Thursday, December 28, 2006

Report #33: Happy Holidays!!!

It is a great time - all the great holidays are celebrated at around the same time: Christmases (Western and Orthodox), Eid ul-Adha (Kurman Ait), and New Year.

Jañí jílíñízdar menen! Aytíñar maarek bolsun! (Kyrgyz should eventually switch back to Latin.)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Report #32: Earthquake in Bishkek

At around 2 am Bishkek time as I was going to bed, there was an earthquake of 5.7-point magnitude. It shook pretty strongly for about 4-5 second. Book shelves, lamps, my table with a computer were rattling. I even got up and stood in the corner of my room, as we were all tought during earthquakes.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Report #31: March of Dictators

Joke of the Day: Today (Dec 21) Joseph Stalin is organizing a Birthday party in hell. He asked Pinochet to help out with the organization and wanted Turkmenbashi to be his guest of honor. He departed first thing in the morning.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Report #30: 24th Birthday

On December 2nd I celebrated my 24th birthday. It was a good day. In the morning I went to open the snowboarding season in Bishkek. By 4 pm of non-stop snowboarding, I could not feel my legs. But, it was great. Then we had a family dinner with plof. Afterwards, I went to listen to rock in a new bar in Bishkek. Thanks for all the friends who wrote, called or personally congratulated me on my birthday.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Report #29: Borat - Cheap Advertisement for Kazakhstan

On weekends I downloaded Borat! Cultura Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. Well, the move actually makes fun of Americans and their ignorance of the world. Kazakhstan and Kazakhs should not be upset at all. In fact, no country in the world likes the way it is represented abroad. It is the cheapest advertisement for Kazakhstan. In five years everyone will forget Borat, but the name "Kazakhstan" (and Azamat, Borat's friend in the movie...) will stick.

In general, the movie is worth downloading off the internet, but does not worth paying for it.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Question #1: Who is next?

First it was Anna Politkovskya. Now it is Aleksandr Litvinenko. Who is next?

Report #28: Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Yesterday Aisuluu and I went to Nazgul and David's house for a Thanksgiving Day dinner. Great turkey! Met up with many friends I had not seen in awhile.

It has been snowing for a few days in Bishkek. I also heard that several skiing places are opening coming week. Big goal for this winter is go to Karakol, at least 3 times.

Some of you know Aida Sulaimankulova. She has great pictures. Here is one of Elnura, the new movie star.

Remember Boris took some pictures in Alamedin Gorge? Pictures below.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Report #27: A trip to mountains I missed

I should have gone on this trip. Instead I slept. It was a perfect day for a hike. Meder shared pictures from the Alamedin Gorge to make me even more jealous. He succeeded.

As you can see, it was a perfect day.

This is Elya, Meder's girlfriend. Boris, in the back, is going crazy with his Nikon. I hope he shares his pictures with us.

(L-R) Asyla, Meder, Boris, Asel (Elya's sister), and Elya.

Report #26: Wasn't there an embargo?

The Guardian: Dissidents blew American 'aid' millions on luxuries for Cuba
Richard Luscombe in Miami
Thursday November 16, 2006

Cuban dissidents who were given millions of dollars by the US government to support democracy in their homeland instead blew money on computer games, cashmere sweaters, crabmeat and chocolates, which were then sent to the island.
A scathing congressional audit of democracy assistance programmes found "questionable expenditure" by several groups funded by Washington in opposition to President Fidel Castro's rule on the communist Caribbean island.

The Miami-based Acción Democrática Cubana spent money on a chainsaw, Nintendo Game Boys and Sony PlayStations, mountain bikes, leather coats and Godiva chocolates, which the group says were all sent to Cuba. "These people are going hungry. They never get any chocolate there," Juan Carlos Acosta, the group's executive director, told the Miami Herald.

He also defended the purchase of a chainsaw he said he needed to cut a tree that had blocked access to his office in a hurricane, and said the leather jackets and cashmere sweaters were bought in a sale. "They [the auditors] think it's not cold there," Mr Acosta said. "At $30 [£16] it's a bargain because cashmere is expensive. They were asking for sweaters."
The audit analysed $65m of spending by the US Agency for International Development (USAid) from 1996 to 2005 and concluded that poor management was to blame for the waste. "There were weaknesses in agency policies and in programme office oversight, and internal control deficiencies," the report states.

None of the 36 groups that received money were identified in the report, but others admitted to the Miami Herald in advance of its publication on Wednesday that they had been investigated.

Frank Hernández-Trujillo, executive director of Grupo de Apoyo a la Democracia (Group for the Support of Democracy), said his organisation received more than $7m from USAid, a programme that has been a central part of President George Bush's policy on Cuba.

"I'll defend that until I die," Mr Hernández-Trujillo said of his decision to spend part of his group's allocation on boxes of computer games. "That's part of our job, to show the people in Cuba what they could attain if they were not under that system."

Most of the items were distributed to dissidents in Cuba by US diplomats in Havana, who were sometimes unaware what was in the shipments. The US government, however, has previously accused the Cuban government of hijacking consignments sent to its mission.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Report #25: Би-2 in Bishkek

After a long week in Bishkek, I decided to go to the live concert of Bi2, a rock band from Russia. I took around 250 pictures at the concert, and this is the selection of best of them. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Report #24: Bishkek protests

The last 7 days were mostly the time of passions. Kyrgyzstan won. I give the opposition credit for making sure that illegal activities did not happen at night. Everybody was expecing lootings, but nothing happened. In fact, only one night closer to the end of demonstration, there was a slight panic. Stored had moved out their good, long lines in groceries, etc.

Although a new constitution was signed, there remain many other issues to be solved. I hope that progressive minds in the opposition and the government will have enough guts and will power to implement deeper reforms.

