Voices from Central Asia and the Caucasus

After a busy summer, we bid you welcome to a new roundup of notable online conversations from Central Asia and the Caucasus, brought to you by neweurasia and read out loud to you by the headmaster of a school in southern Kyrgyzstan's Sary-Moghul. There is not all too much being written on Georgia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan this time around, but if you think we're wrong, please send us a link to blog posts on the countries omitted in this roundup.

Onnik Krikorian continues posting on his recent visit to Georgia, where he visited the Yezidi minority. Of Kurdish descent, there is a sizeable community of Yezidis in Armenia, and a smaller one in Georgia. On his Oneworld Blog, Onnik provides interviews, photos, and background information on the problems facing the minority in both Caucasian countries. Among a set of new contributors on Blogrel is Observer, who in his latest post discusses new data by the World Economic Forum on Economic Competitiveness in the Armenian context. Ara on Martini or Bust!!! has some questions about the recent death of a political activist – whereas the authorities give a ‘broken hip’ as the reason.

PC blogger Trent Milam has a list with things the Kyrgyz people love, among them Mike Tyson, the donkey from Shrek, and everything ‘Useful for the Health’. Ceilingfan, an Englishman travelling in Kyrgyzstan, has an amusing post on how not to ride on a Bishkek marshrutka, a local minibus. A recent New York Times article about a giant swastika near Naryn made of trees prompted Ennis on Sepia Mutiny to argue that it might not be a piece of forestry by German POWs but ‘stranded Buddhist time travellers who were trying to signal their spacecraft’. On neweurasia, Yulia posts about lie detectors to clean up Kyrgyz bureaucracy and a new incident on Bishkek's airport involving an American aircraft, whereas Ben posted some photos of a recent trip to Sary-Moghul, a village in Kyrgyzstan's remote Alay-valley. Mirsulzhan Namazaliev, youth activist from Bishkek, has recently started his English blog, besides his Russian Livejournal.

Blogging has made it into the classroom at one of Kazakhstan's most prestigious universities. Frederick Emrich and his students at KIMEP all use blogs to discover new information technologies and share their experiences using them. Sean Roberts continues his excellent coverage of Kazakhstan on his Roberts-Report. The latest post introduces a worthy contender to the upcoming “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”. Nomad, a 40-million-dollar production sponsored by the Kazakh government, should be released at the same time than Sasha Cohen's film, argues Roberts. The WEF competitiveness data has sparked a post on the recently-reactivated KZBlog, written by an American government consultant based in Astana. There is simply no real interest in only marginally-profitable businesses, resulting in a lack of customer-oriented services. On neweurasia, Leila ponders whether it is good or bad that blogs will be considered as mass media, and Ben has some thoughts on the recent mining tragedy and only muted criticism from the government afterwards.

Following up on Vadim's ‘Fly Tajik Air’ post recently, Craig and Simon of the Silk Route Project went through the ordeal of buying a one-way ticket from Khorog in Gorno-Badakhshan to the capital Dushanbe. The spectacular flight compensated for the tedious and Kafkaesque ticket purchasing procedure. On neweurasia, Alexander thinks that the upcoming presidential elections will be free and fair because incumbent Rakhmonov has no opponent to fear. On the same blog, Highlander reports that golden teeth are about to get outlawed in Tajikistan.

In a blog only recently set up, Turkmen blogger Karakum explains his vision for this new project, Akmy-Garamy?. As he explains, he wishes this new blog to be a forum where Turkmens can participate actively in discussing the development of an alternative future for their country. Turkmen blogger Paikhas has also used the blog platform to collect more resources on the study of Turkmenistan. Sahypalar is a compendium of links to sites and blogs taking Turkmenistan as their primary theme, while Federativnaya Respublika Turkmenistan is more specifically political and, as the title suggest, deals with issues of federalism in Turkmenistan and beyond (all links in Russian). At neweurasia, Peter recently wrote about John Deere's latest successfully concluded contract with Turkmenistan. The U.S. agricultural machinery firm has apparently taken Turkmenbashi's spiritual opus to heart and promises to give it pride of place at its company museum. neweurasia's Turkmen blog also covered the chaotic fall-out that seems to accompany every cotton-picking season in that country.

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