The interaction between Central Asia and Afghanistan is conventionally discussed either from the perspective of spillovers or from the other side of the coin, namely economic cooperation around the slogan of reviving the Silk Road. Yet, for a better grasp of Central Asia’s position on the Afghan question, it is necessary to shift the perspective of analysis from international relations to domestic policies. This article aims to decipher the many internal drivers that shape Uzbek and Tajik policies toward and perceptions of Afghanistan. Understanding decision-making mechanisms and the legitimacy of the authorities, identifying elite groups and their connection to their Afghan counterparts, and grasping the process of knowledge production, all help to better understand how Afghanistan’s neighbors shape their policy.
Research on Russian civil society focuses largely on the repressive legislative side of state policies, to the virtual exclusion of the rise of domestic funding, be it individual, corporate, or public. This article instead contributes to the discussion of state funding for the third sector by looking at the Russian Presidential Grant Fund, a state institution that has disbursed RUB18 billion (approx. $275 million at the August 11, 2019, exchange rate) to the third sector since 2016, making it one of the most influential sources of financial support to Russian civil society. A data-driven analysis of the Fund reveals that, although it prioritizes certain types of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) over others, there is a discernible attempt to address some of the most pressing social ills in Russia today. Whereas some grant directions, such as the “preservation of historical memory” and “development of public diplomacy and support of compatriots,” further long-held, Kremlin-sponsored ideological projects, the biggest categories supported by the Fund focus on more classical philanthropic issues, confirming the state’s growing delegation of the provision of public services to the third sector.