Tashkent bans “lavish” weddings

It is no surprise that in countries where demos do not have much say governments can and do “insistingly recommend” living lives in a certain way. The Tashkent mayor Rakhmonbek Usmonov thought so too and issued a decree regulating wedding ceremonies, RFE/RL’s Uzbek service reported. According to the decree, the wedding parties are to be concluded by 10PM. The reasons behind limiting the time are quite noble: noise pollution, regulating working hours in restaurants hosting wedding ceremonies, etc.

A year ago today… ah, crap.

What was happening in Kyrgyzstan about a year ago from now? neweurasia’s Marat Sartpaev takes a look back. “Well, today we’ve passed through our first-ever peaceful transfer of power at the presidential level,” he writes. “Yes, it’s just the same old elite I suppose, but hey, at least this time there weren’t snipers on the roof.”

Dec 19-23: New gov’t, blackouts and human rights

With the presidential elections “fever” over and the president inaugurated, it is now time in Kyrgyzstan to appoint a new government.  The incumbent president, Almazbek Atambayev, ascended to presidency from the post of the prime minister of Kyrgyzstan and triggered the government reshuffling. On Monday, 19 December 2011, then candidate Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov initiated decreasing the number of ministries. He argued doing so would save some 1bn soms (about 22m USD), and decrease the salary burden on budget by firing over 3,000 state employees. A wise move indeed; however, there is room for further “shrinking”. For instance, the ministry…

Speaker Keldibekov speaks in vain, doomed to step down

I have hard time understanding Speaker Akhmatbek Keldibekov’s desperate attempts to keep his position.  As someone involved in politics for quite some time now, he must realize that election of a new president inevitable entails reshuffling of politicians. Moreover, the president-elect Almazbek Atambayev has views that sometimes contradict those of Keldibekov’s. When the 2010 elections got several known politicians back (!) into the parliament, they had to negotiate and make concessions and compromises: Atambayev (SDPK) got premiership, Omurbek Babanov (Respublika) was given vice-premiership and Keldibekov (Ata-Jurt) received the position of the Speaker. The latter now has to go, simple as…

Nov 28-Dec 2: New political page

Bishkek Mayor Isa Omurkulov’s claimed he is going to ask the court to reconsider the acquittal of his son, on Monday, 28 November 2011. Mayor Omurkulov issued a statement indicating his son, who killed three young individuals driving under alcoholic influence, is a 30-year-old father of four but that “doesn’t free him from responsibility.” While this is a nice statement, one is left with the impression that this was nothing more than just a wise political move ahead of the reshuffling in higher echelons after Almazbek Atambayev is sworn in. Also because his son is already acquitted by court and…

Israel vs. Iran: to bomb or not to bomb?

Despite its small size and under 8-million population, Israel is challenging a country with 10 times bigger population and 70 times larger surface – Iran. Israel claims Iran is developing a nuclear weapon which Tehran will deploy against the Jewish state. Not surprisingly, (thank you, AIPAC) Israel’s claim is in perfect unison with that emanating in Washington D.C. – Iran is developing a nuclear arsenal.

Kyrgyz Sec Council bid unsuccessful; might spell future luck

Last week’s voting at the UN Security Council could not have possibly voted for Kyrgyzstan as a non-permanent member for several reasons. For one, the closeness of the political elite of Kyrgyzstan with the Russian leadership. Another reason: rather gruesome human rights records and unstable situation at home. Apparently, what Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva counted on was the fact that Kyrgyzstan was the first country in the Central Asian region to announce and implement the parliamentary form of governance. While there can be many speculations as to how exactly this form is successful, it is still a fact. Another “trump…

September 26-30: elections, gas, int’l ties

This week started with the single most important political event of the year – the launching of the presidential election campaigns. These elections will most probably be the top-rated event not only in Kyrgyzstan, but also in the whole Central Asian region, since it is going to be the very first time that a head of state voluntarily and conscientiously leaves post.

Kyrgyz-language instruction in Uzbek schools: necessity or haste?

It was quite a surprise to hear that some Uzbek-language schools introduced instruction in the Kyrgyz language. While switching to Kyrgyz shouldn’t be a big issue for children given the linguistic kinship between the two languages, it is unclear as to how schools are going to provide with teachers, books and other necessary supplies in the Kyrgyz language. The argument that teachers who were teaching their pupils in the Uzbek language can switch to Kyrgyz won’t fly. Because children will simply respond in the Uzbek language and will most probably think their teachers are traitors of the Uzbek minority and…

Kyrgyz-Chinese spy cooperation will harm, not help

The Kyrgyz authorities seem to be signaling the world, first and foremost the Kremlin, that they are not being treated as they would like. To show the (superior) partners they can take steps of their own – although towards the arms of another superpower, not independent decisions – a Kyrgyz KGB delegation paid a visit to China. Headed by the chief spy, the delegation met colleagues on the other side of the border. The visit ended with the ratification of routine agreements – jointly combatting terrorism, separatism, drug trafficking, etc. etc. On top of cooperation, the Chinese side will throw…

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