With a high-profile trial in Armenia set to resume in which a Russian soldier stands accused of murdering a family of seven, observers wonder whether the loose ends connected to the case will ever be wrapped up. Russia is not eager to see light shined on systemic flaws within its military structure.
Prices for basic goods are creeping up in Tajikistan, and Russia’s economic woes are forcing Tajik labor migrants to return home. That spells trouble for hundreds of thousands of Tajiks who are struggling to stay above the poverty line.
Some Russian writers and independent journalists assert that incumbent Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin is doing an excellent imitation of long-dead Soviet party boss Leonid Brezhnev, who presided over the country’s steady decline during a period known as the Stagnation Era.
With Russian-Turkish relations bottoming out after Turkey’s downing of a Russian military jet last November, Ankara is scrambling to reduce its dependency on Russian gas. But the help it needs from post-Soviet energy producers may not be swift in coming.
The Muslim world continues to reverberate from the shock created by Saudi Arabia’s early January execution of Baqr al-Nimr, a dissident Shia cleric. Meanwhile, another outspoken Shia cleric, Taleh Bagir-zade, sits behind bars in Azerbaijan.
The United States has struggled in the post-Soviet era to define a durable framework for its relations with Central Asian states. Initially, securing the Soviet Union’s nuclear legacy was the main focus of US policy. Then, after 9/11, policy was shaped by Washington’s need for Central Asian support for US military operations in Afghanistan.
Policymakers in Armenia are wary of the risks of the country getting caught up in deepening Russian-Turkish rancor. But some observers see opportunity for Armenia to advance its interests amid the geopolitical falling out.