Authorities in a resource-rich territory in Russia are on a witch-hunt for books deemed subversive, in particular those published with the help of an undesirable foreign entity.
The news website 7x7, a media outlet based in Russia’s Komi Republic, reported January 13 that regional officials issued an order late last year to remove books held in libraries and educational institutions that were published with funds provided by the Open Society Foundations, a network of philanthropic initiatives financed by billionaire investor George Soros.
Russian leaders have long accused Soros and his network, which strives to foster civil society in formerly communist states, of working to overthrow the established order in Russia and other formerly Soviet republics. On November 30, Russian prosecutors formally designated the Soros foundation network as an “undesirable” entity, in effect making it a crime for any Russian citizen in Russia to have contact with the organization.
According to documents posted by 7x7, days before prosecutors in Moscow made the announcement on undesirable status, Andrei Travnikov, the deputy presidential envoy in the North-West Federal District, which includes the Komi Republic, issued a directive to Komi officials to inventory Soros-funded books held by state institutions and remove them. In citing a reason for such action, Travnikov claimed in his directive that Soros-funded books “form a wrong perception of Russia’s history in young people and popularize ideas that are alien to Russian ideology.”
With oil prices now barely above $31 per barrel, Azerbaijan’s energy-export economy is taking on lots of water. And what is worse, Baku’s lifeboat, the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan, appears to be in danger of foundering.
A prominent European think tank contends that the Russian economy may be entering into a death spiral, driven by a combination of factors, including low energy prices, government mismanagement, a collapse in the Russian ruble’s value and Western sanctions.
The row about the British miner expelled from Kyrgyzstan after likening a traditional local dish, chuchuk, to a horse’s penis has begun to subside. As the founder of news website Kloop.kg Bektour Iskender explains, however, the furor has exposed some rarely discussed tensions within Kyrgyz society.
In late December, an unsigned piece posted on a popular Russian-language blog, headlined “Companions in the Fight,” caused a stir on the Russian Internet by shedding light on a largely unexamined facet of the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s background.
From a sixth-floor window overlooking Bishkek’s “golden quarter” — a district touted as holding the city’s prime real estate — a panorama of slow-moving and stalled construction projects greets the eye.