Voices from Central Asia and the Caucasus

Meat vendor in Osh market, Kyrgyzstan

Just returning from a shopping tour on Osh Market, we welcome you to the latest roundup of notable online conversations that took place during the last two weeks, brought to you bi-weekly by neweurasia.

France's new legislation to make the denial of the Armenian genocide a crime is making waves in the blogosphere beyond the Caucasus. Turk Erkan Saka, PhD candidate at Rice University, has several posts on his blog and connects the new law with those in France who don't want to see Turkey as a full EU member. Onnik Krikorian on his blog Oneworld also has some information. Artyom thinks that together with the announcement that Orhan Pamuk today received the Literature Nobel Prize, Thursday 12 is not a very lucky date for Turkey.

The Georgian-Russian conflict dominates the media attention given to the small Southern Caucasus republic. After the arrest of four alleged Russian spies, Russia withdrew its diplomatic corps and imposed sanctions on Georgia. On Global Voices, Veronika Khokhlova covered the reactions of the Russian blogosphere to a great extent, see here and here. Onnik Krikorian reports of Armenian fears that the blockade of Georgia might lead to shortages in Armenia. Dan O'Huiginn is also covering the brawl between the two former Soviet republics, and among other things reports that web hosting services now join the fight as well. Also of note is Dan's background post on the ongoing conflict.

Every second Thursday, Leila's roundups of the Kazakh blogosphere are the ultimate collection of blogging voices from the largest Central Asian republic. To bridge the time between now and next week's new edition, go read about: Deep Purple in Almaty, calls for parliamentary democracy in Kazakhstan by the daughter of the president, the Kazakh ambassador to the UK writes an article about Borat and provokes about 250 comments, the ordinary Kazakh's reaction to the Russian-Georgian crisis and whether the government is taking sides. Also, KZBlog has a fun post about Kazakh toothpaste and the new Tenge bills introduced by the National Bank.

Sean Roberts writes on his Roberts-Report that President Bakiyev might again try to dissolve his critics by dialogue. Ahead of a planned demonstration demanding the resignation of Bakiyev, Roberts asks whether the incumbent will be able to convince his opponents without carrying out the promised reforms. A roundup of blogging activities in general can be found over at neweurasia. The case of the US Air Force Major Jill Metzger (The Registan discussed it earlier) is taken up again by The Asia Pages. Metzger had disappeared from the Manas airbase in September, and whether or not she had been kidnapped is now subject of a criminal investigation.

The race leading towards the Tajik elections is heating up. Not that there will be a lof of competition as neweurasia blogger Alexander Sadikov says, incumbent Rakhmonov has no other party to fear after the main opposition parties have all withdrawn their candidates. The latest bit of news coming from the mountaineous Central Asian republic came when first, numerous websites critical of the government were censored, and later access got restored (albeit not for two really critical sites). Watch out for ongoing election coverage well beyond the polling day (6 November 2006) on the same blog. Sean Roberts comments on the withdrawal of the Islamic Renaissance Party's candidates.

Kamolanavo, a blog of an Uzbek journalism student who is also freelancing for several newspapers and websites is an interesting snapshot of the life a young aspiring journalist in Uzbekistan. Another blog, Civic Community in Uzbekistan (Grashdanskoe Obshchestvo v Uzbekistane) has stories of interest for the hard-pressed Uzbek NGO sector, including reviews of new parliamentary bills and their implications for civil society. Nathan of The Registan reports that the EU is considering to roll back sanctions imposed on Uzbekistan following the Andijon incident last May. Nathan thinks that both sides would benefit from a rapprochement.

Nathan links to a new Wiki project on the improvement of the Central Asia coverage on the world's open source encyclopedia. On neweurasia, Neil rounds up press freedom and regional security. Ben found that there's a connection between parking tickets of UN diplomats and their countries’ corruption. But it doesn't seem to work for Central Asia.


  • Did Georgian blogosphere react to their conflict with Russia at all? Would be interesting to see…

  • Ben

    I haven’t really come across an indigenous Georgian blogosphere, but that could also be my ignorance. Maybe Veronica knows of some Georgians having their LJ in Russian. Other than that, I am sad that Susan is not in Georgia anymore.

  • There are some posts and links to the Georgian-Russian-Conflict and much more. Perhaps ou can find something there. Regards, Rapho.
    But the blog is bilingual: german-english

  • I believe it to be an honor for Turkey as Orhan Pamuk receives the Nobel Prize. With the easing of restrictions in Turkey as the ultimate goal I believe in, it seems it is France that is taking a turn for worse.

    Regardless of genocide claims and the like, it is the freedom of expression that’s been dealt a blow here.

    Whether we like it or not, the ‘freedom of expression’ enjoyed by the Armenians and others against the Turks is something that benefits the Turks as well in return.

    And this is where France is guilty, and Armenians maybe guilty by association.

  • Dan

    Good question, Leila. Livejournal has some 400 users registered as being in Georgia, but it seems only a couple of dozen are updated at all frequently.

    After a quick look, it appears this blogger is based in Sukhumi, in the separatist region of Abkhazia, within Georgia. DJ Drive lives in Tbilisi, and has been posting a lot on the Russia-Georgia conflict (in Russian, but with many extracts from English-language news reports).

  • […] The issue of the Armenian Genocide has always been a hot-topic discussion, with the claims of whether what historically could be considered as genocide or not, and ultimately who is to blame for historical events. For an Armenian point of view on the Genocide and the French Law Banning anyone from saying that it did not happen, visit Thursday’s Central Asia Article on Global Voices. […]

  • […] When one of the best writers in the country flees, is asked not to come back and then wins a Nobel prize in literature while in exile, would it be a bit disingenuous to accuse the Swedish Academy of bias against awarding Nobel prizes to mainland Chinese? Perhaps not, judging from Sina.com [zh] bloggers—those who have heard of him—in response to Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk’s Nobel win this month: […]

  • A most interesting site. TRAVELSAPIEN happy to locate this very informative and wide reaching set of comments from so many countries. Love the FREEDOM of the internet and the voices from all sides of the equation we face on this great planet. Anyway – Having recently returned from Siberia it was facinating to note, after being in Armenia on a couple of occassionsm, and, where Armenian Brandy is considered the best in the world (maybe not since the French are involved) NO offense but the French will always insure THEIR brand retains such title against all odds. TOO BAD! Fact is TRAVELSAPIEN was fortunate to be introduced to cognac from Kyrgyzstan. WOW! Don’t tell anyone (lolololo) THIS IS COGNAC! The best taste. The smoothest. and oh so inexpensive! Won’t replace Armenian anytime soon but don’t discount it. Cousins and absolutely fantastic. Enjoy!

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