The significance of the Caucasus and Central Asia for the Western World is growing as ever. Especially after Putin’s Kremlin has terrified Europe by repeated blackmailing during its quarrel over increased gas prices with the Ukraine in winter of 2005 and with Lukashenka’s authoritarian Belarus in December of 2006.
In 2005, a gas pipeline, running from Russia through Ukraine, supplying 25% of European energy markets, has been shut down. It seems like Europe felt a horrifying chill of the Russian winter coming from the remote prairies of merciless Siberia, flowing through the empty gas pipes.
Apparently the West got finally convinced that an increasingly assertive, anti-western and authoritarian Russia is a dangerously unpredictable energy (and political) partner. After these events, western capitals started to talk even more enthusiastically about diversifying European energy supplies.
Specifically, the West considers transporting abundant Caspian gas and oil resources from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan via the Caucasus and Turkey to Europe, bypassing Russia. This relatively new project is called Nabucco Project. It has been circulating in western political and business circles for quiet sometime already, with more or less intensity. Read the full story »
As I stood guilty of not writing anything new for the latest neweurasia regional survey, I thought it would be a neat idea if one could print out all articles from one document and take it to one’s favourite armchair. This PDF makes sure that you don’t miss a single (English-language) article of our survey. I plan to make this a permanent feature now that the template is set.
Editor’s Note: What follows is part of a cross-blog survey that explores what Central Eurasia might look like fifteen years from now.
0400 hours, December 20, 2021. The Pentagon
US Secretary of Defense Zalmay Khalilzad strode through the winding halls of the Pentagon rubbing sleep from his eyes. He had been summoned to the Situation Room yet again, which was no real surprise; ever since the Third Gulf War two years ago, it had been one crisis after the next.
“Report,” he barked.
“Sir, the Islamic Republic of Turkestan has invaded Turkmenistan.”
“And Kazakhstan’s response?” Khalilzad immediately replied.
“Just as we feared,” responded a suit-and-tie. “They are readying their troops along the border, and President Nazarbaeva has already declared that they will invade unless Turkestan withdraws immediately.”
“Terrific…” muttered Khalilzad.
Read the full story »
Russian tourists rest in the shade in the Novy Afon (New Athos) monastery near the capital of the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia – by eurutuf
What follows is a roundup of notable blog conversations from the Caucasus that took place over the last week. For a change, how about we take you through the countries in reverse alphabetical order?
The breaking story at the beginning: Georgia seems to be stepping up its efforts to re-incorporate the breakaway province of Abkhazia into its fragile state and Nathan of the Registan gives some great background to a conflict that has long been in the making. In contrast to the Black Sea province of Adjaria, it seems that Abkhazia won’t give in without force. How will Abkhaz backer Russia react? Matt Jay has more on the story and reports that a warlord from within Georgia took refuge in Abkhazia today. Is this the casus belli? Susan of Sueandnotu brings it straight to the point:
A fascinating spectacle is unfolding in the wild, uncontrollable west of the country where parliamentarians and well-coiffed ministers are squaring off with warriors and wise men from another time. It’s as perfect an illustration as you could ask for of the whole untamed spirit of this place in the modern world; at times wearing modernity like an ill-fitting suit.
Originally posted on Global Voices
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).
Like our new design? It signals a new era for neweurasia as we have entered into a partnership with Transitions Online to promote blogging and free speech in Central Asia and the Caucasus.
Simply put, this means that we have launched Russian language blogs for Kazkahstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as an Uzbek language blog for (naturally) Uzbekistan. We have also hired bridge-bloggers from the region to promote interaction across cultures, develop our Russian and Uzbek blogs, and help expand the Eurasian blogosphere more generally.
We are still looking for talent for all of our blogs of all languages, so if you are knowledgeable and interested in the region and looking to swap ideas and engage with other interested people, please send an email to info[at]neweurasia[dot]net and we will have you blogging in no time.
More information on our partnership with TOL will be available on this site in the near future.
- The management
Vakhs valley, March 2006, Erik Petersson, Dushanbe Pictures.
