Tajikistan’s public schools are known to be among the poorest in the former Soviet Union. Yet a highly-regarded network of private schools run by a group with ties to an embattled Turkish cleric is facing closure. The schools are caught in the middle of political maneuvering between Tajikistan and Turkey, according to some analysts.
The combination of Western sanctions and the collapse of oil prices is exposing deep structural problems in Russia’s economy, and it is showing the petro-state model of governance developed by Vladimir Putin is unsustainable. Yet just because Putin’s system can’t last doesn’t mean its demise is imminent.
Central Asia’s two least-developed countries, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, are both heavily dependent on Chinese investment these days. But now it appears Chinese investors are tiring of persistent uncertainty in Kyrgyzstan and are shunning the country in favor of neighboring Tajikistan.
A little over a year ago, the northwestern Armenian city of Gyumri, home to Russia’s 102nd army base, welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin to town with pomp, circumstance, and waving flags. Now, protesters in the town are trampling Russian flags underfoot instead.
Central Asia’s dependence on remittances from labor migrants in Russia has long given the Kremlin a powerful lever to manipulate the region’s politics. Now, new regulations are making finding work in Russia more costly and difficult for many Central Asian guest workers.
Persistent institutional chaos is undermining public confidence in Kyrgyzstan’s parliamentary republic as the country enters a new political cycle.
Observers fear parliamentary elections this November could destabilize and further fracture Kyrgyzstan, as officials – including the secretive coterie surrounding President Almazbek Atambayev – scramble to accumulate power.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to use religion to advance an expansionist agenda. But an increasing number of believers in Ukraine appear to be rejecting the notion that Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church are the defenders of the true faith.
Uzbekistan has set a presidential election date for March 29. What isn’t clear is whether Islam Karimov, the man who has run the country with an iron grip since the Central Asian nation gained independence, will be a candidate.
Visit a Moscow market, or courtyard, or construction site, and it’s easy to forget you are in Russia’s largest city, not Tajikistan or Uzbekistan. Central Asian languages resound all over the Russian capital.
Georgian cinema has the wind at its back once again after spending a lengthy period in the creative doldrums. With two films short-listed for an Oscar, one of which is also up for a Golden Globe, Georgian directors have risen from the ashes of a collapsed film industry, showing that even with limited resources it is possible to make world-class films.