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.”

Chrono-tm.org fires back

Farid Tukhbatullin, head of the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights (TIHR), of which the Chronicles of Turkmenistan (chrono-tm.org is the press service, has sent the following statement to journalists: On 18 July in the morning the website of the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights “Chronicles of Turkmenistan” was hacked. The website has been operating for about six years. Throughout these years it has posted thousands of articles, news casts and photos from Turkmenistan — the country where it is extremely difficult to obtain unbiased information. During the days when the arms depot explosions occurred near Ashgabat, our website remained the…

“Blogs can be blocked in two clicks”: return to samizdat in Turkmenistan

neweurasia continues to explore the aftermath of the Abadan explosion and the ways Turkmen are resisting the official line. The “Alternative Turkmenistan News” is an e-mail newsletter claiming 1300 recipients among a wide cross-section of professional Turkmen society. It’s a perhaps surprising example of the continuing utility of the e-mail in our new era of rapid social media. neweurasia’s Schwartz reports. “The impression one gets is actually of a very active and fertile secret world of electronic samizdat-like communications,” he writes. “Call it ‘e-zidat” or ‘Turkmenizdat’.”

Who am I to speak for Turkmenistan?

Is neweurasia’s Schwartz, much less neweurasia itself, accurately representing Turkmenistan? If so, who gave them the right? Schwartz responds to criticisms from an anonymous Turkmen reader, exploring the dynamics of Turkmenistan’s “marginal” geopolitical status, the dynamics of social media, and even religious faith. “I won’t mince words,” he writes. “My credibility is indeed subject to real debate.”

neweurasia on al-Jazeera’s The Stream

We here at neweurasia have been fortunate enough to get a healthy amount of coverage from much bigger news agencies around the world, but few have been such enjoyable experiences as our appearances on al-Jazeera’s new social-media driven talk show, The Stream. The show’s headed up by Derrick “DNA” Ashong, a performer, ethno-musicologist and online personality, but it has a rotating series of couch guests who work hard to jam a mere half-hour with smart conversations on a number of social/new media-related issues in depth. So far, we’ve appeared twice on the show, and we invite our readers to check…

Was WordPress banned in Kazakhstan because of just two blogs?

Information about the WordPress ban in Kazakhstan is slowly trickling out. On 15 July, it was revealed that the ban is ostensibly due to two WordPress blogs that fell afoul of Kazakh censors, but one of the blogs appears not to have existed and the other was taken down from WordPress for violating the latter’s terms of service. neweurasia’s Schwartz reports.

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