Shahbol Mirzoev voluntarily answered the call in Tajikistan, appearing for his military service last fall shortly after graduating university. By spring, the 22-year-old was paralyzed from the neck down, a victim of a brutal tradition in the Tajik military that officials seem unable to stop or even admit – hazing.
It was a local Uzbek reporter and friend who accompanied me to the famous Osh bazaar in Kyrgyzstan’s southwest during my first visit in June 2006. The sprawling shopping complex – centuries ago a key stop on the ancient Silk Road through Central Asia – straddles the Ak-Buura River north of the city center.
Russia is putting the moves on Azerbaijan, as the South Caucasus country’s two neighbors, Georgia and Armenia, prepare to formalize partnerships with rival unions. But ever the pragmatic belle, Baku is resisting Russia’s advances.
Hear a man speaking Tajik on Moscow’s fashionable Krymskaya Embankment, and you could be forgiven for thinking he's migrant worker on break from one of the many construction sites in the area. But listen carefully and you realize that it’s a native Russian-speaker practicing a new language.
They came with bags full of cups of urine and left them in a heart shape for the prime minister to see. But this protest in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, against drug testing was not about lifestyle choices. Rather, the scores of protesters are part of a growing movement seeking the decriminalization of marijuana as a civil right.
Isabel Santos, chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, wrapped up a short visit to Kazakhstan on June 11. In talks with officials, Santos raised concerns about Astana’s track record on democracy and civil society.
Georgia plans to finalize a pact with the European Union on June 27 that would bring Tbilisi closer to Brussels. Even so, the campaign environment ahead of Georgia’s local elections suggests that the country has quite a bit of distance to cover before it reaches the standards of a European democracy.
It appears Russian President Vladimir Putin’s imperial ambitions aren’t limited to economics and politics. The master of the Kremlin also wants to advance his agenda via sports, namely with the creation of a new football super league comprising leading teams from Russia and other formerly Soviet republics.