Voices from Central Asia and the Caucasus

Standing at the edge of the abyss close to Kyrgyzstan's Pik Lenin, let's not waste any time to present you the highlights from two weeks of online conversation from Central Asia and the Caucasus.

Onnik Krikorian posts another one of his indispensable roundups from the Armenian blogosphere on his Oneworld Blog. Among this edition's highlights are the continuous land-grab by corrupt state officials and dual citizenship for Armenians. Ani of neweurasia writes about the stigmatisation of veneral diseases. With no sex education, it should come as no surprise that a 11-year-old girl has contracted syphilis.

A nondescript Moroccan restaurant in Tblisi became the scene of the peaceful solution to the US-Iranian nuclear brawl. Susan, writing on her blog SueandnotU took on the challenge to compete against the “burly and great-thumbed Perisan enemy” in a Thumb War. On the same blog, Susan discusses the notion of ‘unavailability’ in the lifes of average Georgians and compares it to the American Way of Life. Does life taste better when you can't eat strawberries all year?

For the first time, Leila rounds up the Russian-speaking Kazakh blogosphere on neweurasia. Highlights include the launch of the first Kazakh satellite, a new round in the Borat conspiracy and a controversial new mass media law. Leila also rounds up activities on the newly-launched Russian-language Kazakhstan blog. The Tour-de-France is nigh – and Kazakhstanis across the globe will anxiously watch how their new team Astana-Würth and its front-runner Alexander Vinokurov will perform. Cycloblog writes about the team's involvement in a doping scandal that might jeopardise the riders’ participation in the world's biggest race.

Yulia of neweurasia analyses the findings of a poll recently carried out in the mountainous Central Asian republic. According to its findings, there are still large rifts between north and south. Yulia also quickly rounds up what has been happening on the Russian version of the blog. LJ-user Teleemo posts about his adventurous border crossing from China to Kyrgyzstan via the Torugart Pass, complete with photos.

Nathan of The Registan thinks that a new ‘Hate Crime Law’ is designed to make Uzbekistan's president Islam Karimov look like a ‘defender of the faith’. An anonymous contributor to neweurasia gives some background to the ongoing oppression of civil society in Uzbekistan and explains the mechanics at work. On the same blog, Nick discusses a new and longer video on the Andijon incident that was recently being released by the Uzbek government. On Seidenstrasse, night_eulen posts about the Fete de la Musique à la Uzbekistan: The French embassy organised a concert in Babur Park and three Jazz bands played in front of around 200 people. The post comes along with photos of Uzbek pop singer Sevara Nazrakhan, who resides in London to work together with Peter Gabriel. Rap-off: Uzbek style. Head on over to Vseusnyi Blog to check out a rap war between Shohruh and Shahrier. There are music files so that you can listen and decide for yourself who is the victor (RUS). Uzbek boxer Timur Ibragimov lost to American boxer Calvin Brock in Las Vegas. Novoe Uzbekskoe Slovo has the scoop and some pics (RUS). From the 24th of June to the 30th of September is the Youth Internet Marathon for youngsters (?) between the ages of 5 and 35! There will be speakers from the Agency of Communication and Information of Uzbekistan, the Committee on Women in Uzbekistan, the Tashkent University for Information and Technology, and many more. Winners will receive gifts and certificates from the participating organizations, reports Alfiya (RUS).

After some technical problems, James's online Tajik presidential elections are back online. On neweurasia, Vadim writes about the recent deaths among Tajik migrant workers in Russia. He talks about the misfortunes of many such people who leave their own country to seek out work. Walking along Tursun-Zade street in Dushanbe, Erik Petersson has another unique insight into Tajikistan on his photo blog Dushanbe Picture.

The wider region:
Chirol of ComingAnarchy discusses the implications of Russian president Putin's decision to cut off gas to the Ukraine during the beginning of 2006. It might lead to more oil and gas (both from Central Asia and the Middle East) being transitted through the Caucasus, and thus cost Russia trillions of dollars. Cars as socio-economic indicators in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan? Stavros enlightens the readers and finds some revealing truths behind the roaring Ladas, Volgas, Daewoos and Mercedes. Amira of The Golden Road to Samarqand reports that more archeological excavation sites are being protected now and also names some of the most promising sites in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Nathan of The Registan is currently collecting a great reading list on Central Asia, including both fiction and non-fiction. The blog's readers have already started posting their suggestions.

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