How Central Asian Migrants Experience Politics in Turkey and Russia: A Comparison

by Jeanne Féaux de La Croix

JeanneWebPicHow might moving abroad for work influence your political ideas and ideals? How might migrating from Central Asia to Turkey or Russia in particular, change a person’s ideas about political leadership, nationalism or religion? This January, a group of distinguished scholars, activists and migrants met in Istanbul to find answers. Russia and Turkey are popular destinations for citizens of the ex-Soviet Central Asian republics; as elsewhere, migration figures are hotly debated. It is clear however that several million Central Asians temporarily or permanently settle in Russia, while Turkey is sought out by a few hundred thousand. Tajikistan holds the sad record of being among the top three nations most dependent on remittances. Continue reading

Bans Will Not Stop Women from Migrating

by Susan Thieme

PastedGraphic-2-1Kyrgyzstan’s parliament is currently debating whether to impose a ban on young women aged under 23 leaving the country without their parents’ written consent. While at first glance the government’s concern about their citizens abroad seems well-intentioned, experiences from other countries such as Nepal show that curtailing women’s mobility is not only discriminatory but has also failed to reduce the exploitation and trafficking of women.by Susan Thieme

PastedGraphic-2-1Kyrgyzstan’s parliament is currently debating whether to impose a ban on young women aged under 23 leaving the country without their parents’ written consent. While at first glance the government’s concern about their citizens abroad seems well-intentioned, experiences from other countries such as Nepal show that curtailing women’s mobility is not only discriminatory but has also failed to reduce the exploitation and trafficking of women. Continue reading

The Invisible Tenants

by Kishimjan Osmonova

kishimjanAstana, the new capital of Kazakhstan since 1997, has become a major migrant destination attracting thousands of internal as well as external migrants from neighboring Central Asian states. The city’s population tripled in the last decade making it number around one million residents today. The migrants are a diverse group with different backgrounds, professions, and places of origin. Most of them are young and ambitious people seeking better opportunities in the futuristic capital, which is referred as the City of the Future. Inspired by the capital’s shimmering look and construction boom many are determined to stay and create their prosperous future. Realizing this goal is not easy and one of the problems they face is propiska. Continue reading

Words of Love and Poetry

by Jesko Schmoller

Schmoller_op150It is still early in the morning and sitting by the train window, I cannot see further than a few meters, as a dense layer of fog hangs over the meadows. Eventually the sun breaks through, causing the autumn leaves to shine in bright green, yellow and red. I am on my way to the East German city of Leipzig, an unlikely place to meet a master musician from Uzbekistan. Having arrived at the station and approaching my destination, I pass low buildings of pre-fabricated slabs. Taking in some of the street life I see two teenage boys ride by on their skateboards; Ska Punk music booms from a parked car. Ari Babakhanov, the man who appears from the entrance to one of the blocks, may – with his almost 80 years of age and interest in traditional music – be an exceptional resident in the neighbourhood. And while it is typical in Uzbek homes to come across a form of protection against the evil eye, when entering Babakhanov’s flat I notice a mezuzah (small case containing verses from the Torah) in the doorframe. Continue reading

Fragile Normality: Armenians Living in Baku

by Melanie Krebs

Melanie Krebs“To Yerevan?” Sitting in her small kitchen in one of the few remaining Soviet apartment blocks in the center of Baku, my friend Alena (name changed) looked at me as if this was the most stupid, even offensive, idea she ever heard. “I would rather die than go there!” She had already demonstrated that this was no mere figure of speech, being one of the Armenians who stayed in Baku after January 1990 when − after a nationalist rally about the Karabakh-question − pogroms against the Armenian minority broke out in Baku, injuring and killing a still unknown number of people and destroying Armenian houses. Continue reading