EurasiaNet (53)

Russia Closes Azerbaijani Diaspora Organization

The Russian Supreme Court has upheld a prior decision to shutter the country's largest Azeri diaspora organization, a move that was sharply criticized by Baku. The All-Russian Azerbaijani Congress was liquidated on September 19 at the request of the Russian Ministry of Justice. Hikmet Hajiyev, ...

Kyrgyzstan Accuses Kazakhstan of Political Meddling

Kyrgyzstan is brimming with indignation at what it perceives as the meddling of neighboring Kazakhstan in its upcoming presidential election. On September 19, the office of Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced he had met for talks in Astana with Kyrgyz presidential candidate and ...

New Language Learning Policy Revives Controversy Over Russian in Armenia

A new government education policy that gives a special status for the Russian language in Armenia's schools has provoked a backlash, the latest flashpoint in a tense struggle over the status of Russian in the country. The proposal by Armenia's Ministry of Education and Science, developed on behalf ...

Kazakhstan: Children in Hijabs Barred From Schools

The management of educational affairs in the town of Zhanaozen, in western Kazakhstan, plans to sue the parents of 60 pupils. Girls are unable to attend classes because they wear Islamic dress in violation of the school rules, RFE/RL's Kazakhstan service, Radio Azattyk, has reported. The children's ...

No More Georgian in South Ossetia's Schools?

The school year has just begun in South Ossetia, but it could prove to be a strange one for the territory's few remaining ethnic Georgians. From this year onwards, all Georgian-medium schools in the self-declared republic are to shift to the Russian language . The change is to begin gradually, ...

Armenia: Hint of Territorial Concessions to Azerbaijan Sparks Controversy

Armenia's foreign minister suggested the country could hand over certain territories around the disputed Nagorno Karabakh to Azerbaijan as part of a hypothetical peace deal, sparking controversy among Armenians. The widespread outrage underscores the disconnect between hardened public perceptions of ...

Report: Nationalist Rhetoric on the Rise in Armenia and Azerbaijan

A new report has detailed how nationalist rhetoric has become more widespread across the societies of both Armenia and Azerbaijan since the two fought a brief war last April. The April war and subsequent clashes "not only spur up tension and violence, but are also accompanied by significant ...

Saakashvili Goes to Kyiv

After being propelled into Ukraine over the flimsy resistance of border guards, Georgia's onetime leader, the stateless politician Mikheil Saakashvili, arrived in Kyiv on September 19 to drum up public support for his fast-escalating battle against Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Greeting ...

Tajikistan: Saudis Brag About Pushing Out Iran

Middle Eastern rivalries are being felt as far away as Tajikistan. Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Tajikistan spoke in an interview last week of his satisfaction at successfully pursuing diplomatic overtures that culminated with the expulsion of Iran and its agents from the country.' This is a great ...

Newly Released Blogger Airs Grievances Against Azerbaijan

If Azerbaijan expected gratitude for releasing a blogger from prison early, it has miscalculated. When Russian-Israeli travel blogger Alexander Lapshin was released after seven months in an Azerbaijani prison, his lawyer announced that Lapshin had written a letter of thanks to the country's ...

Uzbekistan: Official Currency Trading Hints at Size of Black Market

In the first week following the government's decision to make the national currency officially convertible, households and businesses in Uzbekistan bought around $300 million worth of Uzbek sum, a leading financial regulator has said, offering some hint of what has been happening on the black ...

Newly Released Blogger Airs Grievances Against Azerbaijan

If Azerbaijan expected gratitude for releasing a blogger from prison early, it has miscalculated. When Russian-Israeli travel blogger Alexander Lapshin was released after seven months in an Azerbaijani prison, he wrote a letter of thanks to the country's president, Ilham Aliyev. "Today I learned ...

Tajikistan: Airport Director Killed By President's Helicopter

The director of an airport in Tajikistan's Pamir Mountains was killed on September 13 after being blown off his feet by the downwash from a helicopter carrying the country's president. A source in the Interior Ministry told EurasiaNet.org that Dildor Maksudshoyev, 60, was stood at the end of a red ...

