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Darvaz: “The Gates of Hell”
Written by , Sunday, 30 Aug, 2009 – 17:39 | No Comment

Translation of mursya’s post (RUS).

Having first read about Darvaz here (in English), I researched further and discovered much fascinating information, which I’m excited to share with our readers.  Central Asia is full of mysteries and this is rightfully one of them!

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neweurasia gets high (airshow in Bishkek)
Written by , Tuesday, 25 Aug, 2009 – 23:58 | No Comment

Air-show in Bishkek. photo by Samat S@M Barataliev

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Paradise is only a few kilometers under Heaven: a travel log, part 1.
Written by , Tuesday, 18 Aug, 2009 – 15:39 | 5 Comments
Gharmchashma, a natural hydrogen sulfide spring, located 2800 meters above sea level. Photo by Orazdurdy.

Gharmchashma, a natural hydrogen sulfide spring, located 2800 meters above sea level. Photo by Orazdurdy.

Editor’s note: This the first post in a travel log by neweurasia’s Orazdurdy.  More to come in the future!

When thinking of Tajikistan I would usually imagine the bloody war of the 90s, poor population and large amounts of drugs going through the country on the way to Russia and then Europe. On Russian television Tajikistan is mentioned quite seldom, but when it shows up, the story is usually about unskilled laborers from Tajikistan working (often illegally) at construction sites or bazaars in Russian cities.

Indeed, Russia’s Channel One has an enormous effect on the mind, especially when it talks about disloyal political regimes in the former USSR, and especially if the viewer has no opportunity to go and see for himself what’s going on. For example, before I happened to visit Ukraine in June 2009, I believed a stereotype about Ukraine that it is unstable both politically and socially and that Ukrainians are complete Russophobes and don’t even dare speak Russian there. This isn’t true! I’ve seen much of the world but never been so welcomed anywhere so far. But I digress.

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Almaty in Signs and Graffiti
Written by , Thursday, 13 Aug, 2009 – 18:46 | 5 Comments

For the readers outside of Kazakhstan, here is a post of pictures from Almaty and the surrounding region.  All of them depict signage and graffiti and were taken between June and August of this year.  Of course, Almatyites would also be interested to see which of the following they recognize.  If you think you know where the pictures were taken, let me know in the comments.  Naturally, if you get it right, I won’t keep it a secret! Read the full story »

Revisiting Sary Moghul
Written by , Wednesday, 12 Aug, 2009 – 22:29 | One Comment

As somebody who unfortunately doesn’t visit Central Asia more than once per year, I have yet been immensely happy and thankful for having had the chance to visit one particular place three times in 2004, 2006 and 2008.  This place, which we have covered on neweurasia before (here and here), is Sary Moghul, a village in the Alay Valley, nestled between the Pamirs in the south (as well as the Tajik border) and parts of the Tien Shan in the north.

Marco Polo had been here on his travels along the Silk Road in the 13th century and noted in his diary, somewhat en passant, that this would probably have been the most hostile place along his route, with neither trees, birds nor insects.  Strange as it may appear, but today’s human settlement in this area owes much to the relative fertility of the land.  At approximately 3,000m altitude, one can grow potatoes and grass used to feed the cattle in the winter. Read the full story »

Beauty outlawed
Written by , Monday, 10 Aug, 2009 – 14:54 | One Comment

Passing by flowers outlets, standing by many kiosks on flowers bazaar or just outdoors where you can see a lot of grandmas standing with their buckets along the fence and selling simple, ‘home-grown’, garden flowers, it became possible to sink in diversity and got lost in flower types even in Almaty.

Here you can see roses as roses, and tulips as tulips, but with unchangeable prefix countable in some hundreds of KZT per item.

Here we don’t have flowers «for everyday» and «to make flat look more comfortable» but we have flowers for anniversaries and big holidays, for first dates or just to observe the decencies.

This may be a reason why you do not pay attention to the fact that absolutely without any ceremony you can find among flowers brought from overseas those that are in the Red Book of Kazakhstan. Namely there are a Greig tulip аnd a Kaufman tulip, that can be found on the territory of Aksu-Jabagly resevre and inside its buffer zone. They grow up exactly in our region, but when spring comes people pluck them out armful, and this was even available on the picture.

Visiting this spring the world-known royal park of flowers in the Netherlands called Keukenhof located close to the Schiphol airport in the small city of Lisse, I accidentally saw pictures of Central Asian tulips.

It is obvious that during 2 months a year, that the park is open to the public, they need to show more than 4,5mln of planted tulips of more than 100 different types, but also gather the most interesting thematic expositions from all over the world.

