Umarov Sentanced

Another Sunshine Uzbekistan opposition leader was sentenced today – this time its leader, Sanjar Umarov, for alleged economic crimes. His sentence is for 14 years, but has been reduced to just over 10 on an amnesty agreement. Another member of Sunshine Uzbekistan, Nodira Hidoyatova, was sentenced only several days ago. Umarov founded the opposition party Sunshine Uzbekistan in March 2005, inspired by Ukraine’s revolution, on the principles of capitalism, democracy, and business reform. As a businessman himself who had started a profitable cellular company in Uzbekistan, Umarov believed himself better qualified to determine economic policy in the country, and even…

Dry Land

According to a Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights press statement, residents in Turkmenbashi have been without water for the last two months. The causes for this problem is reportedly the breakdown of the water purifying plant in Balkanabat, the capital of the Balkan velyat, which is the source of drinking water for residents on the Caspian coast. As residents have also related, the town authorities have so far failed to provide any information about the reasons for the shortage or when services are likely to resume. On previous occasions, such eventualities were remedied by supplying drinking water with tankers. However,…

Out of Border

Deutsche Welle recently carried a report on an Uzbek NGO, which I have translated in full. I apologise in advance for any grievous inaccuracies. In the Uzbek region of Khorezm, a non-governmental organization called Nazhot (Hope) has been operating for the last six years. The group, which is not registered with the Ministry of Justice, is actively engaged with monitoring the human rights situation in Turkmenistan. It also provides legal assistance and information to Turkmen citizens, as well as Uzbeks, arrested in the neighbouring state. Natalia Bashueva spoke to Deutsch Welle about some aspects of the group’s work. In recent…

Duma Diligence

According to a report in the Russian newspaper Parlamentskaya Gazeta, earlier this month the Duma forwarded a request to the Kremlin to provide financially for Russian pensioners living in Turkmenistan. The proposal has come in the wake of the recently drafted law on pensions, which has caused considerable concern about the fate of elderly Russian citizens living in the country. The Turkmen government in its own has refuted the essence, if not the content, of international reporting of the pensions scandal. An article that appeared on the Turkmen State Information Agency last week offered more details about how the new…

Shadow Politics

Daniel Kimmage of RFE/RL has an outstanding analysis of the recent political murder in Kazakhstan and the shadowy politics that surround it. Don’t miss it; it is worth a read in its entirety. It draws heavily upon a November 2005 report by the Eurasian Center for Political Research and the Epicenter Agency for Social Technologies (if anyone has a link to the full text, please comment) to describe the various power groups that vie for influence over President Nazarbayev, and analyzes who the winners and losers are from Sarsenbaev’s murder. The series of connections is so convoluted and murky that…

Disabled People

On 8 January 2006 a fire destroyed the Chorog orphanage for intellectually disabled children in Gorki Street in Dushanbe. 13 children were killed in the blaze. The children who have survived were moved to a temporary home in a rehabilitation centre in Dushanbe. Around the fire there have been a number of unverified rumors. The most striking is that the fire brigades only came one hour after the fire had started, although the staff claims they called immediately. The orphange was located in a central location in Dushanbe, close to the ministries and this might lead to the assumption held…

Voices from Central Asia and the Caucasus

Cows by Lake Issyk Kul in Kyrgyzstan Welcome to the latest roundup from the Central Asian and Caucasian blogosphere brought to you bi-weekly by neweurasia. As usual, we take you through the countries alphabetically. Armenia: As a matter of routine, we’d like to draw your attention to the Oneworld blog where Onnik Krikorian has written up his latest roundup from the (English-speaking) Armenian blogosphere. This week, there has been little political discussion, and the bloggers focus on writing about culture. On the same blog, Nessuna summarises the Armenian-language blogosphere, containing great information on the country’s higher education system and the…

Shul Destruction

Neweurasia hasn’t covered it yet, but a major piece of news coming out of Tajikistan lately is the government’s decision to demolish the the country’s only synagogue to make way for a presidential palace. Pleas from the international Jewish community have still met no success in changing the government’s mind. Democracy in Central Asia and Registan (plus a discussion) have the full scoop.

The Saints are marching in?

A Forum 18 article “KYRGYZSTAN: Intolerance against Christians highlighted by murderâ€? highlights the tenions caused by evangelist activity in Central Asia. The late December murder of a Protestant in a village in eastern Kyrgyzstan has highlighted the difficulties for ethnic Kyrgyz of Muslim backgrounds in rural areas who convert to Christianity, The issue of hostility to Muslims who convert to Christianity is a widespread problem in all the Central Asian republics. (…) There are at least two factors underlying the intolerant attitude of Muslims towards Muslims who have converted to Christianity. Under Islamic law, Muslims who reject their faith have…

Bribery in HE Institutions

This story’s been rumbling around in Bishkek for a while now and there’s been some interesting debate in Russian language media, so thought a quick look would be in order. Even so, it is worth noting that the issue is, alas, nothing new – as this paper by Nadezhda Romanchuk from 2002 shows. As she concludes, the situation is far more complex than simply increasing lecturers’ pay: Nowadays higher educational institutes in Kyrgyzstan is a place which is represented by 2 structures working in different directions: corrupt instructors against honest and professional lecturers, students “studying” for diploma against students who…

A Russian Comeback

The determination of what languages are taught in school is naturally a very political process. Uzbekistan’s shifting political climate has led to an increased emphasis on Russian in education, and the obvious cause of it is Uzbekistan’s and Russia’s increasingly cozy relationship. Not only is the language being emphasized more, but not surprisingly, praises are being sung to Russia instead of America. While Uzbekistan finding Russia waiting with open arms following the events in Andijan is a decided negative, increasing emphasis on the Russian language is not necessarily bad. Language facilitates communication, and a lingua franca in a region of…

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