Like any host, Azerbaijan is trying to spruce up the capital Baku in advance of the inaugural European Games in late June. Authorities, for example, are calling on citizens to keep jalopies off the streets of the capital while the games are being staged. But one new rule is striking Baku residents as excessive: officials are prohibiting locals from taking photos in Baku’s historic Old Town.
In many ways, Kalmar is an archetypal Swedish settlement with a picture-postcard center featuring fastidiously clean cobblestone streets and centuries-old wooden buildings. But the town, situated on Sweden’s southeastern coast, is unusual in one respect: it is home to hundreds of Uzbek refugees harboring a Silk Road secret.
Aiming to prevent close relatives from marrying each other, officials in Tajikistan are considering legislation that would require couples to undergo a mandatory medical exam before tying the knot. The idea is to decrease the number of children born with debilitating illnesses and to address a burgeoning HIV crisis.
The upcoming 100th anniversary of the Medz Yeghern, or the “Great Catastrophe,” is highlighting the mixed feelings that Turkey’s tiny ethnic Armenian minority has for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s administration.
As President Almazbek Atambayev was trumpeting Kyrgyzstan’s democratization potential during a late March European tour, Kyrgyz state security agents were raiding a human rights organization best known for defending members of the embattled Uzbek minority in the southern city of Osh.
BAKU -- Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has pardoned more than 100 inmates ahead of Norouz, the New Year holiday, including three who were seen by government opponents and rights activists as political prisoners.
Dina’s son Botir was killed last September fighting in Syria for one of the Islamist groups opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Six months later, she is not only still struggling to cope with grief, but also facing harassment from Kyrgyzstan’s powerful secret police, the GKNB.
When it comes to authoritarian Uzbekistan’s dismal human rights record, the Obama administration says “strategic patience” should characterize its relationship with Tashkent. But the premise of strategic patience in Uzbekistan’s case is flawed because Tashkent plays by a different set of rules.
Azerbaijan currently holds a dubious distinction of holding almost double the number of political prisoners than those held in Belarus and Russia combined. The Azerbaijani government’s use of criminal prosecution as a tool for political retaliation against its critics is a well-documented problem.