More than 25 years after its creation, a party game that enables participants to pretend they are Mafia hitmen remains wildly popular in Azerbaijan. Some regular players contend that the game is a reflection of daily reality.
Already embroiled in a public family feud and facing an unprecedented attack on her business empire, fresh trouble is enveloping Gulnara Karimova. The once-omnipotent daughter of Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov is becoming entangled in an investigation into the alleged kidnapping of one of her employees almost a year ago.
The mayor of Toronto, Canada’s largest city, made headlines recently by admitting to smoking crack cocaine. Taron Margarian, the mayor of Armenia’s capital Yerevan, is generating controversy in a different way – by proffering a vision of glowing flamingoes for his city.
No one in Dushanbe doubted who would win Tajikistan’s presidential election on November 6; most did not expect a free and fair vote. But President Imomali Rahmon’s administration tried to put on a good show.
Back in the days of the fabled Silk Road, Samarkand was a byword for cross-cultural exchange. For hundreds of years, Tajik served as a lingua franca in this flourishing center of Persian civilization, situated in present-day Uzbekistan. But now, Uzbek authorities seem intent on ripping up the city’s Tajik roots.
Georgia’s Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili claims his intended resignation later this month will help break the South Caucasus country’s dependence on strong political personalities. Yet, even if he gives up his formal title, political analysts in Tbilisi expect Ivanishvili to remain the power behind the Georgian government.
The Armenian government’s recent amnesty of several hundred prisoners has more to do with politics than a desire to reform the country’s justice system, human-rights activists contend. Authorities in Yerevan concede the existence of problems, but assert change is coming.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan proudly describes Istanbul’s newly opened Marmaray railway tunnel, linking Asia and Europe beneath the Bosphorus, as “the project of the century.” But as a series of increasingly larger and more expensive engineering feats are unveiled, observers are wondering whether Turkey can actually afford the price of progress?
Anyone following Tajikistan’s presidential election cycle knows that Imomali Rahmon is a cinch to win another seven-year term on November 6. But the lack of genuine electoral options is a source of frustration for an important constituency – the million-strong community of Tajik labor migrants in Russia.
Public anger is building in Azerbaijan over Russia’s rough treatment of an ethnic Azeri accused of murder. The incident likely will scuttle any chance, however remote, that Baku will join the Moscow-led Customs Union.