A newly published book highlights the critical role vodka has played in Russian history. The work, titled Alcohol, Autocracy, and the Secret History of the Russian State, sees an enduring connection between vodka and the autocratic political institutions and policies that have characterized Russia for centuries.
When Astana launched its sovereign-wealth fund in 2008, authorities asserted that Samruk-Kazyna would modernize Kazakhstan’s economy and help attract foreign investors. Six years later, critics say the fund is bloated and lethargic, and privatization plans are stoking concerns among employees and analysts.
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.