Rare footage of Bishkek in the Nineteen Eighties

The other day I met with Maria Antonova, the director of the American University of Central Asia’s First Year Seminar. A child of Perestroika, she emigrated to the United States for many years before returning here for her present gig. When she left Bishkek, the city was, in her words, “a crucible of a tiny intelligentsia in the mountains”. As she recalled, this demographic core was largely derived from intellectuals and professionals sent from St. Petersburg during the Soviet period. I, myself, have met many of them and their grandchildren. The ones I’ve met are largely pensioners today, working bit…

Bishkek, men seni syiemin!

A special guest post by Aigul Pyatayeva, a Kazakh philosophy student at the International University of Kyrgyzstan. This week Bishkek is commemorating Revolutions… I was lucky to get a glimpse of hope by participating in a Student Conference on 7th April. And today being warned not to cross locations of possible riots, I skipped my lessons and walked the streets of Bishkek I never walked before… and came across a graffiti wall – some images illustrate city’s craziness, dynamics and aspirations. But nevertheless, Bishkek, men seni syiemin!

The women left behind in Armenia

Editor’s Note: Oxfam’s Armine Gevorgyan blogs from inside Armenia, where many young men are migrating abroad in search of employment and new opportunities, leaving their wives and daughters behind. Almost a third of homes in Armenia are now entirely led by women. Here in the rural village of Khor Virap in Southern Armenia, women sit around gossiping about the man who left for Russia, found a mistress and left his wife. Sveta, a mother of one, says, “I wonder what happened to that poor woman and her four children.” This is a fear shared by many women left behind but…

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