Azerbaijan and BP Cement Ties Through 2050

The government of Azerbaijan signed a new production sharing agreement with the consortium operating the Azeri-Chirag-Deepwater Gunashli oil field in the Caspian. The new deal gives Baku a much larger stake in the field and establishes Azerbaijan's economic ties to Europe for decades to come. The ...

Uzbekistan: Prosecutors Go After Sadist Local Official

Prosecutors in Uzbekistan have reacted swiftly to the indignation generated by footage that surfaced online showing a local official assaulting heads of schools for failing to organize sufficiently elaborate celebrations for Independence Day. In the footage, a man identified as the mayor of ...

Pentagon Looking to Georgia to Help Arm Syrian Rebels

The United States negotiated with Georgia to buy weapons for Syrian rebel militias. While both the Pentagon and the Georgian government confirmed the deal, the Georgian government said it was still waiting for formal confirmation on where the weapons would end up before any deal was completed. ...

Kyrgyzstan: Opposition Front Collapses In Sight of Election

At the start of August, the leaders of three political parties in Kyrgyzstan announced they were joining forces and putting forward a single candidate for the October 15 presidential election. Bakyt Torobayev of the Onuguu-Progress party, Adakhan Madumarov of Butun Kyrgyzstan, and Kamchibek Tashiyev ...

Armenia Debates Leaving the Eurasian Union

A pro-Western group in Armenia's parliament has submitted a proposal for the country to leave the Eurasian Union, spurring public debate about the Union's merits even as leaving the Russia-dominated bloc remains unlikely. The Yelk Coalition formally unveiled the proposal on September 8, just before ...

Tajikistan: Government a No-Show at OSCE Conference

Tajikistan has declined to despatch an official delegation to attend this year's annual rights conference in Poland held by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, thereby spurning an event heavily attended instead by the exiled opposition. State media back home, meanwhile, prefaced ...

Misha in Revolution Mode

He's rammed his way across an international border, rallied cheering supporters and vowed to bring down oligarchs -- that indefatigable post-Soviet revolutionary, Mikheil Saakashvili, is back in action. After inserting himself back into Ukraine on September 10 and setting up shop in a luxury hotel ...

Uzbekistan Reducing Cotton Fields But Forced Labor Remains

Uzbekistan is cutting back on its cotton cultivation to make way for fruit and vegetable fields. While that happens, however, the custom of forcing state workers to pick cotton is proving hard to abandon. The area of cotton fields is being cut by 400 square kilometers this year, and another even ...

Kyrgystan and Centerra Clinch Pre-Election Deal

Kyrgyzstan and its largest foreign commercial investor, Centerra Gold, claim to have buried more than half a decade of uncertainty with a deal the government signed right in time for the October 15 presidential election. On September 11, the government headed by new Prime Minister Sapar Isakov put ...

Azerbaijan's Aliyev Opens Some Prison Doors

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev is in an uncharacteristically charitable mood: on September 11, he pardoned imprisoned travel blogger Alexander Lapshin and ordered the pre-trial release of Mehman Aliyev, editor-in-chief of Azerbaijan's last independent newswire. For a country with essentially no ...

There is a Specter Haunting Azerbaijan, the Specter of George Soros

In response to a recent string of corruption allegations and international criticism, Azerbaijan's authorities have identified a scapegoat: billionaire philanthropist George Soros. Last week, investigative reporting by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project revealed a secret $2.9 ...

Ukraine: Saakashvili's Return Sets Stage for Sovereignty Crisis

Editors' Picks: No IMG_4257.jpg Mikheil Saakashvili came to power in his native Georgia in 2003 when he and his supporters stormed the parliament building in Tbilisi. Now, he seems to hope that his raucous re-entry into Ukraine – his adoptive homeland that stripped him of citizenship this past ...

