I started off this week with a report that labor migrants to Russia, which primarily come from Central Asia, may face a tougher language, history and civics exam come summer. This is a big problem, as the proximity of relatively easy work in Russia has kept states like Tajikistan from actually dealing with their troubled economies and unemployment issues.
Tuesday marked the 5 year anniversary of Kyrgyzstan’s unfortunately unnamed second revolution. and last week was the 10 year anniversary of the Tulip Revolution. I’m not the only one who thinks Kyrgyzstan hasn’t lived up to the hype. (My piece was published earlier, but #TokyoTime says different. Read both!)
As hinted at last week, I did end up writing a review of Farzana Marie’s Load Poems Like Guns: Women’s Poetry from Herat, Afghanistan. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a poetry-fan, the first half of the book is history giving great context on the subsequent poetry, which is heartwrenching, beautiful.
I wrote about Kazakhstan some too, to add to the tourism theme from last week. Seems South Korea is all about helping Kazakhstan build theme parks. The embassy tweeted my article, I thought that was pretty cool.
Then I saw that the State Department Office of the Inspector General released the findings of an investigation of the U.S. embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The news isn’t great. Some numbers: over 50 percent of the embassy’s budget comes from the Pentagon, including $10 million for Special Operations Command alone.
Thursday Turkmenistan’s Minsk embassy website was hacked by apparent supporters of ISIS. The neutral state has been making a lot of noise about ISIS on its Afghan border. Whether it’s actually ISIS or the Taliban or someone else is very much unclear. The Minsk embassy site is down still for maintenance.
Russia’s been working on its ‘pivot’ east, with Medvedev visiting Vietnam and Thailand this week. A few deals were settled, a big deal was promised this quarter. Thailand is just happy to have a friend and Vietnam likes that Russia makes China a little nervous. Even if Russia isn’t actually interested in challenging China so much as diversifying because it’s economic relations with Europe are in the trash over Crimea.
Closed out the week with the quiet inauguration of Islam Karimov as president of Uzbekistan. As my colleague commented when reading over the piece, it’s like Orwell meets Monty Python in Uzbekistan. Not a bad comparison.
That’s all from me this week. Nailed down the interview for Issue 6 and next week the pieces will start coming in so I’ll be writing less myself.