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[LINK] “How Alexander Sodiqov was freed following espionage charges”

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CBC’s Jennifer Clibbon reports on the circumstances behind the release of University of Toronto graduate student Alex Sodiqov from detention in Tajikistan on charges of treason. The academic community, including Sodiqov’s adviser Edward Schatz, fought for his liberation and won.

[Sodiqov's] fate galvanized scholars around the world because they felt it signals a chill for scholarly research in the former Soviet sphere. They set up a global petition, signed by thousands, to lobby the Tajik government.

“In the past you’d get a message that you’re in dangerous territory. Now there’s no warning that it’s going to come,” Sodiqov told CBC News.”They are blaming foreign governments for things they can’t control.”

At the University of Toronto, Schatz and other graduate students set up a website, produced a video, gave interviews to the media, and used social media to post updates on Sodiqov’s case.” Their hashtag, #freealexsodiqov, kind of went viral,” said Swerdlow, in an interview from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

“Schatz was strategic,” says Tracy MacDonald, a professor of Russian history at McMaster University. “He never let it go. He kept the campaign public. It would have been embarrassing for the Tajik government had anything happened to Alex while in custody.”

[. . .]

Two weeks ago, the Tajik secret police in Dushanbe called up Sodiqov and said he was now free to return to Canada. “I was shocked,” he said.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 1, 2014 at 10:56 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • blogTO lists five things Toronto could learn from Barcelona.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to one paper analyzing the distribution of methane in Titan’s atmosphere, a news item suggesting the survival of some Ediacaran fauna in the deep ocean, and expresses concern about the course of the war in eastern Ukraine.
  • Eastern Approaches considers the political complexities of the Slovak national uprising in the Second World War in modern Czechoslovakia.
  • Far Outliers notes the complaints of Tsar Nicholas I in 1853, on the eve of the Crimean War, about Europe.
  • Joe. My. God. has a photo of the lineup in New York City for the release of the iPhone 6.
  • Language Hat analyses the etymology of the Scots Gaelic word “geas”, as used in Charlie Stross’ laundry novels.
  • Marginal Revolution warns Scotland and the United Kingdom could face a currency crisis if Scotland leaves.
  • The Planetary Society’s Emily Lakdawalla examines the final years of the Cassini mission int he Saturn system.
  • Registan examines traficking on the Pamir Highway connecting Tajikistan to Afghanistan.
  • Spacing Toronto has a photo of the CNE’s Orbiter.
  • The Speed River Journal’s Van Waffle writes at length about why and yhow he writes.
  • Strange Maps shares an early 20th century map of the city of Portland, divided according to moral depravity by social reformers.
  • Torontoist describes Copenhagen’s bicycle skyway.
  • Towleroad notes controversy around a Toronto-based Pakistani author’s children’s book about a child and a gay uncle.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the decline of the proportion of ethnic Russians in parts of Siberia, and suggests Russian sponsorship of the war in Ukraine makes it all the less likely that Ukrainians will care about ethnic Russian concerns post-war.