Azerbaijan Threatens to Cut Off Military Cooperation With US and NATO

Azerbaijan has threatened to cut off its military cooperation with the West in response to escalating pressure on Baku for its human rights violations. But that threat may ring hollow in light of Azerbaijan's declining importance for Western militaries. United States Senator Richard Durbin on ...

Kazakhstan: Former Top Security Chief Convicted, But Why?

A military court in Kazakhstan has sentenced a former head of the nation's security services to seven-and-a-half years in prison on charges of divulging state secrets. The sentence was handed down to Nartay Dutbayev by the Akmola garrison military court on August 24 following a trial held behind ...

Mikheil Saakashvili Enters Ukrainian Territory

Chanting Glory to Ukraine!' and Misha, Misha, Misha!' a crowd of Mikheil Saakashvili's male supporters on September 10 broke through a security cordon at a Ukrainian border-point to pull the embattled opposition leader from no-man's-land between Poland and Ukraine onto Ukrainian territory. ...

Saakashvili's Train to Ukraine Stopped in Poland

Ex-Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on September 10 found himself stuck in a train in Przemysl, Poland, some 45 kilometers from the Ukrainian border, after railway personnel decided that the Ukrainian-run train could not continue to Ukraine so long as a passenger without the right to travel to ...

Uzbekistan: Turkish Business Returning, Cautiously

Turkish businessmen in Uzbekistan have repeatedly been stung over the years, but they may gradually returning to this promising market. One high-profile investor, however, still remains deeply embittered at his experiences in the country and is seeking hefty damages in the courts. On September 16, ...

Karabakh: Leader Starts Third Term As Region Consolidates Presidential Power

It's the same leader, but a changing political system. On September 7, Bako Sahakyan was inaugurated for a third term in office as president of the unrecognized Nagorno Karabakh Republic. But the political structure he's presiding over is undergoing potentially far-reaching shifts. Sahakyan will ...

Joy Greets Reopening of Key Kyrgyz-Uzbek Border Crossing

Editors' Picks: No 090817-1.jpg On September 6, the Dostuk border crossing between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan fully reopened to the public for the first time since 2010. Positioned right between two populous Ferghana Valley cities — Osh and Andijan — the reopened crossing will not just help ...

With Russia-NATO Meeting, is Baku the New Caucasian Geneva?

NATO's military chief and his Russian counterpart met in Baku, the first such high-level meeting since the two sides froze relations in 2014. This follows a similar meeting in February between the Russian officer, Valeriy Gerasimov, and the chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joe ...

Belarus Balks at Prospect of Big Investments in Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan's investment climate is so poor that even companies in one of its closest ally nations decline the opportunity to work there. A senior executive at Belaruskali, a Belarus-owned global player on the potash fertilizer market, announced on September 7 that his company will not be bidding ...

Azerbaijan: State Low-Cost Airline Replaced By Lower-Cost Airline

The Azerbaijani capital of Baku may be associated with oil wealth and posh, Emirates-style skyscrapers, but a new airline is focusing on another reality: economic crisis. On September 1, Azerbaijan low-coster Buta Airways launched its maiden flight, ferrying a group of local journalists from Baku's ...

Report: $7 Million Payment Tied to Hungary's Extradition of Azerbaijani Axe-Murderer

A new report has uncovered a $7 million payment from Azerbaijan into a Hungarian bank account, timed suspiciously closely to Budapest's extradition of a convicted axe-murderer to Baku, where he was given a hero's welcome and pardoned. Research by Hungarian investigative journalism NGO ...

Kazakhstan: Independent Newspaper Editor Condemned to Limited Freedom

A court in Kazakhstan has sentenced the editor of an independent newspaper to three years of limited freedom for purportedly using his publication to launder money. The judge at Almaty's Medeu district court also ruled on September 7 that Zhanbolat Mamay should be denied the right to carry out any ...