Welcome to the latest roundup from the Central Asian and Caucasian blogosphere, brought to you by neweurasia. First off, apologies for the long delay in presenting you this edition. Now that final year exams are over, our postings should appear bi-weekly again.
As usual we take you through the countries alphabetically.
Onnik Krikorian writes that one of the most independent and popular TV stations has been denied a broadcasting frequency. The same blog also reports on a possible new momentum towards a peace deal between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Nessuna is shocked to hear that another Armenian fell victim to a racist murder in Moscow. Christian Garbis over at Notes from Hairenik writes on the strange obssesion of each and every vendor in Yerevan about the correct change. Read the full story »
Zhenkov Cathedral, Almaty, Kazakhstan
As usual, we take you through the countries alphabetically. Unfortunately, the Azeri blogosphere is still underrepresented in our roundup – so if you’re a blogger writing on/from Azerbaijan, be sure to drop us a line with your link.
The tragic death of an Indian student in Yerevan and the subsequent protests by the Indian student community has only been covered in great detail by some Armenian blogs. Onnik Krikorian, author of Oneworld, has so far provided the most comprehensive coverage of the incident. The Armenian authorities are believed to have reacted too slowly (the emergency service took 45 to arrive at the scene) and the rector of Yerevanâ€™s Medical University is blamed of racism. There are many photos, an account of a demonstration written by Nessuna and the latest update on this Sunday’s events. Nanyaar?, an Indian blogger based in Yerevan, has also covered the story. On her blog, there are photos from a cortÃ¨ge and an open letter to anyone concerned.
Sue of SueAndNotYou has a heart-warming account of what it means to have friends in Georgia. The story is about Felix, an “orphan kid whoâ€™s had just one lucky thing in his whole rotten lot in life and thatâ€™s his friends”.
Adam Kesher comments on his blog about a border incident in which Uzbek borders reportedly opened fire on three Kazakh nationals as they were attempting to steal barbed wire from a temporary fence (link in Russian). Instead of carrying out a joint investigation with Uzbekistan, he says, Kazakhstan should issue a protest note as the actions of the borer guards are unacceptable. However, as Nathan at Registan notes, diplomatic relations between the countries have recently been on the mend. Ben of neweurasia argues that Kazakhstan’s Iran policy is genuinely invidual. Maybe, as KZBlog mentions in the comments, this is because Kazakhstan has its own nuclear aspirations. Nathan of The Registan notes that English comedian Sasha Baron Cohen, aka Borat, found an unexpected defender in the daughter of President Nazarbayev.
Civil society activist Edil Baisalov was the victim of a murder attempt last week. On his blog, he thanks all those who have wished him a speedy recovery. Known for his outspoken criticism of notorious gangster Ryspek Akmatbayev, Baisalov is sure that the attack is a sign of the mafia becoming ever more powerful in the country. Nathan of The Registan has also covered the event, as has Amira of The Golden Road to Samarqand. The latter post also features interesting insights into what Kyrgyz students feel about the current situation in their country. Also on the Golden Road to Samarqand is an interesting post about corruption in Kyrgyz higher education. An anonymous contributor to the Kyrgyzstan Student Blog has also posted on this topic.
A hunger strike that started after a fire in a trade center has finally been resolved. Businesswoman G. Altan signed a contract with the victims to resolve the four month ordeal, reports Luke on neweurasia. He also reports on the ongoing protests in Ulaanbaatar where a protester has resorted to immolation – and lit himself on fire. Guido of Mongolian Matters reports on a bizarre online dispute: The Wikipedia profiles of several Mongolian politicians are severely contested. Is the son of prime minister Enkhbold also involved in the row?
Russian blogger Ailoyros has featured some photos of northern Tajikistan in a recent post (link in Russian). One of the pictures is of the Varzob River, which flows from the mountains to the capital, Dushanbe. On neweurasia, James reports that a USAID-funded project sponsors computer equipment for local mosques and Tajik Boy says that Tajiks are often victims of race-related crimes in Russia.
