When Osh’s Uzbek Music and Drama Theater opened its 94th season last month, the actors looked nervously into the audience. They had not celebrated an opening night for three years, since before the theater was partially burned amid 2010’s ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan.
Democratization activists in Kyrgyzstan are worrying about a roll-back of basic freedoms after a Bishkek court prohibited a film festival from screening a Dutch documentary about homosexual Muslim men.
On a recent morning in Bishkek’s 12th “microdistrict,” a neighborhood of Soviet-era housing blocks a little past their prime, a small beauty salon was overflowing with chiseled young men sporting carefully cultivated stubble and statuesque women in short shorts.
Folklore scholar David Hunt has assembled an anthology of stories that present a fascinating side of the Caucasus rarely encountered by diplomats or students of international relations. He also renders a great service with this collection, culled from 19th and 20th century Russian ethnographic archives and field interviews.
Turkey's Ministry of Culture is playing hardball with some of the world’s most prestigious museums. The ministry is refusing to lend historical artifacts to leading museums in the United States and the United Kingdom until they return antiquities that Turkish officials maintain were illegally taken from Turkey.
Master electrician Kahraman Yildiz produces from his pocket a folded piece of scrappy paper. Its distressed state disguises the fact that it contains the phrases that are designed to illuminate Istanbul’s mosques during the holy month of Ramadan and inspire the city’s Islamic faithful.
The music video is all one take. Standing behind a podium bearing the state seal of Kyrgyzstan, wearing a felt kalpak hat and armor like the national epic hero Manas, a masked figure hectors the audience over a bounding beat: