A topic that has not received the attention it deserves during Azerbaijan’s presidential election campaign is the role of Islam in society.
President Ilham Aliyev is currently trying to have it both ways, embracing Islam when it suits his administration’s political purposes, while playing the extremist card against any believer who is not in lockstep with his agenda.
Faced with the prospect of potential arrest, police abuse or harassment, few Azerbaijani women seem willing to stick out their necks these days to take a public stance on issues. But for one group of practicing Shi’a Muslim women, the risks are not a deterrent to protesting.
When Turkish Airlines started transiting through Bishkek on its new thrice-weekly flights from Istanbul to Ulaanbaatar in mid-2012, the move was hailed in Kyrgyzstan as the start of a transition to a “civilian transit hub” that would replace the controversial American airbase at Manas International Airport.
If you are a homemaker with no independent source of income, some Azerbaijani banks are still ready to extend an unusual offer to you: a so-called “housewife” loan, repayable at an average annual interest rate of 25 percent, and few questions asked.
Late at night, Aibek Baratov is driving around Kyrgyzstan’s poorly lit capital testing his latest project. Tired of hearing about pedestrian deaths, and frustrated with a lack of interest among Bishkek city officials to address the hazard, the activist took matters into his own hands and installed reflective signs marking crosswalks.
In what many local observers see as the latest in a series of pushbacks against government critics in Armenia, military investigators have filed criminal charges against Volodya Avetisian, a retired army colonel who launched a series of protests this spring for better benefits for Nagorno-Karabakh war veterans.
Turkey’s new democratization reform package may mark a step forward for civil rights, but it does not go far enough to ease social tension and feelings of mistrust that are afflicting the country, analysts say.
Kyrgyzstan’s government is working overtime to convince legislators and the public that a preliminary restructuring deal involving the country’s largest foreign investor is in the state’s best interests. But parliament’s governing coalition is balking at signing off on the deal.
The last time 76-year-old Venera Oshoridze saw her son, Kakha, was September 15, 1993.
A pensive 20-year-old who loved his friends, his mother’s fried potatoes, and dreamed of going to college, Kakha volunteered to fight in the Abkhaz war just days before Tbilisi lost the battle for Sokhumi on September 27, 1993.