For Heghine Simonian, the memories of her 27-year-old daughter’s suffering are still raw. She can hear her daughter’s pleas for relief from the pain caused by terminal-stage breast cancer, yet no help was available -- for the simple reason she lacked access to painkillers.
When Olga Ladanova moved to Damascus 10 years ago to marry a Syrian citizen and start a family, she held on to her Kyrgyz citizenship. These days, her family credits her passport with saving their lives.
Shortly after midnight, Bishop Pitirim of Tajikistan marks the start of Easter by leading several hundred faithful outside, each carrying a burning candle, to circle The Church of St. Nicholas in Dushanbe.
With the Kremlin’s attention fixated on Ukraine, the Caucasus Emirate, a terrorist group fighting to establish an independent Islamic state in the North Caucasus, threatens to undermine Russian domestic security in new ways.
While President Serzh Sargsyan’s administration touts Armenia’s pending accession to the Russia-led Customs Union as likely to usher in an era of prosperity for the South Caucasus country, rights activists assert that when it comes to democratization, Customs Union membership means Yerevan will take “one step forward, two steps back.”
Two years ago, Steve Presnal’s dream came true when he embarked on a hunt for Siberian ibex in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan Mountains. With two friends, the 49-year-old from the US state of Wisconsin had booked a trip through an international agent who set them up with a Karakol-based hunting guide. But that guide got the three arrested.
Relative to other Central Asian states, Kyrgyzstan has a fairly free and perennially noisy domestic media scene. Even so, Kyrgyz outlets tend to be no match for Russian state-controlled media when it comes to establishing narratives for current events.
Many in Azerbaijan had entertained hopes that, following his re-election in late 2013, President Ilham Aliyev in Azerbaijan would ease repressive policies targeting free speech and the flow of information, especially on the Internet. Unfortunately, it is now clear such hopes were misplaced.
On a hillside in northeastern Kazakhstan, south of the Russian border, a simple and stark slogan looms over the city of Oskemen: “Kazakhstan,” reads the message in giant white letters arrayed across the green slope.