Founded in 2004 with the support of the Russian government, the Valdai Discussion Club bills itself as a forum that “aims to promote dialogue of Russian and international intellectual elites.” But the club’s 13th annual gathering, held in Sochi in late October, at times felt more like a shouting match than a measured debate.
The renewal of armed conflict between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave can potentially have global ramifications, participants at the recent nuclear security summit in Washington cautioned.
A newly published book highlights the critical role vodka has played in Russian history. The work, titled Alcohol, Autocracy, and the Secret History of the Russian State, sees an enduring connection between vodka and the autocratic political institutions and policies that have characterized Russia for centuries.
Tajikistan has experienced bouts of internal violence in the past couple of years, but the bloody episodes in the Rasht Valley and in Gorno-Badakhshan have little to do with home-grown Islamic extremism, asserts Muhiddin Kabiri, the leader of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, the only legally operating, religiously oriented political group in Central Asia today.
State Capitalism is weighing down the Russian economy, and there is not much Russian President Vladimir Putin can do to prop up the system, a leading Western expert contends. The trend raises questions about Putin’s ability to maintain his Kung-fu grip on power.
The building that houses the Executive Committee of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure is in a walled compound in the center of the Uzbek capital, Tashkent. I had the good fortune to be among the few Americans invited to take a peek inside.
In announcing that Georgia’s parliamentary elections would take place October 1, President Mikheil Saakashvili’s administration affirmed its commitment to conduct what one official said would be an “exemplary” vote. New technologies are helping election monitors hold officials to such pledges, but they still have limitations, experts say.
It’s clear that Russia and other authoritarian-minded, formerly Soviet states would like to turn out the lights on the Internet. Given their mood, an annual UN gathering, scheduled to be hosted by Azerbaijan in November, could emerge as a pivotal moment for web's future in Eurasia.