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.
It is the holiday season in Kyrgyzstan and thousands of laborers have come from Russia to celebrate with their families. But this year, some are unsure if they will return in spring, the traditional migration season.
This has been a year that many Armenian farmers would like to forget. First, unfavorable weather led to a poor harvest, and now, thanks in part to the significant devaluation of the national currency, the dram, many farmers are struggling to repay their debts.
Sardor Abdullayev, a construction worker from eastern Uzbekistan, had planned to go to Russia next spring to join relatives working construction sites in the Volga River city of Samara. But now, he says, “I am better off staying at home and driving a taxi.”
“Azerbaijan is not afraid of $60 per barrel,” a headline on the pro-government Azerbaijani news site Trend proclaimed recently. But with Brent crude oil, the benchmark for the oil market, now hovering around $60 a barrel, Baku might well have something to fear.
Azerbaijan currently holds a dubious distinction of holding almost double the number of political prisoners than those held in Belarus and Russia combined. The Azerbaijani government’s use of criminal prosecution as a tool for political retaliation against its critics is a well-documented problem.
Kazakhstan’s flagship international cycling team will have to sweat it out until February to see if it can compete that year in major international road races, including the Tour de France. A series of doping scandals has tainted the team. But where international sports officials see serious infractions, Kazakhstanis tend to see an international plot to steal their glory.