EurasiaNet (26)

The Aral Sea from 35,000 Feet: Not a Pretty Picture

Editors' Picks: No 081817-1eE.jpg The disappearance of the Aral Sea ranks as one of the worst man-made environmental disasters of the 20th century. These grainy photos, taken from 35,000 feet during a flyover of the region on August 17, seem to confirm that the sea is beyond repair. Yet they also ...

Kazakhstan: Authorities Scrap Rainbow Wall Over Suspicions of LGBT Propaganda

Officials in the western Kazakhstan city of Aktobe thought it might be nice to brighten up the look of the place. So about a month ago, municipal workers painted the balconies on an otherwise dreary apartment block in the colors of the rainbow. And that is when indignant local conservatives got ...

Uzbekistan Making It Easier to Travel In, And Out, of Country

Uzbekistan's presidential program on the development of tourism through to 2019 has again dangled the possibility that the visa regime could be eased for short-term visitors. Tourism industry insiders have already had their hearts broken on this once, however. At the start of the year, the ...

Patriot Games: Turkish Sprinter's Gold Occasions Pride, Controversy, in Azerbaijan

After winning the 200 meters spring at this month's World Athletics Championships, Ramil Guliyev took a victory lap holding two flags - Azerbaijani and Turkish. Guliyev was born in Azerbaijan when it was still part of the Soviet Union, but in 2011 he applied for Turkish citizenship. Azerbaijani ...

Georgia: Prank Call Leaves Minister in Hot Water, Confirms No One Wants Saakashvili

If you're a politician, it's always unpleasant to be publicly pranked. It's especially unpleasant if you contradict official policy in the course of that prank. But that's what happened to Georgian Interior Minister Giorgi Mgebrishvili earlier this week. He received a call from a man who he believed ...

Kyrgyzstan: As Hot Political Season Looms, Opposition Leader is Jailed for 8 Years

Only weeks before Kyrgyzstan is set to hold potentially decisive presidential elections, a court on August 16 sentenced a leading opposition politician to eight years in jail on charges that government critics have described as flimsy. Large contingents of police were dispatched to guard the ...

Uzbekistan Printing 50,000-Sum Banknotes to Reduce Cash Wads

It is an amusing novelty for visitors to Uzbekistan that a carrier bag is needed to haul around amounts equivalent to just a few dozen dollars. For Uzbeks, however, it is a major and perennial inconvenience. So many will have been happy to hear a Central Bank announcement on August 14 that a ...

Uzbekistan PM Visits Kyrgyzstan on Ice-Breaking Mission

The prime minister of Uzbekistan, Abdulla Aripov, flew to neighboring Kyrgyzstan on August 16 to further break the historic frostiness in ties and overcome remaining points of contention, such as yet-unsettled border delimitation. The intergovernmental encounter in Bishkek was the first between the ...

Kazakhstan: Deadly Border Incident Pinned on Smugglers

A deadly shooting on the border between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan has provided a grim illustration of the limitations in the free circulation of people and trade between the two nations despite the optimistic forecasts of those championing the Eurasian Economic Union. The incident occurred on the ...

Israeli Arms Manufacturer Alleged To Have Attacked Armenia From Azerbaijan

Officials from an Israeli arms manufacturer fired two drone missiles from Azerbaijan into Armenian-held territory, according to a complaint under investigation by the Israali Ministry of Defense. According to the allegations -- which have been denied by the company, Aeronautics Defense Systems -- ...

Azerbaijan's 'Last Independent Media Outlet' Faces Persecution

Azerbaijan's government has accused the Baku-based Turan Information Agency, widely seen as the country's last independent media company, of tax evasion. Turan and international media organizations said the allegations are in fact aimed at silencing independent journalism. On August 7, Turan ...

Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan: Energy Cooperation or Competition?

Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan have declared themselves strategic partners as the two sides try to cooperate on shipping energy to Europe while still in conflict over a disputed hydrocarbon deposit. Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov paid an official visit to Baku on August 8, where he ...

Azerbaijan: Road Deaths Involving Elite Youth Turn Political

A string of fatal car crashes involving the powerful and politically connected have sparked public outrage in Azerbaijan. The latest incident came on August 3, when two men were killed and two more injured in a collision caused by Nail Elman oglu Allahverdiyey. The 23-year-old is the grandson of ...

