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.
Few Kazakhstanis were surprised when a top organizer of the 2011 Asian Winter Games, the biggest sporting spectacle the country has ever held, was jailed last October. Aidar Musin was found guilty of using $3 million in state funds earmarked for the event to buy himself luxury cars and prime real estate.
With less than three months until Kyrgyzstan joins the Kremlin’s new economic bloc, the Eurasian Economic Union, confusion over the EEU’s rules is keeping small-scale Kyrgyzstani entrepreneurs guessing.
For thousands of Azerbaijanis like 58-year-old high-school teacher Nargiz, the Azerbaijani national currency’s precipitous plunge on February 21 wiped out more than their savings. It popped a bubble of belief that Azerbaijan was protected from the kind of financial instability that has shaken other Eurasian states.