Stories about Central Asia & Caucasus from May, 2012
Kazakhstan: 12 Border Guards Found Dead After a Blaze
Following reports that 12 border guards have been found dead in a burnt-out frontier post in southeastern Kazakhstan [ru] and the lack of immediate reaction from the authorities, local blogger Almazinho1978 writes [ru]: “At the very least, they could have declared a period of official mourning… My condolences to the relatives...
Armenia-Azerbaijan: Eurovision Propaganda Fail
Global Chaos takes a look at the government-led publicity and international media attention surrounding this years Eurovision Song Contest held in Baku, Azerbaijan. The Public Diplomacy blog also notes the propaganda deployed by arch-foe Armenia's Public TV against Azerbaijan during the final, including re-inventing elements of Novruz as Christian even...
Afghanistan: Will Kabul Follow in Washington's Federal Footsteps?
At a meeting earlier this year, prominent Afghan opposition leaders called for restructuring the country's political system along federal lines. Now Facebook users in the country discuss the pros and cons of a federal system for Afghanistan.
Uzbekistan: Facebook Clone is Launched
YouFace is a new social networking site launched in Uzbekistan. Its interface is strikingly similar to that of Facebook except that YouFace quotes Uzbek President Islam Karimov on its welcome page. Another local social networking platform, the Uzbek-language Muloqot.uz, was established about a year ago.
Kazakhstan: Where Central Asia's Bread Comes From
On Vox Populi, photographer Kanat Beysekeev presents an annotated photo report [ru] on wheat sowing and the everyday life of farmers in northern Kazakhstan. Much of the wheat flour consumed in Central Asia comes from this area.
Tajikistan: Hospitals as “Machines for Sucking Money” out of Patients
Blog Avestiyca writes [ru] about health care facilities in Tajikistan, portraying the country's ill-planned and graft-ridden hospitals as “machines for sucking money” out of patients.
Why Are Governments in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan Afraid of ‘The Dictator'?
Tomyris explains why the authorities in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan have banned The Dictator, Sacha Baron Cohen‘s latest spoof blockbuster, and writes about Western media's reaction to the ban.
Kazakhstan: Parliament a “Weird, Expensive and Absolutely Useless Toy”
Blogger Gulnara Bazhkenova explains [ru] why MPs in Kazakhstan are rarely taken seriously by the general public. In her words, the country's rubber-stamp parliament is widely seen as a “weird, expensive and absolutely useless toy”.
Tajikistan: Can Drug Money Be Used to Build Mosques?
Islamic authorities in Tajikistan are unanimous in condemning the use and sale of drugs, writes [tj] journalist Kayumars Ato in his blog. At the same time, some religious leaders argue that using drug money to finance the construction of mosques is okay.
Tajikistan: Persons with Disabilities as “Unwanted” People
In an interview on Mahbub-TJ blog, Ibrohimi Ismoilzod, Tajikistan’s most successful blind singer claims [tj] that persons with disabilities are often treated as “unwanted” people in the country.
Azerbaijan: Rewriting The Geopolitical Narrative
Following concern expressed in some quarters with how the international media has covered the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku, East of Center looks at the geopolitical issues behind Western engagement of the oil-rich former Soviet republic, arguing that policy towards Azerbaijan might not solely be confined to energy interests.
Azerbaijan: More Arrests Despite ‘Eurovision Effect’
On the eve of the final of the Eurovision Song Contest, held this year in Azerbaijan, police in Baku, the capital, have arrested dozens of pro-democracy activists protesting against human rights violations in the oil-rich former Soviet republic.
Armenia: US Embassy Condemns Attack on Gay-Friendly Bar
Ararat has more on the firebombing of D.I.Y., a gay-friendly bar in Yerevan, in a post by Global Voices’ Caucasus Regional Editor while Unzipped: Gay Armenia publishes a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Armenia condemning the ultra-nationalist attack.
Tajikistan: Singers Turn to Religious Motifs
In his blog, journalist Kayumars Ato writes [tj] that pop singers and rappers in Tajikistan increasingly use religious motifs in their songs. The use of music for religious purposes remains a controversial topic in the country.
Azerbaijan: Live Eurovision Human Rights Discussion on Facebook
On the eve of this year's Eurovision Song Contest final in Baku, Azerbaijan, RFE/RL is planning a live Facebook chat with Elisa Munoz, Acting Executive Director of the International Women's Media Foundation, and Khadija Ismayilova, investigative reporter and talk show host for RFE/RL's Azerbaijan Service, at 13.00 EDT (17.00 GMT)...
Armenia: Fascist Rubo (Hayrapetyan)
With anti-gay hysteria breaking out in nationalist and official circles, Unzipped: Gay Armenia now reports that Ruben Hayrapetyan, a ruling Republican Party MP and President of the Armenian Football Association, has joined in by declaring that homosexuals should be ‘punished.’ One of Armenia's notorious oligarchs also known as ‘Nemetz (German)...
Tajikistan: Did Drug Money Finance Cell Phone Company?
Diplomatic cables made available by WikiLeaks reveal interesting details about who stood behind the creation of Tajikistan's major companies. In his blog, journalist Zafar Abdullayev analyzes [ru] documents that suggest the formation of one of Tajikistan's largest cell phone operators was financed by drug money. Another major cell phone company...
Tajikistan: The Economics of the Drug Trade in a Poor Country
In Tajikistan, an article run by the The Economist triggered a conversation on news websites about corruption among the country’s officials and their involvement in the drug trade.
Azerbaijan: Is Eurovision A Rare Opportunity For Change?
With increased media attention on the country during this week's Eurovision Song Contest in Baku, Azerbaijan, former prisoner of conscience Emin Milli argues that the international music competition offers a rare opportunity to raise concerns with human rights abuses and the lack of democratic freedoms in the oil-rich former Soviet...
Armenia: Nationalists Disrupt Cultural Diversity March
As was the case in 2009 during a rally to mark International Women's Day, nationalists in Armenia infiltrated and disrupted a march in Yerevan on 21 May to commemorate World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.
Afghanistan: Women's Voices Raised to Poetry
Through twitter, Al Jazeera shares the video story of a group of Afghan women who are using poetry as a way to empower themselves and reclaim their voice.