Two days before her 40th birthday, Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova was released from prison on May 25. Questions persist about the Azerbaijani government’s motivation for the release, and whether it portends a loosening of restrictions on civil liberties at home and improved relations with the United States and European Union.
A spring gust whips dust across the surface of the running track at the Kazhymukan Munaitpasov Stadium in Astana, but the football team that called the ground its home for decades before the city became Kazakhstan’s capital in 1997 is unlikely to flower again.
The news came on May 11. Tajik prosecutors demanded life sentences for four jailed leaders of the banned Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), the country’s main opposition party. Authorities also sought to imprison 13 other party leaders for up to 30 years.
Authorities are facing tough choices in Kazakhstan, as demonstrations against plans to sell and rent swathes of farming land threaten to evolve into a broader anti-government movement. Some analysts are cautioning that the situation is combustible.