Management and staff at Kazakhstan’s flagship university are disputing recent accusations of censorship from a lecturer, who alleges he is being squeezed out over attempts to hold lectures on the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
A white sedan pulls up at a busy intersection in downtown Tashkent. The driver lowers the window, a man loitering nearby approaches, the driver hands over a fistful of $100 bills, the man hands over a black plastic bag and the car pulls away.
After a brief, winding trek up the hillside along a main thoroughfare, visitors to the northern Tajikistan town of Istaravshan reach an imposing, modern bricked gate leading to the remains of the ancient Mug Tepe citadel. The fortress represents a centerpiece underpinning Tajikistan’s claims to a proud historical legacy ranging back to the First Persian Empire and beyond.
When Kazakhstan opened the doors of the Nazarbayev University in 2010, the institution was hailed as a fledgling bastion of academic excellence and freedom in an educational system still hobbled by Soviet standards.
No sooner had images of a hippopotamus lost on a central street in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi gone viral this summer than offers of financial help for recovery from the city’s June 13-14 flood began to pour in. Yet, today, with well over $8.3 million raised from a variety of sources, questions have surfaced about how transparently and effectively the government is managing the money.