Article Archive for Year 2011
Alright, this is getting really funny — the more people express their opinion on Starbucks and KFC potentially coming to Uzbekistan the more we receive shots from neweurasia‘s friends. One of them, KFC Kokand style, called “Kokand Fried Chicken.”
A reader from Kokand sent us this picture explaining that the product has been sold at bazaars in the central part of the ancient city of Kokand, Fergana region. It’s just a “package” of chicken: one can buy as much as they want — no weight limits :)
Since the day we have covered the “Starbucks-coming-soon-to-Uzbekistan?” issue, there has been a great interest by my friends wondering if that’s for real and when it would be opened. There was some coverage by other media outlet that covers Centarl Asia.
In order to find out if the picture by an Uzbek user on Facebook was not photoshopped, I decided to visit the place located at Shevchenko street, downtown Tashkent.
I was not surprised to see that coming-soon coffee shop nearby Perfectum mobile cellular company and Nobel Pharmsanoat pharmacy factory — well-known Starbucks logo made me feel like I will get a chance to try some Caramel Frappuccino soon! Read the full story »
Editor’s note: Two Russian pilots have been incarcerated in Tajikistan, prompting a huge backlash from Russia’s political class, and all but drowning out Tajik views on the matter. Alpharabius gives his two somoni, including a little research about the pilots’ mysterious employers.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is demanding an “explanation” from the Tajik government over the imprisonment of two Russian pilots in Tajikistan on the charges of smuggling, illegal border crossing, and violation of international aviation regulations by the provincial court of the Khatlon region of southern Tajikistan, which borders Afghanistan. In a televised meeting with Russian bloggers on November 8th, Medvedev remarked:
“The decision on this case raises many questions not only about the nature of the crime committed, but also the process that took place… Yesterday itself, I instructed all government agencies — the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, law enforcement agencies — to engage in this. They need to contact their respective counterparts in Tajikistan… We will wait for an official response from the authorities of the country, with whom we have alliances, and only then make a decision. But, these solutions, depending on the response, could be symmetrical or asymmetrical.”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry also called the decision “extremely severe” as well as “politically motivated”, and warned that the ruling could have a negative impact on relations between Moscow and Dushanbe.
These remarks out of the Russian executive branch echo sentiments made by Russian politicians and media after the verdict of the Tajik court. The Russian parliament’s upper house speaker, Valentina Matviyenko, remarked,
“We did not find any legal evidence of the pilots’ fault; the guilty verdict is based on speculations and ungrounded suggestions.”
She also did not discount sanctions against Tajikistan, noting,
“If our voice is not heard, Russia reserves the right to take appropriate measures.”
While speaking to journalists in St. Petersburg, Matviyenko emphasized that “everyone” in Russia was outraged over the Tajik court’s ruling. I must say, my impression is that this isn’t far from the truth: from the extreme right to the extreme left, virtually the entire political spectrum of Russia has responded passionately:
Tashkent’s decade-plus old independent newspaper “Zerkalo XXI” has been barred from publication – its been shut down.
“Zerkalo XXI” has been one of the Uzbekistan’s first newspapers to challenge authorities – to raise issues of sensitivity the regime would rather not be discussed, especially publicly. The paper is owned by Media-Biznes and its website operates via the Russian language. Mondo Times says that “Zerkalo XXI” covers “local news, sports, business, jobs, and community.”
It was said that “Zerkalo XXI” would close down on January 1st 2012, due to a lack of funds. But that date has been moved up a few months. The newspaper’s staff learned of their paper’s new status on November 2nd, as they were going to press with the issue. Why? For a few reasons. Read the full story »
Originally published by NewEurasia.net partner, Kanal PIK
by Jim Brooke
When I was in Dushanbe, India’s defense minister just happened to be in the neighborhood, and popped in for a visit.
After the traditional bread and honey welcome ceremony at the airport, he met behind closed doors with Tajikistan’s defense minister and discussed future uses of Ayni. This former Soviet airbase was re-commissioned last month near Tajikistan’s capital. India had quietly renovated the base and its 3-kilometer landing strip to the tune of $70 million.
Two weeks later, Pakistan rose to the challenge, announcing relief for “landlocked Tajikistan.” A $25 million, 220 kilometer road would be built north from Gilgit, Pakistan. It would follow river valleys bounded by 7,000 meter high peaks, cross Afghanistan’s Wakhan corridor, and reach the soaring Pamir Mountains of eastern Tajikistan. A Pakistani press report said: “Pakistan is the only country through which this Central Asian State could do business with the outer world.”
The Chinese, who recently built roads to Tajikistan from east, told Dushanbe there is no hurry to pay off their $1 billion foreign debt to Beijing. And to clear the diplomatic decks for a solid relationship, Beijing has dropped its claim to 20 percent of Tajikistan’s territory. In a final border settlement this year, Tajikistan signed over to China about one percent of its eastern mountains.
Within months, Tajik and Chinese soldiers were participating in a joint anti-terror drill in Western China. And, as Russian language skills whither among a new generation of Tajiks, China has opened a Confucius Institute in Dushanbe to promote the study of Mandarin.
Not to be left behind, leaders of Russia, the former colonial power, visited Dushanbe (former Stalinabad). In a joint press appearance with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced that the two countries had agreed to a 49-year renewal on leases for three bases that house Moscow’s 201st Motorized Division. This is the largest Russian army detachment posted outside of Russia. (The Moscow press trumpeted this victory. But Tajik reporters noted to me that Tajikistan rejected Russia’s offer to take over border policing duties and that at the base lease press conference, Tajikistan’s President stood by silently, not saying yes, not saying no.)
