of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club.

12:45 – 14:15

Session II. Common and Different Security Threats to Russia and Central Asia

Central Asia is important for ensuring the national security of Russia in the southern and southeastern directions. The countries of Central Asia border on sources of instability such as Afghanistan, and they themselves periodically face internal manifestations of religious and interethnic tensions. In the region, Russia is present as a guarantor of security for a number of countries, as well as a member of the CSTO and the EAEU. At the same time, the Central Asian states themselves are looking for a solution to security problems through building up their own capabilities and interaction with external players. The central questions of the session are: what unites the interests of Russia and the countries of Central Asia in the field of traditional security; what are the consequences of the Sino-American conflict for the region; what Russia is doing and can do for the security of Central Asia; what Russia wants from regional partners in the field of preventing old and new threats.


  • Vitaly Naumkin, Full Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences; Academic Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences;

  • Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (2004 – 2014);

  • Adil Kaukenov, Director of China Center, Kazakhstan;

  • Anatol Lieven, Senior Research Fellow on Russia and Europe, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft;

  • Guzel Maytdinova, Director, Center of Geopolitical Researches, Russian-Tajik Slavonic University;

  • Andrey Bolshakov, Director of Scientific Programs, Institute for Central Asian Studies.


  • Khudoberdi Kholiknazar, Director, Center for Central Asian and Chinese Studies in Tajikistan.

15:35 – 17:05

Session III. New “Windows of Opportunity” of the Global Economy for Russia and Central Asia

The global economy is undergoing profound changes amid the shift of the balance of power towards China, the proliferation of sanctions and trade wars, increased protectionism and a slowdown in global trade. At the same time, new forms of economic activity are developing, associated with information and communication technologies, the green economy, and the new formats of traditional spheres of economic activity. The session will focus on: the impact of changes in the global economy on Russia and the countries of Central Asia; new threats and new opportunities for the implementation of national development plans; promising directions and constraints on economic activity.


  • Yevgeniya Lodvigova, Deputy Mayor of Kazan;

  • Rakhim Oshakhbaev, Director, Talap Center for Applied Research;

  • Anastasia Likhacheva, Director of the Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies (CCEIS), National Research University Higher School of Economics;

  • Akramdjan Nematov, First Deputy Director of the Institute for Strategic and Segional Studies under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.


  • Bakhodur Eshonov, Founding Director, Center for Economic Research and Reform under the Administration of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan (1999 – 2015).

May 21, Friday

10:00 – 11:30

Session IV. Russian Policy in Central Eurasia and Its Perception by Regional Powers

Russia's policy in Central Eurasia is determined by the country's internal development, global challenges and established relations with regional powers. The main goals remain unchanged: these are maintaining security in the region, stability of political systems, and their friendly nature in relation to Russian interests and values. But Russia's behaviour in the region, understanding of how to achieve these goals, is changing – both tactically and strategically. It is also of great importance how Russia's actions are perceived by regional partners and taken into account in their development plans. The central issues of the session are: traditional and new elements in Russia's policies; the most important structural and practical aspects of Russia's interaction with regional players; perception of Russia's policies in the context of development of Central Asian countries.


  • Amir Salyamov, Head of Department, Institute for Strategic and Interregional Studies under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan;

  • Marat Shibutov, Member of the Public Council of the city of Almaty; Member of the National Council of Public Trust Under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan;

  • Mehdi Sanaei, Director, Institute for Iran-Eurasia Studies, Senior Advisor to the Foreign Minister of Iran, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Russia (2013 – 2019);

  • Feng Shaolei, Director of Centre for Russian Studies, East China Normal University;

  • Ivan Safranchuk, Director, Senior Research Fellow, Center Eurasian studies, MGIMO University.


  • Timofei Bordachev, Programme Director of the Valdai Discussion Club; Academic Supervisor, Centre for Comprehensive European and International Studies, National Research University Higher School of Economics.

12:00 – 13:30

Open discussion “The Future for ‘Special’ Relations Between Russia and Central Asia” (live broadcast)

Participants: everyone


  • Alexander Rahr, Senior Research Fellow, WeltTrends Institute for International Politics in Potsdam; Research Director, German-Russian Forum.