A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘tajikistan

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

  • The Big Picture shares photos relating to the restoration of Cuban-American relations.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly talks about why she uses Twitter.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a study noting the sulfur-rich environment of protostar HH 212.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports a Chinese plan to develop a mixed fission/fusion reactor.
  • Language Log notes an example of Chinese writing in pinyin without accompanying script.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen notes the importance of Kevin Kwan’s novels about Chinese socialites.
  • Language Hat reports on an effort to save the Nuu language of South Africa.
  • Languages of the World reports on Urum, the Turkic language of Pontic Greeks.
  • Discover‘s Out There reports on the oddities of Pluto.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla explains why the New Horizons data from Pluto is still being processed.
  • Spacing Toronto reports from a Vancouver porch competition.
  • Towelroad notes a married gay man with a child denied Communion at his mother’s funeral.
  • Window on Eurasia notes racism in Russia, looks at Tajikistan’s interest in the killing of its citizens in Russia, suggests Belarus is on the verge of an explosion, and examines Mongolian influence in Buryatia.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • Centauri Dreams argues that humans have a deep-seated instinct to explore.
  • Crooked Timber looks at how Greek debt is a political problem.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes an unsuccessful search for gas giant exoplanets around a white dwarf and looks at a new system for classifying exoplanets by mass.
  • The Dragon’s Tales looks at a report that a Patriot missile battery in Turkey got hacked.
  • Geocurrents notes how the eastern Yemeni region of Al Mahrah is seeking autonomy.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the failure of the United States’ Cuban embargo.
  • Marginal Revolution speculates as to the peculiar dynamics of political leadership in China.
  • Personal Reflections’ Jim Belshaw reflects on Greece.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes that Pluto can now be explored via Google Earth.
  • Registan looks at the decline of Tajikistan’s Islamic Renaissance Party.
  • Strange Maps shares a map that charts out the City of London and its threats.
  • Towleroad notes an upcoming vote over a civil partnership bill in Cyprus.
  • Window on Eurasia reports that most books published in Russia have small print runs.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • Centauri Dreams anticipates Ceres.
  • Crooked Timber notes Big Oil is turning against Big Coal.
  • Geocurrents shares Martin Lewis’ slides on Nigeria.
  • Language Hat, reflecting on Irish and Hebrew, considers language change and shift.
  • Language Log examines the historical American broadcast r-less accent.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money wants a good history of the Occupy movement.
  • The New APPS Blog wonders what philosophical work might look like as technology and modes of scholarship evolve.
  • The Power and Money’s Noel Maurer looks at Mexico’s political parties.
  • Towleroad notes controversy in Houston over elderly LGBT housing and relations with police.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy argues against the policies that led to Orange Telecom’s withdrawal from the Israeli occupied territories.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at Russification, notes how Russia’s satellite program depends on American imports, and looks at the military incapacity of Tajikistan versus foreign threats like ISIS.

[LINK] “Russia’s Waning Soft Power in Central Asia”

The Diplomat‘s Stephen Blank argues that in post-Soviet Central Asia, even in Kazakhstan, the Russian language is waning. This has obvious consequences for Russian soft power on the ground in the region.

[I]t has been clear for some time, and recent news reports confirm it, that the Russian language is steadily losing ground in Central Asia in educational institutions and in much of the media throughout Central Asia. To be sure, Moscow is trying to counter this, for instance with recent attempts to saturate the Kazakh media. Yet this trend towards establishing the primacy of national cultures and languages at the expense of Russian builds on twenty years of steady nationalization of the culture of these states as a matter of deliberate policy, on their deliberate efforts to maintain an openness to the larger globalizing trends in the world economy, and on a generation of growing restrictions on Russian language use in broadcasting and other media.

Of course, Central Asian leaders will not publicly attack the use of Russian language or create situations that could tempt Moscow to intervene in Central Asia on the same pretexts as it employed in Ukraine. But while the invasion of Ukraine created and still generates considerable anxiety in Central Asia, the crisis that Russia faces as a result of its action makes intervention in Central Asia a less likely prospect for the foreseeable future. Given the steep economic decline Russia has experienced following its Ukrainian adventure a third front on top of Ukraine and the North Caucasus is the last thing Moscow seeks. Nonetheless, leaders like Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev point with pride to the growth of Kazakh as the native language and more younger students are preferring English or Chinese to Russian.

