Voices from Central Asia and the Caucasus

Cows by Lake Issyk Kul in Kyrgyzstan

Welcome to the latest roundup from the Central Asian and Caucasian blogosphere brought to you bi-weekly by neweurasia. As usual, we take you through the countries alphabetically.

As a matter of routine, we’d like to draw your attention to the Oneworld blog where Onnik Krikorian has written up his latest roundup from the (English-speaking) Armenian blogosphere. This week, there has been little political discussion, and the bloggers focus on writing about culture. On the same blog, Nessuna summarises the Armenian-language blogosphere, containing great information on the country’s higher education system and the problem of unemployment. And, on another cultural note, Who knew Armenians could Rap wonders whether one can reconcile the fact that on the one hand young Armenian hip-hop-savvies love crosses and frequently rap about Jesus, but on the other hand hardly ever go to attend church.

Carpetblogger, who has now firmly relocated to the Ukraine, couldn’t resist from offering his very own perspective on a recent Financial Times rating, declaring Azerbaijan’s capital Baku one of the winners in the contest “2006/2007 European City of the Future”. Despite attracting two MacDonald’s branches and, well, considerable oil-cash, he is sceptical whether the people responsible for the contest have actually ever been to Azerbaijan.

SueAndNotYou wonders why Georgia features a list called The 14 Most Dangerous Destinations 2006. While Sue has to admit that she had lost her wallet before and some friends tried to assassinate her with vodka, she is a bit disappointed and fears for her Georgia’s reputation. Ben of neweurasia has attended a very interesting lecture giving a critical account of the Rose Revolution in 2003.

Kazakhstan is currently living through a full-blown political crisis that sparked off when opposition politician Sarsenbaev got killed two weeks ago. This weekend saw the first anti-government protests on Respublika Square in Almaty for years. Nathan over at Registan.net, neweurasia and Democracy Rising have been covering the story. Also at neweurasia, there is a discussion underway about who might be blamed for the murder and whether it is really that easy to simply point the finger at the government. The murder of Kazakh opposition leader has caused anger and dissent, as Petruchooo documents. A vigil held in the memory of Altynbek Sarsenbayev was broken up by the police and petruchooo features a photo and account of the events.

The Golden Road to Samarqand writes about traditions in Kyrgyzstan and highlights the problem of spending far too much money on events such as funerals and weddings. Controversy over at Betsy’s The Moveable Feast: It seems she has been a little bit fed up with life in Jalalabad lately and wanted to voice her anger/confusion on her blog. However, loads of Kyrgyz people found out about the post and engaged her in a hefty discussion, coming very close to the edge of mutual verbal abuse. If taken with some grains of irony, it is, however, absolutely funny reading, both the actual post and the comments. This week, Edil Baisalov sets off for Oxford, in the United Kingdom, to attend a conference entitled “Kyrgyzstan at the Crossroads”. He promises to keep his readers updated about his conference-attending activities, which will also take him to Sweden and Finland.

James of neweurasia informs the interested reader that in Tajikistan, President Rakhmonov let’s democracy go exactly as far as he wants, and no one is surprised.

In one of the most in-depth discussions about Turkmenistan’s unknown future after President Niyazov, Peter of neweurasia and some fellow readers exchange their points of view about what could be likely future scenarios. Courtesy of Turkmen blogger Karakum, who has also participated in the exchange, the complete discussion is now also available in Russian on his blog, where in turn some interesting comments have been published. Other newsworthy tidbits from Turkmenistan include a bird-flu scare, demolition of houses in the Caspian Sea port town Krasnovodsk (now called after the President Turkmenbashi) and the ongoing coverage of the gas row between Turkmenistan and the Ukraine.

Bсеузный блог reports about an Uzbek musician named DG Pilgrim who became popular enough in his home country to move to Moscow to work as a producer. From there, he moved to Kazakhstan, where he is very popular to the present day. Now, he has moved back to Tashkent, and is working on a number of new projects, including two videos, and in May will hold a concert called “Pilgrim and Friends.” In a sequel to the photo shoot on footwear in Samarkand, Бозор presents a photographic tour young people’s clothing. Origuy, originally from Tashkent but now living in Sydney, marvels at the fact that foreign films on television are not dubbed. His blog charts the progress of his stay in Australia.

Regional news:
The Winter Olympics are over now, and here some favourite blog posts from the region: Alan Cordova analysed whether the opening ceremony music choice for the respective countries had a secret meaning, Tidor endorses Almaty’s bid to host the games in 2014 (wait, is there any sarcasm???) and My Wrath explains why American figure skater Sasha Cohen is not pseudo-Kazakh reporter Borat (whose real life name is Sacha Baron Cohen). On a more serious note, neweurasia has now finished its special coverage of HIV/Aids in the region and you can read the reports on Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan by clicking on the links. Meanwhile, Jessica offers her critical perspective on donor policies and priorities. A book on Turkmen history by Atamurat Kushzhonov has been published in the Uzbek town of Urgench. Paikhas gives some biographical details about the author and a brief survey of the book’s contents. He also appends an extensive bibliography on Russian-language materials about the Dashoguz region in northern Turkmenistan.

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