In his office, Ozbek Azhi Chotonov, head of the Bishkek-based Islamic think tank Source of the Truth, plays a news clip about the hospitalization of a young girl in neighboring Kazakhstan after a bad reaction to a vaccine. For him, the report constitutes Exhibit A as to why vaccines are more dangerous than the diseases they are designed to prevent.
Amid a spreading climate of fear in Russia, underscored by the late February assassination of Boris Nemtsov, Russians with something to lose are increasingly trying to find safe havens abroad for their assets.
A lone gunman shot and killed one of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon’s most aggressive critics on March 5. Some observers have drawn parallels between the murder of Umarali Quvvatov and the late February assassination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.
Activists in Armenia are worrying that new government-proposed requirements for non-governmental organizations will undermine Armenia’s relatively freely functioning civil-society sector. Some believe that the Armenian government, in mulling upending the status quo, is seeking to please the country’s economic and strategic overlord – Russia.
Tajikistan has been on a steady march toward authoritarianism under strongman President Emomali Rahmon for years. The country’s March 1 parliamentary elections – criticized by international observers as flawed – confirmed that the journey is complete: the results removed the last vestiges of opposition from the rubber-stamp parliament.
The fallout from Russia’s economic downturn is forcing Kyrgyzstan to spend its limited reserves to fend off speculators and ease pressure on its currency, National Bank Chairman Tolkunbek Abdygulov tells EurasiaNet.org. Abdygulov is using the crisis to try to strengthen rules for the Central Asian country’s under-regulated financial sector.
As Kazakhstan heads for a snap presidential election, strongman leader Nursultan Nazarbayev is making no secret of his reasoning for an early vote: he wants to both reinforce support for the government to help it weather an economic downturn and to disarm “nationwide alarm” about the potential threat of “internal discord and external conflicts.”
Leo Forrest is just over a month old, but already has become a potent symbol of the struggles and discrimination that disabled children endure in Armenia. Whether his story can catalyze changes in public attitudes, however, remains unclear.
The European Union is making a push to raise its profile in two trouble spots in the South Caucasus, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Brussels insists its forays in the region are nothing more than routine diplomacy. But some observers believe the EU is hoping to push back against Russia’s troublemaking in Ukraine.