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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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Ashgabat: The City of World-Certified White-Marble
Written by , Sunday, 4 Aug, 2013 – 19:33 | No Comment

Recognizing the wonders of city spaces, and the cultural and artistic mediums showcased within the city, Guinness World Records recently anointed Turkmenistan’s capital and largest city Ashgabat with an honorary distinction.

Eurasianet.org‘s Turkmenistan-focused blog, ‘Sifting The Karakum,’ with references made to TDH news agency, tells on May 25th, 2013 —the same day Turkmen parliament honoured President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov with the title “Distinguished Architect of Turkmenistan“— Guinness World Records’ editor-in-chief Craig Glenday “…flew in to present the distinguished architect with a certificate recognizing Ashgabat as the city with the most white marble-clad buildings in the world…” Turkmenistan.Ru says the document, delivered by Glenday, “recorded the world’s highest concentration of buildings lined with white marble.”
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Kazak Singer Rocks Slavic World Stage
Written by , Tuesday, 30 Jul, 2013 – 9:33 | No Comment

The talents of a young Kazakh singer were recognized, and awarded with high esteem, at the International Festival of Arts ‘Slavianski Bazaar 2013.’

The event, which saw the attendance of many Eurovision stars, was held from July 11th – 15th in Vitebsk, Belarus. esctoday.com tells that 18 concerts were held in total on stage at Vitebsk’s Summer Amphitheater, and those who performed the concerts, came from countries far and wide: Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania and more.

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Turkmen Culture Celebrated In Turkic-Enriched Turkey
Written by , Sunday, 28 Jul, 2013 – 11:25 | No Comment

In early July 2013, the Turkish city of Eskişehir hosted the ‘Days of Turkmenistan Culture’ event.

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