Voices from Central Asia and the Caucasus

The Pamirs in sight, Kyrgyzstan

Welcome to the latest roundup of the Central Asian and Caucasian blogosphere, brought to you bi-weekly by neweurasia. This edition reaches you from sunny Berlin, where the World Cup is in full swing (making this roundup inevitably brief).

Unfortunately, the Azeri blogosphere is still underrepresented – so if you’re a blogger writing on/from Azerbaijan, be sure to drop us a line with your link.

On his Oneworld blog, blogger Onnik Krikorian writes about Habitat for Humanity (HFH), an organisation that helps to improve the living conditions for those living in de-facto homelessness. The post features a lot of pictures made on a visit to one of the projects. Myrthe on Life as I see it reports about a school-leaving ceremony in the village of Darbnikthat. The end of a life's chapter is also the beginning of a new one – and important decisions about the future of the eleventh-graders are approaching. Ani, writing on neweurasia, visited celebrations for the World's No-Tobacco Day in Yerevan and has some facts about smoking in Armenia. On Blogrel, Harmick adds a chapter to a story that has repeatedly surfaced on Central Asian and Caucasian blogs over the past months: Another Armenian got killed in Moscow in a race-related hate crime.

Susan on her blog SueAndNotYou tells her readers how an early-summer insomnia made her leave Tbilisi for the cool mountain breeze of the hilltop town Sighnaghi. Finding a place to stay proved no problem for the laid-back author, and an evening entertainment was found quickly as well. A wedding party of an ethnic Kurdish Georgian who had just returned from fighting with coalition forces in Iraq is not the kind of thing you might expect to find in Georgia.

Kazakh modern art can – at times – be shocking. A recent TV documentary introduced a British audience to the fact that Kazakhstan has a vibrant scene and an art-savvy population. Leila of neweurasia has the full story. On neweurasia's Russian Kazakhstan blog, two new contributors have started posting: Adam Kesher (who also blogs on Livejournal here) discusses telecommunications policies in Kazakhstan and Russia. Dmitry analyses new steps in the development of Kazakhstan's space industry (RUS).

At his blog, Kyrgyz rights activist Edil Baisalov comments on the deposed president of Kyrgyzstan Askar Akaev's decision to appoint his former presidential adviser Akin Toktaliev as his lawyer. Baisalov argues that the decision serves to further confirm Akaev's irrelevance to Kyrgyz society (RUS).

Mining issues in Mongolia continue to garner domestic and international attention with few developments on either side of the debate. However, the Minister of Industry and Trade recently stated that legally issued licenses could be revoked by local governments. Parliament, though, is currently facing much more than just mining legislation. With time running down, the anti-corruption draft law as well as new tax law revisions must be addressed before the end of the spring session. One of the few pieces of legislation that finally was passed by Parliament was the new State Budget. Lastly, Mongolian journalists still have to fight for their legal rights to access of information.

For free and fair Tajik presidential elections, make sure to visit neweurasia, where James has asked readers to participate in the region's first e-vote. Currently, the incumbent's party is in a neck-and-neck race against the the Democratic Party of Tajikistan. On the same blog's Russian version, Vadim reports that Tajik President Rakhmonov has promised all games of the World Cup can be watched on national TV (RUS).

Turkmen blogger Karakum bemoans the recent loss of interest in blogging about Turkmenistan after the sensational arrest of former General Prosecutor. The post contains some links to the best Russian and English-language blog resources currently available (RUS). On The Registan, Nathan discusses whether or not Turkmen traditional music is loosing out to Hip-Hop.

A new blog (in Uzbek) has been set up recently to discuss women's issues: Ayollar Bekati (“women's busstop”) has already addressed a variety of topics ranging from domestic violence (3 posts plus a few comments), the choice of upbringing for children (traditional Uzbek or Western style) to AIDS in Uzbekistan, genital mutiliation of girls in Africa and new improvements for pregnant women in Russia. The posts which got most hits and comments are the one about AIDS and the recent figure that half of those infected being women; the post entitled “I will not circumcise my son!” and the latest one about the grandparents’ role in the upbringing of kids. As mentioned in the latest roundup, an interesting discussion sparked off when Nathan of The Registan wrote about the attacks being launched on Johns Hopkins professor Frederick Starr. The latter has now reacted to the criticism, reports Nathan.

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