Saakashvili Goes to Poland, but How?

Mikheil Saakashvili has long had a reputation for pulling off the unexpected, and, this time, he's done it again, with a trip from the US to Poland shortly after having lost his Ukrainian citizenship, his only form of citizenship and the basis for his passport. The former Georgian president made the ...

Uncitizen Saakashvili: Life in Legal Limbo

Caught in a surreal bubble of statelessness, former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has pledged to return to Ukraine from his forced exile in New York and take on those who have tried to get rid of him. But first, he needs to figure out his legal status. And that could prove an even bigger ...

Kazakhstan: Government Critic Flees, Seeks Refuge in Europe

A few days after going missing, Kazakhstani government critic and journalist Ramazan Yesergepov has resurfaced in Paris and announced he is moving into exile to avoid arrest. Everything is fine with Ramazan Yesergepov, he is under the protection of Reporters Without Borders. He left the country ...

Uzbekistan: Karimov's Economic Model Comes Under Attack

Criticizing the policies of the late president of Uzbekistan is very much in vogue these days. Late last month, a recently created state-run TV news channel featured analytical content criticizing the mistakes' of the previous leadership — a description that could only be understood as a reference ...

Kazakhstan: Repentant Activist Gets 2 Years Limited Freedom

A civic rights activist in Kazakhstan who once led the charge for political change has been sentenced to two years of limited freedom, marking the culmination of her downfall. A court in Almaty's Almaly district this week ruled to find 39-year old Olesya Khalabuzar guilty of inciting ethnic hatred' ...

Kyrgyzstan: Two Opposition Trials Conclude With Lengthy Sentences

Courts in Kyrgyzstan wrapped up two separate politically charged trials on August 2, sentencing multiple opposition figures to lengthy terms in prison. A judge in Pervomaisky district court in Bishkek sentenced former member of parliament Sadyr Japarov to 11-and-a-half years in a high-security ...

Kazakhstan: Language Students Land in Egyptian Jails

When a group of students from Kazakhstan traveled to Egypt to improve on their Arabic language skills, the last thing they could have expected was to land up in a Cairo jail. The almost two-week ordeal of a group of six students finally came to a close this week when the Foreign Ministry sent a ...

Israeli Minister in Armenia: Damage Control or Something More?

Armenia-Israeli relations have been somewhat distant, complicated by the latter's strong ties with Yerevan's two biggest foes, Azerbaijan and Turkey. But a senior Israeli official has visited Yerevan amid signs that the politics of the Caucasus in Jerusalem may be shifting. Tsachi Hanegbi, Israel's ...

Turkmenistan: President Plays Commando To Ward Off Outside Threats

Turkmenistan's president has added to his increasingly idiosyncratic repertoire of public personae with a turn as a deadly gun-toting, knife-wielding commando. Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov performed his routine of one-handed pistol shooting and dagger-throwing during an inspection of troops on August ...

Uzbekistan: Exam Day Means Humiliating Anti-Cheat Inspections

When exam time comes around in Uzbekistan it is open season on the cheats. And anti-cheat measures have reached a new pitch of intensity this year. Footage doing the rounds online this week shows young people sitting an entrance test for a financial studies institute getting physical sweeps from ...

Israeli Minister in Armenia: Damage Control or Something More?

Armenia-Israeli relations have been somewhat distant by the latter's strong ties with Yerevan's two biggest foes, Azerbaijan and Turkey. But a senior Israeli official has visited Yerevan amid signs that the politics of the Caucasus in Jerusalem may be shifting. Tsachi Hanegbi, Israel's Minister for ...

Kazakhstan: Jailed Businessman's Wife Makes Torture Claims

The wife of a businessman arrested in Kazakhstan on suspicion of heading a criminal racketeering gang is crying foul with allegations that security service agents are torturing her spouse. But Murathan Tokmadi, who runs a major glass-making factory called KazStroySteklo, is attracting little ...

Uzbekistan Abuzz With Chatter About Gulnara Revelations

Ever since prosecutors in Uzbekistan confirmed last week that the late president's eldest daughter, Gulnara Karimova, has been convicted on corruption charges and is facing more investigations, social media users in the country have been in an absolute frenzy. The news came as a particular surprise ...