June is a big month for football. The Copa America tournament is underway in the United States, and the European Cup kicks off in a few days in France. But a third international tournament of sorts has already wrapped up in the separatist entity of Abkhazia.
The weekend’s bloodshed in Kazakhstan seemed to catch the government off-guard. While Kazakhstan has experienced radical-driven violence in the past, until a few days ago authorities seemed more concerned about security threats emanating from domestic political critics than from Islamic militants.
Two days before her 40th birthday, Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova was released from prison on May 25. Questions persist about the Azerbaijani government’s motivation for the release, and whether it portends a loosening of restrictions on civil liberties at home and improved relations with the United States and European Union.
A spring gust whips dust across the surface of the running track at the Kazhymukan Munaitpasov Stadium in Astana, but the football team that called the ground its home for decades before the city became Kazakhstan’s capital in 1997 is unlikely to flower again.