Almost five years ago, as his village in northern Kyrgyzstan endured daily power outages, rays of light always emitted from Sabyr Kurmanov’s garage. They came from his egg incubator, a 12-volt contraption powered by something he and his neighbors have in abundance – wind.
In 2010, Kyrgyzstan tried to promote good governance and reduce corruption by attaching public watchdogs to major ministries and state agencies. Almost three years later, the watchdogs are still functioning, but many express frustration about bureaucratic resistance that hinders their ability to do their jobs.
For many Armenians, the sight of a grownup riding a bicycle in public used to be cause for laughter and stares. As elsewhere in the South Caucasus, the essence of hipster transportation came via a high-powered engine, not via two wheels on pedal-power. But now, that perspective has begun to change. Slowly but surely, bicycles – at least in the capital, Yerevan – are becoming the new cool.
Ochir Damchaa chuckles as he drives his second-hand Toyota sedan through the alleyways of Nalaikh, a ramshackle town 35 kilometers east of Ulaanbaatar: “There’re just two kinds of jobs here: drive a taxi, or dig coal.”
Whenever Ilya Beruashvili hears his dog bark, he knows the Russians are at the gate.
For the past five years, Beruashvili, 53, who lives on the outskirts of the Georgian village of Ditsi, has watched from his windows as Russian soldiers stationed in the neighboring separatist territory of South Ossetia have patrolled the fields he used to farm.
At a cabinet meeting in mid-July, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev lashed out at the European Parliament for supposedly conducting a “dirty campaign” against Baku. The shrill tone of Aliyev’s comments indicate that European pressure on Azerbaijan to respect basic rights is stinging the Aliyev administration.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is critical of Egypt’s military for unseating the country's first democratically elected president, the Muslim-Brotherhood-backed Mohammed Morsi. At the same time, the July 3 coup in Egypt appears to be encouraging Erdoğan to maintain his own get-tough policies in Turkey, analysts say.
Now that Kazakhstani oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov has been apprehended, banking officials in Kazakhstan are striving to recover as much as they can of the $6 billion he is accused of embezzling. Meanwhile, officials in Astana are pressing for Ablyazov’s extradition while his supporters contend he would not receive a fair trial in Kazakhstan.
Olga Gotovshikova stares out at Lake Issyk-Kul from her shore-front guesthouse. Last year she could only dream of a minute like this to rest; the place was packed with 60 tourists at a time, all summer long. But now she sits anxiously in the deserted guesthouse.
The recent dismissals of several high-profile journalists in Turkey are sending a clear message to all those working for mass media outlets: criticize Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his government's policies at your own risk.