After appearing in Kyrgyzstan and Chechnya, leaflets expressing support for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Djokhar Tsarnaev have now emerged in central Kazakhstan.
The Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency reports that fliers featuring Tsarnaev's picture, along with a note reading "Pray for Djokhar" in English, had been found plastered in a pedestrian underpass in Karaganda. Police have said they will charge anyone caught pasting the posters on public property.
"Should the individuals who put up the leaflets be identified, they will face an administrative offence for damaging public property. Plastering announcements and other posters is a sign of littering," Interfax-Kazakhstan quoted the regional police press service as saying.
Earlier Interfax reported that similar leaflets had appeared in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, and in Russia's Chechnya region, Tsarnaev’s ancestral homeland.
Leaflets found on an avenue named after Russian President Vladimir Putin in downtown Grozny, the Chechen capital, called on people to raise funds for Tsarnaev and his family. Those fliers explained that Tsarnaev was in serious condition in a prison hospital in the United States and that he needed medical and legal aid. "Djokhar's parents appeal for your assistance," the posters said.
Although many voters and observers contend that the vote, like Armenia's February presidential election, was not crystal-clean, no commentators seem to believe it was an outright opposition victory. The official results left President Serzh Sargsyan's Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) with a robust 55.89 percent of the vote. Billionaire Gagik Tsarukian's Prosperous Armenia Party, a longtime political fence-sitter, tagged behind in second place with just over 23 percent.
Hovhannisian's Heritage Party reportedly plans to demand a recount, but details were not immediately available.
The United Kingdom has denied entry to a Kazakh artist who does not have hands because he cannot provide fingerprints, he says.
Anti-nuclear activist Karipbek Kuyukov was due to travel to Great Britain last month to attend a conference and show his paintings, he told Tengrinews.
“I was denied a visa on the grounds that my fingerprints were of unsatisfactory quality. I was asked for additional fingerprints, although I physically could not give them any fingerprints. My sister who was supposed to accompany me received a visa because they took her fingerprints. Why do they need fingerprints anyway?” Kuyukov told Tengrinews. Photos he provided the embassy clearly showed he is disabled, he added, noting that he did not have any problems when he successfully applied for an American visa last year.
The British Consulate in Almaty did not respond to requests for comment on May 6 within the time frame promised. Repeated calls to the British Embassy in Astana went unanswered.
Kuyukov, 44, was born near the Soviet Union’s largest nuclear test site, at Semipalatinsk in what is now northeastern Kazakhstan, and attributes his disability -- he was born without hands -- to the radioactive fallout from the tests.
French military logisticians at the Dushanbe airport. (photo: http://www.defense.gouv.fr/)
The small French air detachment in Dushanbe is leaving Tajikistan, as France carries out its withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Operational Transport Group started pulling out on April 15, and will complete its withdrawal from the airport by July. A small engineering unit working on the resurfacing of the airport's runway will remain until next year, according to a statement from the French Ministry of Defense.
The small base has operated since 2002. (And small means small: 50 meters by 250 meters, as EurasiaNet's David Trilling noted in a 2009 photo essay on the detachment.) It has hosted between 170 and 230 French soldiers who work on supply and logistics for their compatriots in Afghanistan, and occasionally French multirole fighter jets used for operations in Afghanistan.
The French departure from Tajikistan is, not surprisingly, the result of the French disengagement from Afghanistan, said Florent de Saint Victor, a French military blogger, in an email interview with The Bug Pit. "The closure is linked to the end of the last step for the French troops withdrawal from Afghanistan (there are still some French troops - less than 800 troops - for logistics and training mission with the Afghan National Army)," de Saint Victor said.
A cup of the real Turkish coffee, at Mandabatmaz in Istanbul
When water, finely-ground, dark roasted coffee and sugar are put together in a long-handled coffee put and brought to a near boil, is the result "Turkish coffee" or "Greek coffee"? That question, of course, is one that has been vexing the Middle East, Balkans and the Mediterranean for decades.
Inspired by a recent visit to Mandabatmaz, perhaps Istanbul's finest maker of Turkish coffee, reporter Joanna Kakkissis wrote an interesting post for NPR's food-oriented blog, The Salt, in which she took a look at how the politics of Turkish/Greek coffee. From her post:
....Ordering Turkish coffee today doesn't go over well in some Balkan or eastern Mediterranean countries that were once part of the Ottoman Empire — even if their preparation of the coffee is remarkably similar.
In Armenia, where the Ottomans led a genocide against more than a million people between 1915 and 1923, it's Armenian coffee. In Sarajevo, Bosnia, I once ordered a "Turkish coffee" only to be corrected by the irritated waiter: "You mean a Bosanska kafa" — a Bosnian coffee. In Cyprus, which the Turks invaded in 1974, it's a kypriakos kafes — Cypriot coffee. (Except in the northern third of the island, which Turkey has occupied since 1974.)
In Greece, where I live and which has a tortured history with Turkey, you order an elliniko — a Greek coffee.
"It wasn't always this way," says Albert Arouh, a Greek food scholar who writes under a pen name, Epicurus. "When I was a kid in the 1960s, everyone in Greece called it Turkish coffee."
With less than six months to go before the country's presidential elections, a pornographic web site containing content that targets opposition politicians and other public figures critical of the government has been created in Azerbaijan.
Called İctimayi Palatka (Public Tent), the site features hard-porn videos allegedly showing prominent individuals ranging from Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan leader Ali Kerimli to investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova* supposedly engaged in sexual intercourse.
While it is clear that the individuals shown in the videos do not represent the people named ( the materials appear to have been filched from foreign porn sites ), the video captions create a different impression.
