One afternoon in late August, members of Tajikistan’s last real opposition party turned up at the Sheraton Dushanbe Hotel for a news conference, intending to discuss the latest wave of government intimidation they were facing.
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.
Imam Rashot Kamalov, a popular Muslim preacher in southern Kyrgyzstan, faces over 10 years in prison for a sermon he gave last summer. Much of the case against him hinges on the words of a frequent witness for the state, a psychologist who speaks neither of the languages used in the sermon but claims a good feel for the “hidden meanings” of body language.
Authorities in Azerbaijan assert that playing host to the European Games marks the emergence of a self-assured nation capable of staging a major international sporting event. But some residents of the host city, the Azerbaijani capital Baku, are reserving judgment. To them, the accuracy of such statements will be determined by developments after the closing ceremonies on June 28.
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.