Authorities in Kazakhstan have burned through $414 million over two days in an effort to halt the slide of the country’s currency, the tenge, which broke the psychologically important barrier of 300 to the dollar on September 16.
Just three months ago, Azerbaijan was playing host to the inaugural European Games. These days, it seems as though Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s administration is prepared to make a break with the European Union.
The Russia-operated Electricity Networks of Armenia, the country’s main power supplier, claimed to be so cash-strapped that it had to raise rates, an announcement that sparked massive protests. But the company’s revenue woes did not prevent executives from authorizing millions of dollars in donations to a charitable organization chaired by Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.
It felt like an omen. As people filed out of the state musical theater in Nukus, Uzbekistan, after celebrations to mark the centenary of the late founder of the city’s remarkable avant-garde art museum, rain began to fall.
The contrast between the Azerbaijani government’s secular orientation and the country’s increasingly pious population is coming into sharp focus in a seaside town about an hour’s drive from the Iranian border.