The site, launched over a month ago, does not contain information about its owners and employees; the “contacts” section lists only a Gmail address.
No one has yet taken responsibility for İctimayi Palatka and its content.
Interference into private lives and the distribution of pornographic materials via media and the Internet are both criminal offenses under Azerbaijan’s Criminal Code (Article 163 and Article 242), which carry prison terms of several years.
The General Prosecutor’s office, however, has not yet opened a criminal investigation and has not responded publicly to the illegal site. Spokesperson Eldar Sultanov told EurasiaNet.org that the office has no information about İctimayiPalatka, and declined to comment further.
The portal appears to function and be constantly updated without problems.
KC-135s on the tarmac at the Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan. (photo: U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Brett Clashman)
A U.S. Air Force refueling jet has crashed in Kyrgyzstan near the Manas air base, according to Kyrgyzstan's Ministry of Emergency Situations (MChS).
The plane exploded in mid-air, said a local official, reports Kloop.kg: "The former mayor of the Panfilov region Taalaybek Sydykov said in an interview with Kloop.kg, that... 'Residents of the region who were working in the fields say that there was an explosion in the air and the plane fell behind the mountains.'" A couple of twitterusers reported the same.
An MChS official told AFP that the plane, apparently KC-135 Stratotanker, crashed after taking off:
"According to my information, the plane broke up into three pieces. Information on the dead or wounded is being clarified. All the rescue services have gone to the scene," the ministry's press secretary Abdisharip Bekilov said.
The plane crashed near the mountain village of Chaldybar, around 200 kilometres from the capital Bishkek and close to the border with Kazakhstan, the emergency ministry spokesman said.
Information about who may have been on board is still sketchy, but CA-News reports, citing MChS sources, that there were five crew members on the flight.
The entanglement of two Kazakhstani students in the Boston Marathon bombing investigation is placing the Central Asian nation’s golden youth in the spotlight.
The two students –Dias Kadyrbaev and Azamat Tazhayakov -- are facing federal charges that they obstructed the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15 by allegedly disposing of a computer and backpack belonging to accused bomber Djokhar Tsarnaev. A hearing in their case is scheduled for May 14. If convicted, they face five years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines. The Kazakhstani pair and Tsarnaev were constant companions for much of the past two years while taking classes at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, roughly 60 miles south of Boston, according to a criminal complaint filed in US District Court on May 1.
While the bombing investigation is ongoing, Kadyrbaev and Tazhayakov already seem to be guilty of egregious errors in judgment, including some that predate their alleged attempted cover-up of Tsarnaev’s alleged involvement in the bombings.
Kadyrbaev and Tazhayakov were the sons of privilege, apparently able to study in the United States not because of their academic acumen but because their parents had attained wealth and status back in their native Kazakhstan. The Kazakhstani government has spent a considerable amount of money over the past 20 years under its Bolashak Program to send its best and brightest abroad to obtain a higher education. But officials decided in 2010 to stop offering Bolashak scholarships to undergraduates. Thus, when Kadyrbaev and Tazhayakov arrived to begin the fall semester in 2011 at UMass-Dartmouth, it seems as though they were dependent on their parents to foot the bill.
Georgia is in discussions with Azerbaijan to jointly produce Su-25 close air support jets, Azerbaijani military sources have told the news agency APA:
Military sources told APA that Georgia plans to produce the modernized versions of SU-25 aircrafts at the Tbilisi Aerospace Manufacturing Company (TAM). Tbilisi has addressed Azerbaijan for financing the project and establishing joint production. The Azerbaijani military circles welcomed the proposal, but the government will make a final decision.
If the project is implemented, certain part of the aircrafts may be produced at the military plants of Azerbaijan.
There doesn't seem to be any news on this from any Georgian sources. (The last reports about Georgia-Azerbaijan defense deals, about Azerbaijan possibly buying Georgian APCs, came only from Georgian sources, for what it's worth.)
TAM was renationalized by the Georgian government in 2010 after having been privatized in 2004. And it was the original manufacturer of the Su-25 during the Soviet era.
This news, of course, comes as a number of reports suggest that Moscow may be stopping the sale of military aircraft that Azerbaijan had been trying to buy from Russia. But those deals were for Su-27, Su-30 and MiG-31s, and the Su-25 carries out a different mission than those. And it's also not made clear here whether or not Azerbaijan is the intended customer or not. So it may or may not be connected. But it does seem evidence of slowly growing ties between Azerbaijan and Georgia.
Iranian police have arrested a visiting Azerbaijani scholar, prompting a fresh round in the ongoing ping-pong of diplomatic notes between the two Muslim Shi'a neighbors.
On April 30, Iranian security police raided a gathering of literati in Tabriz, the capital of Iran's predominantly ethnic Azeri northwest, confiscating books and making arrests, APA reported. Among the detained was Khalida Khalid, an Azerbaijani researcher of oriental literature, who had traveled to Iran on a research trip.
Her assistant, also an Azerbaijani, was arrested along with several Iranian writers who promote Azeri culture and the rights of Iran's Azeri minority, the country's largest.
Baku has demanded an explanation from Tehran; the whereabouts of the two arrested Azerbaijanis remain unknown.
Tabriz long has been the site of frictions between the two Muslim neighbors, who routinely vacillate between mutual arrests and mutual declarations of friendship. Last year, two Azerbaijani poets were arrested in the city on spy charges and spent four months in prison.
But, this time, another ingredient has been added to the mix.
Although no direct line has been drawn between the mission to Israel and the Tabriz arrests -- and direct lines don't happen much in either Azerbaijani or Iranian affairs -- the timing of the incident leaves the field wide open to interpretation.