[NEWS] Some Tuesday links

  • The Globe and Mail notes that the Ukrainian revolution isn’t so popular in Ukraine’s second city of Kharkiv, largely Russophone and Rusasophile.
  • Al Jazeera profiles the first generation of children born into the large ex-Yugoslav community in the American city of St. Louis and examines the ongoing persecution of Sikhs in Afghanistan.
  • CBC observes uproar on Prince Edward Island about changes in employment insurance requiring people in the more prosperous area of Charlottetown to work more to qualify, and reports on a worrying polls suggesting half of Québec’s non-Francophones are considering leaving the province.
  • National Geographic chronicles the stress on water reserves in Jordan placed by the huge influx of Syrian refugees.
  • The New York Times features an op-ed suggesting that the European Union should signal to Ukraine that membership is possible.
  • Open Democracy notes worries in Tajikistan that the withdrawal of foreign troops in Afghanistan will leave it exposed to instability there.
  • New Europe observes that, in fact, hordes of Romanians and Bulgarians haven’t overwhelmed the United Kingdom.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • BlogTO notes that the old Carnegie library at Queen and Lisgar, in my old neighbourhood of West Queen West or Parkdale, is going to become a theatre centre.
  • Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait is glad there isn’t a star as spectacularly unstable as EZ Canis Majoris in our neighbourhood.
  • Patrick Cain links to his Global News debunking of the myth that American citizens living in Canada are often wealthy expatriates.
  • Centauri Dreams examines the concept of superhabitable planets, noting among other things that K-class orange dwarfs like Alpha Centauri B would be great.
  • D-Brief notes the sad mechanical problems of China’s Yutu moon rover.
  • The Dragon’s Tales observes evidence that the migratory Sea Peoples of ancient Egypt came from Europe.
  • At Halfway Down the Danube, Douglas Muir writes about his experiences hiking in Kosovo, with the Prizren mountaineers club.
  • Joe. My. God., Lawyers, Guns and Money, and the New APPS Blog all mourn the death of politically active folk singer Peter Seeger.
  • Language Log’s Victor Mair analyzes the evocative Chinese-language name of a Vancouver restaurant.
  • The Numerati’s Stephen Baker responds to Godwin’s Law as evoking the thoughts of people who can’t express themselves.
  • Registan links to anthropologist Sarah Kendzior’s argument that Central Asia studies, once dynamic and vital, have gone into decay as people have stopped paying attention to the region.
  • Savage Minds shares Haitian-American anthropologist Gina Athena Ulysse’s writing about her creative process.
  • Window on Eurasia notes a report that Tajikistan’s government is unhappy with Tajiks who add Russian endings (“ov”, et cetera) to their names.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Acts of Minor Treason’s Andrew Barton photographs the ever-changing and increasingly condo-ized intersection of Queen Street West with Dufferin.
  • James Bow points to a McDonald’s in Scarborough that appears for all the world to be abandoned. (Suburbia can be a wasteland.)
  • Centauri Dreams notes that astronomers have ingeniously managed to determine the characteristics of the atmosphere of exoplanet GJ3470b, a hot Neptune closely orbiting a red dwarf.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that South Asia was repopulated by migrants from Africa after the Toba volcanic explosion.
  • GNXP takes a look at some interesting genetic analysis of Caribbean populations.
  • Joe. My. God. notes, with others, the irony of anti-Castro Cuban-American Marco Rubio defending the same homophobic policies that Castro would have advanced.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money does not think that internships can be defended.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen and The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer both note that Honduras seems interested in charter cities. The latter doesn’t think much will come of it.
  • Elsewhere at The Power and the Money, Noel Maurer observes that Colombia is actually a very close ally of the United States and sees, in the relationship of Brazil with an Ecuador that has tried to harass Brazilian companies, the birth of a Brazilian hegemony in South America.
  • Torontoist notes that ambitious plans for expanding St. Lawrence Market North have been sharply downgraded.
  • Window on Eurasia notes an Uzbek writer who argues that the death of the Aral Sea will affect even upstream countries in Central Asia like Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, whether directly through environmental catastrophe or indirectly through regional tensions.

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • Beyond the Beyond’s Bruce Sterling is skeptical that plans to archive vast quantities of archived data accumulated over decades, even centuries, are going to be viable.
  • The Burgh Diaspora notes that for southern Europeans, Latin America is once again emerging as a destination–this time, the migration is of professionals seeking opportunities they can’t find at home.
  • The Dragon’s Tales’ Will Baird links to a proposal by biologists that life initially evolved in highly saline environments.
  • Democracy is still fragile in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, Eastern Approaches notes.
  • Odd placenames in Minnesota are analyzed at Far Outliers.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ Alex Harrowell notes the translation problems surrounding the Nazi term volkisch, liking one recent translator’s suggestion that “racist” works best.
  • Razib Khan at GNXP introduces readers to the historical background behind the recent ethnic conflict in Burma.
  • Itching for Eestimaa’s Guistino takes a look at same-sex marriage in Estonia.
  • Savage Minds reviews Nicholas Shaxson’s book Treasure Islands, which took a look at offshore banking centres like Cyprus.
  • Torontoist’s Kevin Plummer describes the background behind Elvis’ 1957 performances in Toronto.
  • The negative effects of mass migration to Russia from Central Asia on sending countries, especially the republics of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, are introduced at Window on Eurasia.
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