Politics and Society
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.”
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 Melons. Radio 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.”
Berdimuhamedov has withdrawn from the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan’s leadership position and membership, saying that it is a necessary step to fulfill the necessary preconditions for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…
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.”
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?
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.”
Read the full story »
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.
In early July 2013, the Turkish city of Eskişehir hosted the ‘Days of Turkmenistan Culture’ event.
Japanese photography critic Kotaro Iizawa’s curated global traveling photo exhibition made its way to Central Asia in July 2013.
From July 3rd – 21st, in Tajikistan’s capital city Dushanbe, the Embassy of Japan, together with the National Library of Tajikistan and Japan Foundation, hosted the photo exhibition “Tohoku — Through the Eyes of Japanese Photographers.”
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I guess each country has its own rules and habits of fighting corruption. Here is the Turkmen style, keeping in mind that our country has some of the most widespread corruption in the world.
In a practice dating back to Niyazov’s day, ministers are regularly sacked. But the current regime seems to like sacking ministers and workers despite successes. The heads of transporation infrastructure were dismissed for “failing to fulfill their duties” even though the first phase of a new rail has been started. Meanwhile, the grain return for 2013 is being praised for meeting targets — and voila, some grain workers have been sacked, likewise for dereliction of duty. Weirdly, these incidents have been presented as anti-corruption efforts.
Here’s what some of my fellow citizens have been observing. Basically, as bribery and patronage grows deeper in our country, it also grows larger, with even distant relatives of state officials asserting their “right” to special treatment, privileges, and a piece of the money pie. Call it “VIP syndrome”: for example, a relative of the head of the state agency for “order on the roads” (policing roads) is notorious for not stopping at red lights. So, it starts to become incumbent upon the central government to dismiss state officials in a public show of dishonor, effectivly denuding an entire clan or network of its VIP status in front of the public.
Still, there is one VIP whose family and friends will always be above such embarassment…