Kyrgyzstan: Revolution Bulldozer Silenced With YouTube

Security services in Kyrgyzstan have filed criminal charges against a veteran politician known best for his active role in fomenting two successful antigovernment revolts, a feat that has earned him the nickname revolution bulldozer.' Azimbek Beknazarov is accused of giving false testimony during ...

Armenia: The Highway Leads to Karabakh, But the Money Comes from California

On September 1, Armenian President Serzh Sargysyan and Karabakh leader Bako Sahakyan ceremonially opened a new highway connecting Armenia to the Armenian-controlled territory of Nagorno Karabakh before a delegation of politicians, religious leaders, and diaspora Armenians. The 71.5-mile ...

Tajikistan: President Returns From China Trip With $310M

Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon has returned from a trip to China with nearly $310 million in grants and loans— the bulk of which is to be spent building a brand new government and parliament complex. The financial haul was the result of Rahmon's 16th visit to neighboring China. As ...

Azerbaijan Sues French Journalists, In France, For Defamation

Two French reporters appeared in a Parisian court on September 5 to face charges that they defamed Azerbaijan by calling it a dictatorship.' One of the journalists, Elise Lucet, called Azerbaijan one of the world's harshest dictatorships' in a Cash Investigation' program broadcast on the France 2 ...

Georgia: Verdict Arrives in Church Poisoning Plot

A guilty verdict has been delivered in Georgia's poisoning conspiracy, an outré case that locally evoked comparisons to everything from the Game of Thrones to the Da Vinci Code. After nearly seven months of investigation and trial, complete with cyanide, snake venom and macabre prophesies, the ...

Uzbekistan: HRW Speaks of Hope for Human Rights

A delegation with New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch has, during its first visit to Uzbekistan since the organization was banned there in 2010, called on the government to embark on an overhaul of its human rights agenda. The trip to Uzbekistan by a HRW delegation marks another sign of ...

Uzbekistan: HRW Speaks of Hope for Human Rights

A delegation with New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch has rounded off its first visit to Uzbekistan since the organization was banned there in 2010 with a call for the government to embark on an overhaul of its human rights agenda. The trip to Uzbekistan by a HRW delegation marks ...

Uzbekistan: President Heads Up Security Bodies With Loyalists

The president of Uzbekistan has reshuffled senior security officials, appointing loyalists as head of the police and army in a move that will be seen as an effort to bolster his grip over power. Shavkat Mirziyoyev on September 4 named Pulat Bobojonov as Interior Minister, replacing an official who ...

Kyrgyzstan: Fear of Myanmar Fury Disrupts Football

Kyrgyzstan has cited the possibility of public unrest over unfolding developments in Myanmar in its decision to cancel a football match against the southeast Asian nation scheduled for September 5. Football authorities said they agreed with concerns that unrest might break out between fans in the ...

At Last Minute, Armenia Drops Out of NATO Exercises in Georgia

At the last minute and with no explanation, Armenia has dropped out of NATO military exercises in Georgia, after taking part in several other drills with the Western alliance this summer. Georgia's Ministry of Defense announced just before the start of the exercise, on September 3, that Armenia had ...

Uzbekistan Moves to Rehabilitate Blacklisted Muslims

State television in Uzbekistan has reported that some 16,000 people formerly featured on blacklists over their alleged extremist religious convictions have been officially rehabilitated. The figure was given by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in a speech aired on Uzbekistan 24 news channel on September ...

Music Festival Brings Armenians, Azerbaijanis, and Georgians Together

Editors' Picks: No DSC_4406.jpg A music festival in Georgia strives to evoke a time when the nations of the Caucasus lived in harmony.

Kazakhstan: Astana Sees Battle Among Local, Indian Workers

A massive brawl broke out in the capital of Kazakhstan late on September 2, provoking a fleeting diplomatic scandal. It all reportedly began when Indian laborers hired to build the high-rise Abu Dhabi Plaza went on a drinking spree, seizing the opportunity of a day off work on the Islamic holiday of ...