Below Tbilisi’s Rose Revolution Square and its shiny Radisson-Blu Hotel lies a crumbling, urine-dappled, underground labyrinth with bunker-like hideaways blaring Turkish and Middle Eastern dance music. Some allegedly are not just venues for drinks and stripteases.
Azerbaijan in recent months has launched a clear assault against various civil-society activists and non-governmental organizations. While rough treatment of critics is nothing new in this energy-rich South-Caucasus country, one question remains unanswered: Why pick up the pace now?
Media-rights observers fear that the Armenian government’s attempt to force two media outlets to disclose the names of confidential sources has set a dangerous precedent for the future of journalism in Armenia.
Even in the best of times, the Azerbaijani government is not a talkative bunch. But their stone-wall silence after northern neighbor Georgia triumphantly confiscated roughly $175-million worth of liquid heroin on the Georgian-Azerbaijani border has sparked questions about the reasons for their reserve.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) last week upheld a controversial Georgian law that sets a potential behavior trap for the country’s legendary mobsters, or thieves-in-law. While many Georgians welcome this as a European stamp of approval for Tbilisi’s aggressive crackdown on organized crime, some observers believe that the law nonetheless can encourage a disregard for civil rights.
Child-rights advocates are questioning Tajikistan’s decision to identify orphans of Tajik migrants in Russia and arrange for their return to Tajik state institutions. Though the level of institutional care in both Russia and Tajikistan is low, these advocates say, the children would still most likely be better off remaining in Russia.
One of Ukraine’s most storied football clubs has become a casualty of the country’s separatist tumult. Six foreign-born players have abandoned Shakhtar Donetsk, leaving the defending Ukrainian Premier League champion short-handed on the eve of the start of the 2014-15 season.