For instance, this dedicated to the tulips from Central Asia where you can see not only alive flowers covering beautiful mountainside, but also cruelly cut off flowers. Ones that are in the Red Book of Kazakhstan.

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All photos are available in our photo-album.

Where’s the march? Atambaev seems to back down
Written by , Friday, 31 Jul, 2009 – 0:16 | No Comment

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Yesterday, July 29 2009, Almazbek Atambaev, who lost presidential elections and called elections illegal, and his supporters attempted to organize open-ended demonstrations and march towards the center of the city. However, they were stopped on their way by law enforcement bodies, who effectively dispersed the crowd and took into custody dozens of people. Leaders of the United Peoples Movement, where Atambaev is a member, later stated they would march to Balykchy city of Issik Kul oblast on July 30 2009, where many of their supporters are being held in custody.

When I arrived the Social Democratic Party’s headquarters at 9:45 am today, there were about 30-40 people standing  in front of the building waiting the march to begin. Almost half of the small crowd were journalists from local and international media. By 10:15 the crowd enlarged a bit. People waiting for opposition members to come out and tell about the furthers steps.

Suddenly, instead of opposition members, Sumar Nasiza, Deputy Prosecutor General, and a high ranking official from the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) appeared in front of SDPK’s HQ. The state officials had a small meeting in public with Bakyt Beshimov, chairman the only opposition party represented in the parliament the Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan. During the meeting, the authorities officially warned opposition members that any marches held in Bishkek and outskirts of the city would be stopped by the law enforcement bodies “by legal measures.” They explained that it was due to the security measures on the eve of CSTO‘s summit in Cholpon Ata, Kyrgyzstan. Read the full story »

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Support Iran and Be Arrested!
Written by , Saturday, 25 Jul, 2009 – 12:27 | No Comment

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Today the Kyrgyz human rights activists have held the action to support Iran. The action was in the Gorky park, the only place where citizen are allowed to hold peaceful meetings. Human rights activists prepared posters on the Kyrgyz, English and Russian languages, green ribbons and balloons. They read the statement about their support of Iran and decided to walk to the Iranian embassy to tie green ribbons on the fence and give the rally statement to the Iranian ambassador. But during their walking police stopped them and asked to remove the posters. Later, 8 young human activists were arrested and sent to the court.  According to the information of the Human rights Activists Union,  the representative of the European Commission Stanislav Toshkov were roughly removed from the police district.  Now the court is going to try the administrative cases against the arrested activists.

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Swine Flu Confirmed in Astana (round-up of news)
Written by , Friday, 24 Jul, 2009 – 16:24 | 5 Comments
A park ride attendant in Astana wears a face mask.  Photo by Chris Merriman.

A park ride attendant in Astana wears a face mask. Photo by Chris Merriman.

Bus driver in Astana with face mask pulled down around his chin.  Photo by Chris Merriman.

Bus driver in Astana with face mask pulled down around his chin. Photo by Chris Merriman.

Reuters India reports that there are now six cases of Swine Flu in Astana (ENG):

Kazakhstan on Thursday reported its first H1N1 flu cases, saying three students had been diagnosed with the virus after returning from the British capital.

“Three people have been confirmed to have it (H1N1),” Vitaly Sheyanov, a senior healthcare official, told Reuters.

Natalya Buyenko, an advisor to the Central Asian state’s healthcare minister, said the students felt unwell after returning from London where they studied.

According to the news agency Trend Capital, all the diagnoses are of children the ages of 12-15 years who were in the United Kingdom during the period June 18 – July 19 for acadmic study (ENG); the news agency Kazakhstan Today concurs (ENG).

Chris Merriman, an expat who is living in Astana with his family, wrote the following account on his personal blog (ENG):

[...] I noticed that bus drivers and conductors were wearing face masks. One driver was indeed wearing the mask, just not actually using it – the mask was done up behind the head, but hanging below his chin!

I’ll leave the discussion on whether face masks are actually much use except when worn by people who may have already been infected, or in societies where (some) people spit in the street and regularly cough and sneeze without covering their mouth, for another day.

[...] So, am I worried, about to go and buy a dozen boxes of face masks?  [Given] that Britain currently has approximately 100,000 new cases declared each week, and that the current variant of Swine Flu hasn’t yet mutated to be highly deadly and/or drug resistant, I’m not about to seal all the windows and doors and demand temperature readings from anyone we come into contact with.

[...] OK, just been for a walk in Astana park. Out of a sample size of approximately 200 people, five were found to be wearing masks. That is if you include another bus driver who had it on, but slung under his chin.

More bulletins can be found via Google News (ENG).

Presidential Elections in Kyrgyzstan
Written by , Thursday, 23 Jul, 2009 – 13:01 | 2 Comments

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