The Facebook photo showing a hand holding an Azerbaijani passport came with a simple message: “I stand with Israel.” For a majority Shi’a Muslim country, that may not be an expected position to take on the conflict in Gaza between Israel and Palestinians; a struggle that has left hundreds of civilians dead or displaced since July.
Almost 80 years ago, ideological true believers from all over the world flocked to Spain to fight in a civil war, serving in the famed International Brigades on the Republican side. These days, echoes of Spain can be found in Ukraine, where foreign ideologues now can be found battling separatists backed by Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
A newly published book highlights the critical role vodka has played in Russian history. The work, titled Alcohol, Autocracy, and the Secret History of the Russian State, sees an enduring connection between vodka and the autocratic political institutions and policies that have characterized Russia for centuries.
When Astana launched its sovereign-wealth fund in 2008, authorities asserted that Samruk-Kazyna would modernize Kazakhstan’s economy and help attract foreign investors. Six years later, critics say the fund is bloated and lethargic, and privatization plans are stoking concerns among employees and analysts.
Below Tbilisi’s Rose Revolution Square and its shiny Radisson-Blu Hotel lies a crumbling, urine-dappled, underground labyrinth with bunker-like hideaways blaring Turkish and Middle Eastern dance music. Some allegedly are not just venues for drinks and stripteases.
Azerbaijan in recent months has launched a clear assault against various civil-society activists and non-governmental organizations. While rough treatment of critics is nothing new in this energy-rich South-Caucasus country, one question remains unanswered: Why pick up the pace now?
Media-rights observers fear that the Armenian government’s attempt to force two media outlets to disclose the names of confidential sources has set a dangerous precedent for the future of journalism in Armenia.