Not Quite the Silly Season: Recent Stories from Central Asia
We have MSM articles on topics we have touched on here: the New York Times, for example, takes on the ‘returning militant’ meme. Mansur Mirovalev offers a lengthy firsthand account (and photo essay) of the ‘ghost buses’ that carry Uzbek migrant workers to Russia.
The Institute for War & Peace Reporting details the futile attempts of Turkmen NGOs to officially exist in a country where like-minded conversation – even about beekeeping – equals dissent.
At New Eurasia, blogger Orazdurdy kicks off a Tajik travelogue with his account of Khorog, the regional capital on the Afghan border. He notes:
“The bazaar is patrolled by Tajik soldiers and police officers to prevent any backdoor drug deals. Not that this is the most likely spot for a deal to go down: the Panj River, which separates this region from Afghanistan, is at certain spots so narrow that you could throw a bag of heroin across the border. Patrols of young soldiers with Kalashnikovs trekking the entire 370-kilometer border isn’t going to do much to prevent this, either. And check this out: locals say (on the down low, of course) that they can pocket $1500 within an hour for a kilo of heroin (notwithstanding that the same kilo in London would cost £45,000).”
Along these lines, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad reports on smuggling on the Tajik-Afghan border, providing further details on the flow of drugs north and stream of guns south.
RFE/RL reports on the suspicious deaths of a number of celebrated Kazakh athletes, and the belief that organised crime groups are to blame.
And finally, ForeignPolicy.com has determined the World’s Worst Daughters – and small surprise, Gulnora Karimova of Uzbekistan heads the list.
While it may be silly season here in the UK, I haven’t worked out yet the Central Asian equivalent of the fame-hungry squirrel or killer slime – but then, August isn’t over yet. Let’s see what next week brings!