Soccer's 2014 FIFA World Cup came to an exciting conclusion on July 13 with Germany's 1-0 victory over Argentina in extra time. Russian President Vladimir Putin attended the final, sitting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
Amid deteriorating relations with the West, Russian President Vladimir Putin is looking to diversify a Russian economy that is tightly linked to European markets. Fittingly, an old Soviet-era satellite state seems eager to lend a helping hand.
Judging by the long line outside the Russian Embassy in Tashkent one recent afternoon, new Russian legislation offering citizenship to Russian-speakers is prompting lots of individuals in Uzbekistan to ponder emigration. Some see a chance to escape economic woes; others, stymied by Uzbekistan’s own Byzantine bureaucracy, want to seize on an opportunity to obtain a proper passport.
There are three ways Central Asian guest workers travel to Russia, the magnet that draws millions of Kyrgyz, Tajiks and Uzbeks each year. The most expensive is by plane. Train is less pricey. Bus is cheaper still, but it’s also the slowest and most prone to scams from beginning to end.
On June 26, Russia plays Algeria in a World Cup Group H match that should determine which of the two teams moves on from group play to the round of 16. Beyond Russia’s borders, in other formerly Soviet states, there are plenty of football fans cheering for the Russian national team to win.
Aside from a famously bland brand of diplomatic rhetoric, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization represents the only major Eurasian club that caters to both Russian and Chinese interests. Yet with Moscow and Beijing presenting visibly divergent visions for economic cooperation in Central Asia, it is unclear how those competing views can be reconciled.
A new Russian law criminalizing the failure to declare foreign passports has raised fears of a fresh Kremlin crackdown on opponents at home, but Russian expatriates technically excluded from the statute are now scrambling to determine whether they must comply as well.
As it turns out, they may not be off the hook quite yet.
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.