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…

Turkmenistan’s mystical election: watch the video yourself

With the help of a fellow Turkmen citizen-journalist, neweurasia’s Annasoltan has obtained and translated official media coverage of Turkmenistan’s recent presidential election, and needless to say, there’s some weird stuff in there, including chants to the “democratic process” and proclaiming the presence of “international monitors”.

The play’s the thing in Turkmenistan

“The play ‘s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.” — Hamlet, Act II, Scene II. Even fake elections can give strongman dictators a headache when ordinary people actually expect them to mean something. It’s widely expected that Turkmenistan’s elections would be just a pro forma confirmation for another five years of Berdimuhammedov, and the likelihood that he may be declared “president for life” in the near future is high. Yet, holding even moderately contested elections would give Berdimuhamedov some clear benefits, appearing “democratic” and demonstrating that he is in fact “the best for the job”. As…

Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are Central Asian “Leaders” in Global Corruption

Corruption in Post-Soviet Central Asia is something very familiar to people living in the region. Without bribing, one is destined to see their case be delayed for a long time, very often beyond time limits defined by laws. Be it application for a new passport, or registration at a new place of living, or even finding a day care for your kid — bribing is the easiest way to get it all done faster and without a hassle. Transparency International (TI) has released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index 2011 (CPI) that ranks countries/territories based on how corrupt their public sector…

Censorship and Control of the Internet and Other New Media: Briefing Paper by Human Rights Groups

Central Asia: Censorship and Control of the Internet and Other New Media briefing paper has been released by International Partnership for Human Rights, the Netherlands Helsinki Committee, Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights and the Initiative Group of Independent Human Rights Defenders of Uzbekistan. The document explores problems of censorship and control of the internet and other new media in Central Asia. It focuses on the situation in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, where the authorities closely monitor and restrict the use of the internet and other communications technologies, filter and block…

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