Q&A with Man Nistam: What really happened in Gorno-Badakhshan?

This was originally posted by NewEurasia.net partner, Kanal PIK. In late July, the Tajik military sent troops to the semi-autonomous province of Gorno-Badakhshan, claiming it was seeking the arrest of members of a criminal gang responsible for the assassination of Major-General Abdullo Nazarov, the head of the Tajik State National Security Committee (GKNB) in the province. Dozens were killed in the operation, with estimates of casualties as high as 200. In the following weeks, government forces occupied the region. One of the main leaders of the forces resisting Dushanbe, Tolib Ayombekov, surrendered on Aug. 12. Ten days later, after voluntarily disarming his militia,…

Is Central Asia kicking out the Peace Corps?

This was originally posted by NewEurasia.net partner Kanal PIK. The U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan announced Aug. 31 that it was closing the Peace Corps program in the country and the remaining 18 volunteers would be making their way out of the country this month. The move was hardly a surprise given that volunteers regularly faced difficulties in obtaining visas and it was well-known that the closed country was uncomfortable with the presence of the well-meaning outsiders. Furthermore, the program had already left Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Kyrgyzstan is now the only Central Asian country with an ongoing program.

Why Eurovision in Azerbaijan is Ultimately a Good Thing

This is a partner post from the Editor’s Notes blog at Kanal PIK TV, click here for more from Kanal PIK By Nicholas Alan Clayton Dictatorships do not like the spotlight. For all the state media bombast and extravagant events that autocratic regimes love to feed their own people, the last thing they are interested in is having hundreds of prying foreign eyes digging into the realities that their propaganda glosses over. Even if only a small portion of their population sees foreign news reports, despots would prefer the international press ignore their countries altogether. They keep visa restrictions high,…

Russian and Tajik Spat: Nothing But Politics

This article was originally published at NewEurasia partner, Kanal PIK A lengthy row between Russia and Tajikistan over the imprisonment of a Russian pilot, Vladimir Sadovnichy, has finally come to an end with the pilot’s release on Nov 24. Yet, and in spite of various officials claims that there was nothing political about the whole episode, there are many reasons to believe that political considerations, or geopolitical considerations to be more precise, were behind the Russian government’s so called “asymmetric response”; that is, mass deportation of Tajik nationals on the bases of legal and public safety concerns. Tajikistan is a…

China, India, Iran and Pakistan Crowd Russia in Today’s Version of Central Asia’s Great Game

Originally published by NewEurasia.net partner, Kanal PIK  by Jim Brooke When I was in Dushanbe, India’s defense minister just happened to be in the neighborhood, and popped in for a visit. After the traditional bread and honey welcome ceremony at the airport, he met behind closed doors with Tajikistan’s defense minister and discussed future uses of Ayni. This former Soviet airbase was re-commissioned last month near Tajikistan’s capital. India had quietly renovated the base and its 3-kilometer landing strip to the tune of $70 million. Two weeks later, Pakistan rose to the challenge, announcing relief for “landlocked Tajikistan.” A $25…

Russian Killings of Tajik Migrant Workers — Now at a Level with American Lynchings in the 1930s?

This post, originally by Jim Brooke, is from NewEurasia.net partner Kanal PIK TV English The Tajik Air jet was still taxiing to a stop at Dushanbe’s airport, but the men on board were already in the aisles, smiles on their faces, happy to be home. Home alive that is. I don’t know if below my feet on the plane was any “Cargo 200” – Soviet slang for bodies sent home in zinc lined coffins. A few days before I arrived in Dushbanbe, Tajikistan’s Migration Service announced that during the first eight months of 2011, the bodies of 603 Tajik gastarbeiters…

Azerbaijan: A New Front in Iran-Israel Rivalry

Editor’s note: Originally posted by Nima Khorrami Assl at NewEurasia partner site, Kanal PIK. Notwithstanding its religious, cultural, and historical links with Iran, the Republic of Azerbaijan has had a difficult relation with its southern neighbour since its independence in 1991. Antagonised by Tehran’s support for Armenia during the 1992-1994 war and suspicious of Iran’s meddling in its internal affairs, Baku has sought to counter the ‘Iranian threat’ by forging closer ties to Israel. This, in turn, has eroded whatever room that used to exist for improvement of ties between the two states, and therefore it is no exaggeration to claim…

Semi-democracy in Turkmenistan is better than nothing

Excerpts from Nima Khorrami’s blog on neweurasia’s partner-site Kanal PIK. We invite our readers to check out the full post by clicking here. Whether or not the upcoming election [in Turkmenistan] will turn out to be relatively free and fair is hard to tell. Nevertheless, state’s call for elections ought to be welcomed with a sense of optimism given Turkmenistan’s urgent need for more innovative and critical thinking and thus reduced ideological restraint if it is to deal with its myriad social, economic, and political problems successfully. [...] To be sure, current shortcomings have many causes and that it would…