Media updates across Central Asia

A lot has been happening in media and telecommunications – Internet, libel, translation, TV, social networks, mass media, blogging, songs and cell phones – in Central Asia these past few months, for the good and for the bad. Let’s take a look at two stories from each country, regarding media advancements and setbacks that have taken-shape in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan so far in 2012. Press Freedom in CENTRAL ASIA The 2012 Freedom of the Press Report, published by human rights group Freedom House, was released in May. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) informs on the role Eurasia/Central Asia…

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,…

Tajik singer bellows tunes of adoration for Russia’s Putin

A Tajik singer has summed up his support for Russia’s pro-Putin political culture via music. Tolinjon Kurbanhanov has mixed music, politics and religion in a melodious melting pot, void of separation and flourishing with his own expression. The singer’s music is openly, politically expressive and far from traditionally, culturally Tajik. Kurbanhanov’s two videos, that though are a few months old – are still, to this day, being viewed by thousands. Kurbanhanov has made a name for himself by praising Russian political figurehead Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin through song. Singer Kurbanhanov’s first song/video about Putin was released on the eve of the presidential…

Grant and training opportunity for documentary photographers

The Open Society Documentary Photography Project (http://www.soros.org/initiatives/photography) and Arts and Culture Program (http://www.soros.org/initiatives/arts) announce a grant and training opportunity for documentary photographers from Central Asia, the South Caucasus, Afghanistan, Mongolia, and Pakistan. The grant is being offered to: * visually document issues of importance in the region; and * provide training and support to photographers from the region. Approximately 10 cash stipends in the amount of $3,500 each will be awarded to photographers to produce a photo essay on a current human rights or social issue in the region. Grantees will participate in two master-level workshops on visual storytelling through…

Borat’s double-edged sword: Flourishing tourism versus cultural representation

They say that negative attention is better than no attention at all. This tagline has been well linked to the comedic and controversial movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Borat), which enlightens the audience on the culture of Kazakhstan (among other things), for a long time. But, in terms of tourism in 2012, the tables are beginning to turn – some negative attention is turning positive, in terms of plane tickets and passports. Borat is the infamous movie/ mocumentary/ satire/ comedy wherein Sacha Baron Cohen plays the character of Borat (BORДT) Sagdiyev, a “sexist,…

Tchaikovsky in Turkmenistan, 21st Century-style

Although we all know that Central Asian societies were for generations succoured on Soviet media that was pedagogical and ideological, we often forget what this fully means. Soviet media was often in outright denial, e.g., nary breathing a word about the Chernobyl disaster. It’s my understanding that if you heard a bit too much classical music on the radio meant, there was a crisis: apparently Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” signalled the death of a leader, and was even played on 19 August, 1991, rather prophetically. Content may change, as well as values, but form persists. In Turkmenistan today, gone is the…

Tashkent’s Ilkhom Theatre awarded for culture

Uzbekistan’s unique accomplishments in theatre and art have been respectfully recognized. On April 5th, the country’s Ilkhom Theatre (“Inspiration” in Uzbek) was prized with the 2011 Prince Claus Award, from the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development, for it’s cultural achievements. The Theatre (Ильхом Театр Марка Вайля) is Uzbekistan’s only independent theatre, was the first in the USSR, and today also functions as a school of dramatic art. The award was presented to the Uzbek Ilkhom Theatre, by Dutch Ambassador to Russia, HE Mr Ronald Keller. In terms of free expression and artistic development, the 2011 Prince Claus Fund was awarded…

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