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According to official information, the Hungarian leader is expected to hold bilateral talks on the highest level during the visit, and sign a joint declaration outlining the prospects of Uzbek-Hungarian cooperation.
A range of intergovernmental and interagency documents are anticipated to be inked to cover political, trade-economic, investment, scientific and technical aspects of bilateral interaction, Uzbek President’s press-service reports.
As Uzbek MFA’s Jahon information agency reports, Hungary, during it’s Presidency in the Council of Eurporean Union initiated Karimov’s visit to Brussels where he met with President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso and EU Commissioner for Energy Gunther Ettinger. Read the full story »
Despite its small size and under 8-million population, Israel is challenging a country with 10 times bigger population and 70 times larger surface – Iran. Israel claims Iran is developing a nuclear weapon which Tehran will deploy against the Jewish state. Not surprisingly, (thank you, AIPAC) Israel’s claim is in perfect unison with that emanating in Washington D.C. – Iran is developing a nuclear arsenal. Read the full story »
I visited the Facebook page of Starbucks to satisfy my interest in how many people around the world follow the company. How surprised would you be to see a photo posted by an Uzbek user, who was wondering if Starbucks is really coming to Uzbekistan? Yeah, so would I.
The ad on the building promises Starbucks coming soon. But how real is that?
To be honest, if that’s true then this could be a significant event to mark the American businesses’ raising interest in investing in Uzbekistan’s economy.
If not, then fans would just have a Déjà vu: couple years ago people of Tashkent already witnessed a presence of a fake Starbucks — coffee mugs, t-shirts, coffee with a label of a popular coffee company were on sale. But there was a problem — it was all fake! Guess who was in charge of that? Your guess is right — Gulnara Karimova, daughter of the Uzbek President Islam Karimov, who accomodated the coffee shop at her compound nearby Premier hall and former Basha night club, with an undercover title: “La Shakar.” Read the full story »
There is a new film in Hollywood that has Uzbekistan written all over it.
The Uzbek and South Korean co-produced film “Hanaan” (meaning “Promised Land” or “Paradise” in Korean) is being screened at this year’s Audi sponsored American Film Institute Festival (AFI FEST), being held from November 3rd to 10th 2011 in the film capital of the world, Los Angeles.
Central Asia News informs that the AFI FEST qualifies for the Short Films category of the annual Academy Awards, as recognized by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. AFI is an independent national non-profit organization, which seeks to preserve the legacy of America’s film heritage and pass it onto future generations, was founded in 1967 by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Read the full story »
Editor’s note: Hillary Clinton: rushed, unprepared, and unclear. Condoleeza Rice: careful, prepared, and very clear. But were both hypocritical and insufficient, just in different ways? Tajik civil society and journalists debate the two Secretaries of State’s visits to Tajikistan in 2005 and 2011. neweurasia’s Alpharabius reports.
Recently, a peaceful debate almost erupted into a verbal fight between several of my friends in the Tajik civil society and journalistic community. The faultline was between those who adore Hillary Clinton and those who are fond of Condoleezza Rice. During her term as Secretary of State, Rice had visited Tajikistan, and although it’s been only two weeks and several years since Clinton and Rice visited our nation, feelings are still hot among the Tajiks.
In Dushanbe, Clinton discussed bilateral and regional issues with President Rahmon and Foreign Minister Zarifi, then held a town hall meeting “with Tajiks from across the spectrum of activities; from human rights activists to religious leaders, to members of the media, women leaders, students, and educators,” as she put it herself. A friend of mine, who was invited to the town hall meeting, states that he met with some civil society representatives, but that the audience was mostly pro-government:
“Neither were there leaders or well-known activists of political parties, or any well-known independent journalists, nor the actual religious leaders, who are currently under the government pressure.”
Now compare this to Rice, who met with the leaders and activists of the opposition when she visited Tajikistan in October 2005. Of course, this interaction did not bring about any substantial changes in Tajikistan, but it nevertheless at least showed that the United States had knowledge of the political situation in Tajikistan and made an attempt to pay some attention to the opposition. Indeed, Rice warned Tajik authorities against further oppression and suffocation of political freedom in the country.
In a recent interview with the weekly Ozodagon, the leader of the Social-Democratic Party of Tajikistan, Rahmatillo Zoirov, criticized the US Embassy in Dushanbe for “dividing political parties from the civil society”. According to Zoirov, Rice brought a list of 16 issues related to the situation in Tajikistan and requested the Tajik authorities to focus on those issues, yet Clinton limited herself to a few broad declarations.
Zoirov adds that he was disappointed by the Embassy’s attitude towards democratic values in Tajikistan and added that the reason this important is because “the position of the embassy is [effectively] the position of the administration,” in terms of the impression it makes.
However, some of my friends disagree, pointing out that Clinton was sharper than Rice in pointing out the issue of religious freedom, since the government is under extreme criticism for the recent adoption of the law that prohibits citizens under the age of 18 from attending mosques. They add that Rice also donned an Islamic scarf when she visited a girls’ religious school, precisely during the peak of our nation’s heated dispute about the headgear.
However, again in defense of Rice, is the fact that her visit was much more clear than Clinton’s in terms of message. One friend put it this way:
“The picture of Condi wearing the Islamic scarf and talking to bearded Islamic teachers was a much more stronger signal to the Tajik government than Clinton’s broad-spectrum declarations, who was talking about serious issues, but smiling simultaneously.”
I, personally, am a fan of Clinton, for I have unpleasant and disappointing impressions of Rice as Bush’s warmonger. I’ll never forger her “conviction” about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, whereas Clinton is a much more soft-mannered and nuanced person. And yet, I must also agree with my friends that ultimately Clinton’s visit to our nation seemed unprepared, rushed, and unclear, with the real conversations happening behind closed doors and the town hall just a decoration.