Kazakh free press is being censored into oblivion, but was it ever really free to begin with?

So, last week a court in Kazakhstan banned Stan.tv from operating on the charge of extremism — and in a few weeks, Astana shall ascend to the UN Human Rights Council. There’s a full-on censorhip tsunami sweeping the country, taking out news agencies, websites, broadcasters, political parties and even the US Peace Corps, and one way or another, it seems the epicentre of the earthquake is in the 2011 Zhanoazen riots. Of course, I don’t want to diminish the huge concern the world should have about this situation, but at the same time, I don’t want us captured by illusion…

Is Central Asia a mirror of Europe?

neweurasia’s Averroes sees a problem with the way we here at neweurasia talk about Central Asian nationalism: we’re too busy pretending it’s not real when in fact it is — and that it’s dangerous for the region.The real question is “whether Central Asian nationalism should happen,” he writes. “It’s a moral question, not a normative one.” What do you, our readers, think?

Could there have been Kazakh tanks in Libya?

As the crisis in Libya continues, neweurasia’s resident speculator Averroes wants to know more about the two sides’ weaponry, and specifically whether there’s a Central Asian connection, however faint. There’s certainly a generally Soviet/ex-Soviet connection, but also a tiny hint of potential, probably untapped, for military trade between Kazakh-Libya. “I’m not saying there’s a direct link here,” he writes, “but it’s an interesting question, don’t you think?”

Is Berdi reading neweurasia?

I’ve noticed some critical comments appearing on neweurasia’s Turkmenistan posts lately. Then there’s this little tidbit from RFE/RL: Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has called on the National Security Ministry to fight against those who “disseminate slanderous information about Turkmenistan’s democratic, law-based secular state” … In an address pegged to the19th anniversary of the establishment of the ministry on September 30, Berdymukhammedov also called for the secret police to follow the example of their “heroic forebearers,” the Soviet-era KGB. The National Security Ministry has recently moved to silence independent journalists, while state-controlled Internet providers have blocked the websites of many independent…

Zoroastrianism in Tajikistan

Re: Alpharabius’ comment to my boss Schwartz’s chapter on religion for Cyber-Chaikhana, here’s a rather patriotic YouTube video with this interesting remark by the user about Zoroastrianism in Tajikistan: A Tajik can be an adherent of any religion such as Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, or he can be an Atheist or Agnostic. But regardless of his religious beliefs, his cultural Identity is Zoroastrian. Zoroastrianism is embedded in his culture and identity for thousands of years and good thought, good words and good deed is the pride of every Tajik.

CSTO + UN = mixed news for KG sovereignty

So, on the one side, we’ve got the CSTO saying they’ve got “something” in mind for the crisis in Southern Kyrgyzstan, and on the other side we’ve got the UN saying they need an aid corridor.  In the middle is the interim government in Bishkek, which shocked the world by admitting it simply doesn’t have the military and political muscle to end the fighting.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that what the CSTO is considering and what Bishkek and the UN need is a military intervention, possibly from Uzbekistan, possibly from throughout the region, but undoubtedly headed…

Why isn’t Russia invading?

Perhaps the biggest puzzle piece missing is Russia: why didn’t Moscow leap all over Bishkek’s invitation to basically invade Osh?  My guess is because Medvedev et al actually perceive the proposed constitutional reform by Otunbayeva et al as sincerely parliamentarian and democratic, so they’re using the riots as an opportunity to sit back and let the whole process crash down. (Of course, you might ask: why didn’t Bishkek just ask for help from Washington?  Well, practically-speaking, Russia’s just closer, and besides, it was the halal thing to do.  Moscow’s already displeased with everything going down in Kyrgyzstan.) Another idea: Perhaps…

Of crescent moons and J-curves

Can J-curve theory explain the rise of Islamic revivalism in Central Asia? neweurasia’s resident ideologue, Averroes, thinks so. He traces the origins of Islam’s return to the “abortion of Jadidism” in the early Twentieth Century. “Islamic revival in Central Asia isn’t just because of the ideological vacuum left behind in Marxism’s fall,” he writes. “Instead, it’s one of history’s greatest delayed reactions.”

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