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.
A campaign slogan – “Mortgages at 10 Percent Interest!” – is featured on a billboard touting a leading contender in Kyrgyzstan’s October 4 parliamentary elections. For many in this Central Asian nation, which is grappling with high inflation and currency depreciation, the cheap-credit pledge seems too good to be true.
Once a mega-multimillion-dollar hub for car buyers from across Eurasia, Georgia’s famed used auto market is now running out of gas. Hit by sharp devaluations against the dollar and stricter import regulations, sales at the car bazaar are flagging.
Every year disability organization volunteers embark on a trip around Kyrgyzstan’s Lake Issyk-Kul, on foot and in wheelchairs, stopping off at schools along the way. They seek to promote understanding and acceptance for the disabled.
Ilan Şor is a central figure in an allegedly complex money-laundering scheme that cost Moldovan taxpayers nearly $1 billion. But the 28-year-old businessman seems unfazed by controversy: three months ago, he became mayor of Moldova’s regional town of Orhei, and has recast himself as a “mayor-investor.”
Earlier this month, authorities in Turkmenistan allowed a prominent cultural icon, Geldy Kyarizov, to leave the country. It is a noteworthy development for a country that rights activists describe as one of the most repressive states on earth, but it is unlikely that it signals a significant easing of the Turkmen government’s authoritarian ways.