Kazakhstan Is Still Very Poor, in Places

This is a guest post from Registan.net One of the strangest things about studying Central Asia is grappling with the severe inequalities. The big cities in a country like Kazakhstan are bastions of wealth sometimes difficult to comprehend. For example, this is a photograph I took of the waterfront along the Ishim River in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, in July of 2003. Five years ago, apartments in those pastel towers were renting for $700 a month—in a country whose GDP per capita at the time was around $2,000. That year, when I was in a cab in Almaty—the country’s…

Turkmenistan in 2009 = Turkmenistan in 2000, 2001, 2002… etc.

Earlier this year, the Norske Helsingforskomite (NHC) released a video about life in Turkmenistan under the Berdymukhammedov regime, detailing the ways in which, despite his vows of sweeping changes, the country remains as totalitarian as under the previous government of Turkmenbashi. On assignment for the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, freelance journalist Simon Ostrovsky travelled to Turkmenistan to make this rare documentary on one of the world’s most inaccessible countries. Since the death of its eccentric first president 2 years ago, the resource-rich Central Asian republic has caught the attention of Western companies in the hydrocarbon sector. Yet its human rights record…

Turkmen video#5

   In connection with the topic of CXW post I want to recall another one Saparov – Akysh – is a famous singer and composer, who also stayed in Turkmenistan despite the fact he was officially unable to perform. Akysh Saparov who is very popular in the country is no longer seen on TV screens as, according to television officials, his songs promote a sort of nonconformist spirit and freethinking while the content of the songs is allegedly filled with thieves` jargon. Because of this, Saparov is called a Turkmen Vysotsky…

Turkmen Video #3

A bit of moody Turkmen hip-hop next. Actual Turkmen speakers are, of course, free to let us know what this song is actually about. And for those with Russian skills, something else along the same lines:

Turkmen Video #2

This is a jaunty little number that gives visual evidence that puts lie to a claim made in Paul Theroux’s article in the New Yorker, where he dubbed Ashgabat the “city without benches”. Indeed, the Turkmen capital has, if anything, a perverse surfeit of public seating. Malys & Toylyska – Igde UPDATE: It transpires, as revealed in the comments section of the youtube page that this was posted on, that the song is a cover version. The slick Uzbek original is here. And for real masochists, here is a stomach-turning cover version by a pair of midgets.

Turkmen Video #1

Picking up where Nathan Hamm at Registan left off, this site will be featuring erratic selections of Turkmen music videos on a weekly basis. YouTube has recently become a hive of activity for uploaders of Turkmen pop music, but we can only hope that this blog can add to that already rich selection. The first video is a compilation of concert footage of one of the country’s most popular band – ABM. Enjoy!