Turkmen blogger Karakum has translated a discussion that first appeared on neweurasia into Russian. He is of the opinion that increased EU trade with Turkmenistan could reap some benefits for the populations welfare, contrary to what is commonly claimed by human rights organisations. However, Dennis de Tray, former World Bank country director for Central Asia disagrees on the Center for Global Development’s blog. In the latest post on opposition Turkmen blog Paikhas, readers are promised the full imminent publication of an account of the Ashgabat earthquake of 1948 (link in Russian). This was the earthquake that claimed the life of Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov’s mother and many other members of his family. The book, originally written by Shokhrat Kadyrov, who runs the blog, makes the bold claim that only 50,000 people died in the earthquake, a much lower estimate than that offered by the Soviet and, latterly Turkmen authorities. The post also features historic photos of scenes of devastation in Ashgabat
at the time.
The Fast and the Furious 4: Every Sunday in Tashkent there is an unofficial car race. This last time it was stopped short during a crash. Follow this link for pics of the fender-bender on Vseyusnyi Blog. The United Nations hosted a Millenium Development Goals event for young people in Tashkent on April 22 entitled: “7th Annual Global Youth Service Day.” The event was designed to allow young people to socialize and discuss development in the coming years both in Uzbekistan and the rest of the world and Alfisha has the rundown. The nature of Uzbekistan: Vseyusnyi Blog has another great set of nature pictures; mostly of flowers, but with a bird as well. The wife of imprisoned opposition politician Sanjar Umarov, Indira Umarova, has written an open letter to Uzbek authorities asking for the release of her husband. The letter got published on the Sunshine Uzbekistan Coalition’s blog, in Russian and in English. Olesya of neweurasia reports that yet another international organisation, this time the American Bar Association, is accused of engaging in activities not foreseen under its charter and will most likely have to leave Uzbekistan soon. An interesting and lively discussion about Islam in Uzbekistan took place on neweurasia after Ataman Rakim posted about the arrest of seven alleged Islamic extremists.
Welcome to the latest roundup of the Central Asian and Caucasian blogosphere, brought to you bi-weekly by neweurasia‘s Ben, James, Peter and Luke. As usual, we take you through the countries alphabetically.
SueAndNotYou has posted some great posts over the last weeks. Sue set off to have her spring-break in Svaneti for she hoped to see the total solar eclipse from the moutains there. Svaneti, a notorious region in northern Georgia, famous for its lawlessness and the unpredictability of its inhabitants, turned out to be less dramatic than previously feared.
Xdomen in Atyrau has issued a blanket invitation to anybody who visits his hometown. He is pleased to announce the existence of a club featuring live music and promises to accompany anybody who contacts him (Link in Russian). Betsy of Stanmenistan notes that the spring is arriving in Northern Kazakhstan. While she is happy that normal temperatures return, she is also annoyed by the rain and the resulting puddles. Actually, in Kazakhstan, you call them ponds as they cover 60% of the city’s surface. Ben of neweurasia says that a recent visit of Kazakh President Nazarbayev to Moscow was used to ink some new deals on oil and gas projects.
Amira over at The Golden Road to Samarqand says that infamous politician/businessman/criminal Ryspek Akmatbaev can run for parliament – after months of controversy and mutual accusations between different political camps. Nathan of The Registan also has some thoughts on the issue as has David Read. Edil Baisalov takes issue with how Ryspek Akmatbayev has been described in a Reuters article â€“ i.e. as a controversial businessman. He argues that Akmatbayev is, in fact, much worse than just simply controversial (Link in Russian). The Kyrgyzstan Student Blog features several posts: Nurilya writes about one of her friends that got kidnapped and forcefully married to a stranger, unfortunately rather the rule than exception in Kyrgyzstan. Gulbara writes about ‘our capital Bishkek’, and gives a pretty uplifting account of what the capital means to the Kyrgyz nation (Link in Russian). More on a potential civil war in Kyrgyzstan, youth, a clean capital, and crime and rape in a multi-mini-essay post.
neweurasia recently launched its Mongolia blog thanks to Luke Distelhorst in Ulaanbaatar. While we will thoroughly cover the entire Mongolian blogosphere in these roundups from the next edition onwards, here comes a little summary of what happened in Mongolia over the past week, as reported by Luke. The United States Ambassador took a hard line on corruption with certain members of parliament and cautioned them of the consequences if they didn’t comply. However this is now being overshadowed by the continuing protest and hunger strike, currently on day two, calling for the resignation of many government officials and President N. Enkhbayar. Journalists fight for a freedom of information act and a free press while another Mongolian fought (and won) a match for a World Boxing Federation title. Catch up on these articles and more on the most up to date blog on Mongolia.
