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Sugar Deficit: Back in U.S.S.R.
Written by , Saturday, 28 Jun, 2014 – 1:49 | One Comment

Uzbekistan is facing another deficit issue: sugar. If a week ago it was available for a regular price, approximately 2,500-3,000 Uzbekl sums, nowadays the price has risen to 3,200 in stores and 5,000 at bazaars.

Why to pay more? When you buy it at a store, you should wait in a queue for at least 30-40 minutes, and — surprise — you won’t get more than two (!) kilograms per person. Plus, you have to buy it outside of a market itself, on a specially-arranged territory. Moreover, a police guy controls everything to make sure people don’t fight or kill each other over sugar. Craziness? Sad but true!

But if you got to a bazaar, you can buy as many kilos as you want for a high price.

Are we back in Soviet times? Read the full story »

Floods in Uzbekistan: Impotent Government, Speechless Citizens
Written by , Friday, 20 Jun, 2014 – 13:23 | No Comment

After the Tashkent flood, which became sort of a catastrophy for both locals and Uzbek capital’s authorities, almost the same situation happened in the cities of the Fergana Valley of the country, Andijan, Fergana and Namangan on June 17.

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School Parliaments in Kyrgyzstan
Written by , Saturday, 26 Apr, 2014 – 11:09 | 3 Comments

As Kyrgyzstan being mountainous country, most of the villages in remote regions have a poor conditions in schools. In order to support and sustain children’s participation in local school’s activities, Project of Strengthening School Parliaments to improve Children’s Participation in Local, Regional and National Decision-Making was launched in 2011 ans lasted for three years. The project was founded by the European Union’s thematic programme “Investing in People” and Aga Khan Foundation.

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How foraging for fruit is changing lives in Georgia
Written by , Saturday, 8 Mar, 2014 – 9:17 | No Comment

Georgia is almost entirely dependent on agricultural imports and reliant on an inefficient soviet farming system. But with Oxfam’s support things are starting to change.  To mark international women’s day, Caroline Berger, Oxfam’s media officer, travelled to Georgia to find out how foraging for fruit is changing the lives of women and opening up new trade opportunities for the country.

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Journalists and others arrested at Euromaidan protest in Tashkent – UPDATE
Written by , Thursday, 30 Jan, 2014 – 10:45 | 4 Comments

28 January photograph from Alex Ulko's Facebook account of a pro-EuroMaidan protest by Ulko and others who were arrested.

What happens when you mix Kiev politics with Tashkent security? Disaster.

In Tashkent last night (29 January), police detained (or arrested, it’s not really clear) Timur Karpov, a journalist with Lenta.ru; his mother Umida Akhmedova, a well-known social photographer; Alex Ulko, one of our best culture bloggers who also happens to be the son of Gregory Ulko; Ashot Danielyan, a musician; Ilgar Gasymov, who according to his Facebook account is a Ukrainian living in Uzbekistan; and Gul’sum Osmanova.

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A Social Media Gallery of Central Asia’s ‘New York’
Written by , Wednesday, 28 Aug, 2013 – 21:06 | No Comment

This week, Beyond Moscow is celebrating Kyrgyzstan!

Found on The Moscow Times Facebook page, posted on August 27th, 2013, is the public album “Almaty: Big Apple of Central Asia.” The digital folder hosts a series of photographs that celebrate Kyrgyzstan—its people, city and culture—from a woman feeding birds near Zenkov Cathedral to a vibrat market where colorful dried fruits and nuts are displayed. Via Facbeook, the album is described as:

“Almaty sweeps its foreign visitors into a non-stop whirlwind of surprises. The city’s name literally means “apple town,” and it lives up to this Big Apple status to the fullest.”

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‘Tis The Month of Turkmen Melons
Written by , Thursday, 22 Aug, 2013 – 13:41 | No Comment

Food means many things to many cultures, and many-a-time, foods themselves are seen as cultural symbols. From pasta to pirogues—pilaf to pad thai, national foods and cultural dishes nourish neighbors, invite friends, educate travelers, sooth souls, distinguish one traditional group from another and so much more.

On a grand and far-reaching scale, specific foods even have their own exclusive days, from National Cheesecake Day (July 30th) to National Zucchini Day (August 8th). Particular to Central Asia, in regards to national food days, Turkmenistan claims the famous day for MelonsRadio Free Europe/Radio Liberty educates:

“Since 1994, the second Sunday of August has been an official holiday recognizing the importance of melons in Turkmenistan’s culture and history.”

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Turkmenistan’s god-president set to transcend politics altogether?
Written by , Sunday, 18 Aug, 2013 – 22:15 | 2 Comments

Berdi at the Democratic Party congress.

Berdimuhamedov has withdrawn from the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan’s leadership position and membership, saying that it is a necessary step to fulfill the necessary preconditions for an effective mutli-party system. His stated reasoning is that merging the party chairmanship with the presidency is not conducive to creating an equal and level playing field for other political parties, and moreover, that as president he intends to leave party politics altogether. He also suggested that other cabinet ministers should follow his example.

So, is this more political cosmetics, or substantive? The former Soviet union is filled with transcendental “super-presidents” (want to read a great book on the subject? read Postcommunist Presidents, published in 1997 and still basically valid). Berdimuhammedov’s decision could very well mark the end of communist-style totalitarianism, which basically followed an equation of People=President=Party, for post-communist-style totalitarianism, in which dominant parties are replaced by either “personalist” parties or god-presidents.

Will Berdimuhammedov’s eventual role be to supervise all parties? And as to elections, will he run as a canditate without a party? Or does he aim to become ultimately a king-like leader who does not need to elected? You know, that last idea is really worrying, as there are signs that he has been investing a lot of effort into his grandson

Music In Uzbekistan: If Not About The Motherland, Tune-It-Out?!
Written by , Friday, 16 Aug, 2013 – 19:50 | No Comment

Aside from Uzbekistan’s much respected and official national anthem, first and foremost, how many songs of national esteem does President Islam Karimov desire? Plenty, apparently—at last enough ‘culturally acceptable’ ones to fill radio stations, music stores, concert halls and recording studios nation wide.

Translating the website of Uzbekistan’s Culture and Sports Ministry, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) informs that ““meaningless” songs that fail to “praise the motherland”” are now being banned in Uzbekistan. Thus, RFE/RL tells that those whose music and musical careers have been challenged, due to the revoking of their performance licenses, include singers Dilfuza Rahimova, Otabek Mutalhojaevand Dilshod Rakhmonov and groups Mango and Ummon, as, according to the Culture and Sports Ministry:

“Their songs do not conform to our nation’s cultural traditions, they contradict our moral heritage and mentality. We should not forget about our duty to praise our motherland, our people, and their happiness.”

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What did Hitler want from Central Asia?
Written by , Monday, 12 Aug, 2013 – 19:49 | 4 Comments

The World War II missed the republics of Central Asia with its battles, but affected the economical and human resources. On the wave of demolition of common Soviet past, you can hear here and there more and more opinions stating “that was not our war”. What were Hitler’s true plans in Central Asia?

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