What are these Americans doing in my village?

About two weeks ago neweurasia‘s Annasoltan wrote her first-ever post for our old friends and partners, Global Voices Online (GVO): “Turkmenistan: Global Village or Village Behind the Globe?” I’m writing about it now to make sure that it doesn’t just fade into the background. Annasoltan has become well-known for using digital culture and digital tools to explore Turkmen (and to some extent Turkish) social, cultural and political issues. True to form, her GVO post was prompted by an interesting discussion on social forum Ertir.com about American travelers and Peace Corps volunteers in Turkmen villages. She offers up a bevy of…

Bishkek bustles during independence celebration

I must say, the weather’s been lovely and the city’s been teeming all day with people in costumes, on roller blades, and just in general having a good time. I’m glad that I’m here to see Bishkek in such a good mood, especially after so much unhappiness as of late. Dina Tokbaeva from IWPR and I spent the morning at Ala-Too Square watching the parade, which included everything from T-72s to Korean drummers. The photos below were taken by us (for credits, check out the file names). Then we did the most “natural” thing: sat down at Cafe Academia over…

Chingiz Aitmatov is rather dapper in bronze

The new statue of Chingiz Aitmatov is up in Bishkek’s center. I must say, he’s rather dapper in bronze, although with all due respect to Mr. Aitmatov, he appears unrealistically flat-tummied and muscular. No surprise, I suppose, as Soviet aesthetic principles remain very much in place in Kyrgyzstan…

Manas in pieces; I’m already missing Ala-Too

The new Manas statue is entering the final stages of assembling. I snuck into the construction site around the pedestal to snag these photos. To be frank, I feel that it’s a travesty what they’ve done to Ala-Too. She had become a world-famous symbol and represented the best of Kyrgyzstan. That’s not meant to disrespect Manas, but his symbolism, indeed his message just seems more divisive or antiquated than the grand old lady he’s replacing.

Is Tajikistan’s “cultural revolution” an attack on power rivals?

I’ve been thinking over Tajikistan’s recent prohibition on minors from going to mosques, churches and synagogues, reported last week by neweurasia‘s Avicenna, within the larger context of the country’s on-going “cultural revolution”. Some of the revolution’s features are rather notorious, from Tajikifying surnames by dropping the Russian “-ov” suffix to banning witchcraft to policing ostentatious displays of wealth at wedding parties. Many Western and Western-influenced observers have derided these things as silly. This time around, they’re sure to fix on the obvious violation of a universal human right to freedom of conscious. And although they are right to do so,…

WordPress has returned to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

According to our teams in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, the ban on WordPress appears to have been lifted after over a month. neweurasia’s Schwartz reports and coments. “By lifting this ban, the Kazakh authorities are therefore doing the right thing twice-over,” he writes. “It is my hope that this is setting a positive precedent, although of course time will tell.”

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