Today marks the centennial of the start of upheaval in Petrograd – events now known to history as the February Revolution – which forced Tsar Nicholas II to abdicate and paved the way for an experiment in Communism that lasted over 74 years.
During the Soviet era, Communist authorities propagated a rigid form of atheism, while persecuting believers to varying degrees in different eras. These days in Russia, the opposite is the case: the state is upholding strict Orthodox Christian doctrines, while using the judicial system to muzzle non-believers and religious dissenters.
Sitting in a modest, domed brick mausoleum, a bust of the partisan Nurmagambet Kokembayev smiles Buddah-like as he gazes out upon the snow-laden steppe of central Kazakhstan. It betrays nothing of the turbulent historical period he lived in, an epoch that is still a sensitive spot for the Central Asian nation’s leaders.
A massive Soviet-built hydroelectric plant on the de facto border of Georgia and Abkhazia is now closed for structural repairs, cutting the breakaway territory’s primary source of electricity, and forcing the two estranged partners to cooperate. The closure is also focusing fresh attention on the issue of efficiency, or the lack thereof, in the power sector.
Journalists at Georgia’s last major opposition broadcasting company are digging in and refusing to comply with a court order altering the outlet’s ownership structure. Doing so, they say, would sound the death knell for independent media in the country.
Unprecedented protests by workers at two of Georgia’s largest retailers are calling attention to the poor conditions under which many service-industry employees in the country work, advocates and experts say.