In early 2013, shortly after the Russian Duma approved a bill outlawing what Russian officials described as "homosexual propaganda," I spent several weeks in Bishkek interviewing local LGBT and human rights activists. The aim was to discern how Kyrgyzstan had emerged as a bright spot for LGBT activism in a region well-known for intolerance of homosexuality and gender variance.
Almost a century ago, amid the civil warfare that erupted following the collapse of the tsarist empire, a Ukrainian army led by Nestor Makhno marched under the banner, “anarchy is the mother of order.” These days, as a conflict simmers in eastern Ukraine, some Ukrainian entrepreneurs are embracing a far different motto: military necessity is the mother of market invention.
Minovar Ruzieva, 38, was an English teacher in Osh until last summer. The mother of four now sells Chinese clothes at a local bazaar. Like many other teachers in Kyrgyzstan, she could not survive on her “scant salary,” so she took unskilled work to make ends meet.
The steep decline in global oil prices is stoking angst in Kazakhstan. Experts and officials alike say the government has ample resources to grapple with fiscal surprises. The real question is whether the political will exists for the government to take necessary measures.
Ukrainians head to the polls on October 26 to vote for a new parliament. How the voting goes in the strife-torn east could go a long way toward determining whether the elections infuse enough political will into the system that Ukraine can start fulfilling the promise of the Maidan movement.
The Yerevan neighbors of parliamentarian Mher Sedrakian, a member of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, have a persistent problem with noise. But this is not about wild parties or car horns. Rather, it is about lions.
The Bishkek office that website developer Mikhail Ageev shares with three colleagues – a line of tables facing out over the city panorama, where each hunches over a laptop – is so minimalist it looks like it could be abandoned at a moment's notice. “People in our line of work often talk about leaving [Kyrgyzstan],” said Ageev.
Twelve-year-old Dato’s dream is to become a traditional Georgian dancer. “Acharuli is my favorite [dance],” he said, as he lifted his arms and chin, and looked out at an imaginary audience. “It is difficult, but I practice every day.”
Pensioner Jyparkul Karaseyitova says she cannot afford meat anymore. At her local bazaar in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, the price for beef has jumped 9 percent in the last six weeks. And she is not alone feeling the pain of rising inflation. Butcher Aigul Shalpykova says her sales have fallen 40 percent in the last month.
For weeks, idle Turkish tanks have been watching from the hills in southeastern Turkey as Islamic State forces pound the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane, just a few hundred meters across the border. That lassitude has prompted many Westerners to voice doubts about Turkey’s commitment to eradicating the Islamic State.