Students: heads you lose, tails you lose

Are today's students in the former Soviet Union too political or not political enough? Two recent stories from Uzbekistan and Russia suggest that either way, students will end up being criticised: you're damned if you do care and you're damned if you don't. In Uzbekistan, the government has introduced a new moral code - no …

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20 years on: human rights in the post-Soviet countries

I'd like to recommend a great article I've just read, The Soviet Fall and the Arab Spring. By an experienced human rights researcher, the article provides six ideas "about what has to happen after the revolution to make change stick". The six ideas are: 1. There is nothing inevitable about transitions to democracy 2. Guard …

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Developments in Central Asian higher education, part 3: Kazakhstan

Today, a brief overview of the current situation for higher education in Kazakhstan, as part of my monthly series reviewing the Central Asian countries. Click on the links to read earlier posts on Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Of the Central Asian countries, Kazakhstan in particular has embraced the concept of a market-driven higher education system and …

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Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer

This week, four stories that at first glance appear quite different... The UK's Telegraph has featured a number of articles on Central Asia recently, and  the report I'd like to bring to your attention now is about the opening of a new British Embassy in Kyrgyzstan. This is, as the newspaper notes, 'despite budget cutbacks'. …

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Developments in Central Asian higher education, part 2: Kyrgyzstan

Today, Kyrgyzstan swore in Almazbek Atambayev as its new President, the first peaceful transition of power in the country. Молодцы! This was an historic moment and widely reported: I liked stories on MSNBC and the ever-reliable BBC, as well as reporting by 24, a Kyrgyz news agency (in Russian). The UAE-based newspaper The Nation rightly praises the …

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Political myth or reality in Kazakhstan?

I was interested to read a story on the American Washington Post website about the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The article seems intended to be light-hearted but I actually found it a little contradictory. The title makes it clear that the newspaper believes Nazarbayev to be authoritarian and paints a negative picture of his style …

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Straws on a camel’s back

The "aeroplane affair" between Russia and Tajikistan, as I suspected, shows no sign of landing (excuse the pun) anytime soon. Konstantin Parshin has - again - written an excellent article summarising what's happened over the last few days, so if you're not following this story elsewhere (and even if you are), do read what he has to …

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