A report published October 28 by a London-based think tank analyzes efforts by Orthodox Churches to expand their spiritual and temporal influence in Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The constitutional separation of church and state has been “watered down” in all four countries, the report contends.
When Kyrgyz special forces swooped in on a group of suspected Islamic radicals holed up in a Bishkek house in mid-July, they brought out the heavy weapons. The rockets and gunfire fired by government troops destroyed not only the building targeted in the operation, but also three adjacent homes along Shurukova Street, and partially damaged two others.
Russia’s entry into the Syrian conflict is upsetting Turkey’s diplomatic ambitions. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s power play has shown that his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, lacks geopolitical leverage.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced in early October that Russian warships in the Caspian Sea launched 26 missiles against targets in Syria. The revelation caught Western analysts off guard, and demonstrated that the Kremlin has developed in recent years a significantly enhanced ability to project force.
In a cautiously hopeful sign for Kyrgyzstan’s ongoing experiment in parliamentary democracy, MPs appear to be growing more responsive to public pressure. Earlier in October, Kyrgyz MPs wilted in the face of public indignation and cancelled a public tender for the purchase of new seats for its deputies, a development that highlighted the emerging power of social media in the country.
A ceasefire is technically in place as Armenia and Azerbaijan search for a breakthrough stalemated political talks over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory. Yet there has been a sharp uptick in casualties along the so-called contact line. The trend is prompting some Armenians to reexamine their country’s strategic ties to Russia.
Plans to demolish some of the most popular landmarks in Tajikistan’s capital have sparked outrage. But with political repression intensifying, many residents in Dushanbe are being careful when expressing their feelings in public.
Pro-Kremlin elements in Moldova’s anti-government protests are embracing aggressive tactics as they try to capitalize on public frustration with rampant corruption and disrupt the country’s Western integration efforts.
Uzbekistan has pledged more transparency in a cotton industry blighted by a reputation for relying on child labor and press-ganging of unwilling individuals. Yet, authorities are hounding those trying to determine whether the government is keeping its word.