In Kyrgyzstan, a recent report showed different forces at work but similar outcomes. The poverty of the Kyrgyz school system means that despite Russian claims of large-scale support for Russian-language teaching abroad, means that only 11 percent of Kyrgyz students are going to superior Russian schools in that republic. Students otherwise are not learning Russian and competent teachers are hard to find. All this, of course, generates a vicious cycle. Similarly, in December 2013, Veniamin Kaganov, Russia’s deputy education minister, was quoted in Tass as saying that the number of Russian speakers had fallen by 100 million since the break up of the Soviet Union. Neither is this outcome unique to Kyrgyzstan or Central Asia. Although globalization certainly plays a role here, all these states have taken serious policy steps since 1991 to create a stronger sense of national identity among their peoples, a policy line that inevitably translates into privileging native languages over Russian and English and now Chinese over it as well.

This outcome strongly suggests that while state support for the propagation of he Russian language abroad is a point in Russia’s 2009 national security strategy, Moscow is apparently steadily if somewhat unobtrusively failing to achieve its goals. And this testifies to a continuing failure to actualize Russia’s soft power despite an enormous state investment. The manifestations of this failure may be quiet and not immediately visible but they do point to the steady erosion over time of Russian power of all kinds in Central Asia, although its military capabilities there remain potentially formidable.

[LINK] “Ruble’s Rout Breeds Uncertainty for Central Asian Migrants”

The Inter Press Service hosts a multiply-authored Eurasianet article talking about the impact of the Russian economic slowdown on Central Asian migrant workers. (The lure of access to the Russian labour market may have been raised as a way to seduce migrant-exporting Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to join the Eurasian Union.)

According to Russia’s ambassador to Uzbekistan, there are about three million Uzbek labour migrants in Russia, the most from any Central Asian country. Others estimate the number of Uzbeks could be twice that.

Unofficial estimates put their remittances in 2013 at the value of roughly a quarter of Uzbekistan’s GDP. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are even more dependent on labour migrants, with remittances contributing the equivalent of 30 percent and roughly 50 percent to their economies, respectively.

Data from Russia’s Central Bank shows that the funds Uzbeks send home dipped nine percent year-on-year during the third quarter of 2014. Analysts predict the fall will continue. The Russian business daily Kommersant estimates that remittances fell 35 percent month-on-month in October alone.

That was before the ruble, which has steadily fallen since Russian troops seized Crimea in February, nosedived earlier in December. Thanks to Western sanctions, the low price of oil, and systemic weaknesses in Vladimir Putin’s style of crony capitalism, the currency has lost roughly 50 percent against the dollar this year. Most migrants convert their rubles into dollars to send home.

“My salary was 18,000 rubles a month, which several months ago would be equivalent to 500 dollars. Now, it is less than 300 dollars,” Sherzod, a 29-year-old from the Ferghana Valley who was working at a shop in Samara, told EurasiaNet.org.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 30, 2014 at 10:20 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • blogTO shares pictures of the stark modernism intended for Toronto’s subway stations.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly notes problems with the American mass media’s coverage of inequality.
  • Centauri Dreams shares Andrew Lepage’s essay on how, judging by radius and theoretical models, many of the supposedly Earth-like planets discovered are likely much more massive.
  • Cody Delistraty links to his essay at The Atlantic talking about why people tell stories.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining nearby red dwarf/brown dwarf binary WISE J072003.20-084651.2.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that Scottish separatism is still going strong.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ Edward Hugh notes the steady deterioration of the Japanese economy.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that Apple is worth more than the entire Russian stock market.
  • Language Hat examines the etymology of “fair dinkum”.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the terrible Japanese treatment, in history and in life, of comfort women.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the sustained territorial expansion of Russia.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer argues that Iraqi Kurdistan is likely to declare independence quite soon.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog shares a table showing population growth in select major world countries since 1820.
  • Spacing Toronto makes the case for humanizing the Toronto skyline by giving its towers nicknames.
  • Towleroad notes that Nicolas Sarkozy would like to repeal France’s same-sex marriage law, and looks at gay American director Lee Daniels.
  • Window on Eurasia looks at Russia’s fragile system of government, considers the fall of the Berlin Wall from a Russian perspective as a new partition of Europe, looks at reaction to a call to shift Ukrainian to a Latin alphabet, suggests Russian subsidies to Belarus may soon come to an end, and looks at radicalism among Tajik labour migrants in Russia.
  • Yorkshire Ranter Alex Harrowell disbelieves rumours of an alleged Labour revolt.

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

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

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