Ailoyros is a Russian visiting Tajikistan. In his latest post he offers some immediate impressions and a brief idea about the cost of everything. All in all, he doesn’t seem to impressed, but meanwhile he promises to provide more details on his trip. Tajik Boy of neweurasia is happy about a recent speech by US ambassador Hoagland. Tajik Boy shares the ambassador’s optimism and thinks that Tajikistan’s greatest resource is its people. The double blow of unexpected independence and civil war in the 1990s has, fortunately, made the Tajiks stronger as a nation. The comments to the post also contain interesting information. As usual, Dushanbe Pictures by Erik Petersson has great photos from Tajikistan on its front page, this time from the recent Navruz celebrations.
Turkmen blogger Karakum features a guest post written by Maya Ashyrova. She discusses the composition of the Turkmen population in general, and the young generations in particular. Due to the lack of reliable census data, the discussion is based upon some sophisticated guesstimates, and shows that Turkmenistan’s educational policies are in dire need of a radical overhaul (Link in Russian). Another Turkmen blogger, Paikhan, posts an excerpt of a conference discussing political reform in the former Soviet Union. Are bicameral parliaments a step towards democratisation and why do regime changes in ex-Soviet republics often originate from the regions, not the centres (Link in Russian)? Peter of neweurasia reports that new speculation is abound with regards to new pipeline routes and that the fight against drug trafficking remains a dubious affair in Turkmenistan.
Vseyusnyi Blog offers some random truisms (at least according to Nigget) of Uzbekistan: Whenever a woman tries to buy a car, the salesman will ask what kind of car she wants to buy. Before she can answer, he invariably suggests a specific car. When she asks why, he says because it is a feminine car. Nigget offers the truth: feminine means a) small, b) a special model, c) from domestic producers, and d) second-hand. Weren’t you just saying the other day how you could use a few more Uzbek anectdotes about animals? Well you are in luck my friend, and Vseyusnyi Blog can help. My words, not direct translation: So some visitors of a zoopark are strolling about, when they hear on the loudspeaker that a big nasty bear has escaped. The announcer recommends that if they happen upon the bear, grab some feces and rub it in his nose, and then use that opportunity to escape. “Where do we get that much shit?” shouts one of the zoo-goers. “… from the bear.” Classic. And much more where that came from. A photo-shoot at a weddings fashion show in Uzbekistan is brought to us by Alfisha. On the same blog: Believe it or not, there is a Roman Catholic (Polish) Church that holds concerts featuring musicians playing music by contemporary Uzbek composers on the organ. The author describes the experience in detail, noting that in her opinion melancholy tunes are exceptionally moving. The next performance is on the 7th of May, and she recommends the experience (Links in Russian). Uzbek opposition group Sunshine Coalition’s website has been designed to look like a blog, complete with the facility to contribute one’s own comments. In one of its latest posts the group has sent its jailed leader, Sanjar Umarov, birthday greetings. The post expresses regret that Umarov will not be able to spend his 50th birthday, which falls on April 7, with his friends and family (Links in Russian). Olesya of neweurasia tells us about Tamerlane’s curse. Is it true that the Soviet Union got dragged into World War II because an archeologist opened the former ruler’s tomb?
While we still have to add mongolia.neweurasia.net to our navigation-bar, we’re proud to announce that Mongolia has now become part of neweurasia’s coverage. Thanks to Luke Distelhorst in Ulaanbaatar, posting has already commenced. Please check the blog regularly, watch our neweurasia blogscan on your right or add the blog’s RSS feed to your reader.
Tavtai morilno uu!