I took this picture with Kyrgyz special forces and AUCA in the background. It is a keeper - the soldier in the right giving me a finger.

The picture below (courtesy of shows how tents and yurts are being removed from Alatoo square.
You can also see some excellent pictures HERE.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Report #23: Another Report?

I came accross an interesting blog - KyrgyzReport. It seems to have been launched very recently. It has a lot of the latest pictures from the current events in Kyrgyzstan.

You can also see live pictures fom Bishkek's Alatoo Square here. Pictures are updated every 4 seconds. Whoever did this is a genius.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Report #22: Search for Talent

The Economist (October 5, 2006) published an excellent Survey of Talent. This survey (not all the articles are available without subscription) analyzes the lack of educated people who have the talent to lead in the age of globalization. It looks at brain drain and migration, head-hunters, education, corporate management, population, economy, and many other important issues.

I believe everyone - government officials, university faculty or staff, young business leaders, or a talented young person planning to study abroad - will find something useful in the survey. Kyrgyz government needs to translate it into Kyrgyz and Russian and distribute it among government officials, especially the President.

If you do not have access to the newspaper, let me know and I will forward you the 15-page survey in a word file.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Report #21: My Alma Mater Going Down?

Today I came across an AUCA announcement in a local newspaper - vacancy announcement for deans of four departments: Economics, Business Administration, Software Programming, and Journalism. FOUR departments have no deans!!! How could this happen? In fact, as an alumnus and a brother of two other AUCA students, I have other questions: how is President Hurwitz dealing with the lack of faculty in other departments, at what stage is the issue with dormitory, where will AUCA be in 5, 10 years?

By the way, I saw another announcement from the Kyrgyz-Turkish Manas University, which wants to build the second dorm, cafeteria, and a gym. They have over $12 million for it.

So the question is could AUCA lose the competition with Kyrgyz-Russian Slavonic University and Kyrgyz-Turkish Manas University in preparing and more importantly in recruiting - the brightest young people of Kyrgyzstan? What AUCA is doing about it?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Report #20: Eid Prayer (Айт намаз) in Bishkek

On Tuesday, October 24, more then 50,000 people, including my father, my brother Nurbek, and myself, gathered at the old square in front of the Parliament building and the American University - Central Asia for the Eid prayer marking the end of Ramadan.

Muslims gathering together for a prayer

You could not see the end

15 years ago this would be unthinkable

Following the prayer, people shaking hands with the Mufti

The End: Going in Different Directions

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Report #19: Bazars in Kyrgyzstan

Google Earth is such a cool thing. Enjoy the satellite pictures of the two biggest bazars in Kyrgyzstan, and maybe even in Central Asia. Last week I was in Karasuu bazar. Although Dordoi looks bigger, the goods turnover in Karasuu is probably several times bigger as they trade in bulk and throughout Central Asia.

Karasuu Bazar (20 km from Osh)

Dordoi Bazar (outskirts of Bishkek)

Report #18: Hiking in Alaarcha

Two weeks ago went hiking in Alaarcha National Park and walked all the way to the Aksay Glacier. 3500-4000 meters. Proud of myself. Here are the pictures from there.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Report #17: What's Happening to Kyrgyzstan?

Lately, I have been feeling desparate and hopeless about the future of Kyrgyzstan. The whole system is rotten from within (especially because of the current/latest constitution) that even the most well-intentioned person will turn into a corrupt bureaucrat. The root of the problem is that we have two cabinet of ministers (President's Administration and the actual Cabinet) and two prime ministers (Head of President's Administration and the actual Prime Minister). And it will not matter what form we will have - presidential, parliamentary, or mixed - if underlying systems errors are not fixed. Untill then, we all will be asking this question "What's Happening to Kyrgyzstan?"

Friday, October 06, 2006

Report #16: Media Campaign Against the Parliament

Each of pro-governmental newspapers (Slovo Kyrgyzstana, MSN, Jangy Ordo) today has an article blaming the Parliament for all the bad things happening in Kyrgyzstan. They wrote that the majority of the Parliament is pro-Akaev because many of them came to the Parliament with the help of Alga, Kyrgyzstana Party. Therefore, as the newspapers argue, the Parliament is the only thing that is preventing President Bakiev to start reforms in Kyrgyzstan.

In fact, I think it is the people around Bakiev (окружение) who are doing everything to keep the current Constitution (everyone forgot that Askar Akaev wrote it for himself but did not get a chance to use it because of the March events in 2005) and to prevent any kind of reforms. They are different groups of power brokers in the White House that have clung to power with their claws.

Regarding the media campaign, I would say that throughout modern Kyrgyz history the government always blamed the Parliament for trouble, when in fact it was the people in the White House who have much more power than the Parliament, but receive absolutely no coverage in the media of their work. By contrast, the media reports which parliamentarian said what every day.

I am not defending the parliamentarians. In fact, I believe most of them are scumbags. But, blaming people who do not have much power in deciding what happens in Kyrgyzstan is cowardly.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Report #15: On The Economist and Bush-Nazarbaev Relations

For the last three years I have been a steady and regular reader of The Economist, which in my opinion offers the essentials (in addition to excellent writing) to anyone interested in the world politics and wants take part in “a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress,” as the newspaper puts it.

The recent visit of Kazakhstan President Nazarbaev visit to the U.S. and his meeting with U.S. President Bush received much coverage in the media. However, this cartoon which appeared in The Economist (Sept.16, 2006) drew my attention.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Report #14: Kyrgyz Tribal Map

On weekends I was visiting my hometown of Osh. Caught up with some of my childhood friends on Ibraimova 28, whom I had not seen in at least 8 years. Also, visited relatives in Osh/Nookat/Ozgon for iftars (evening meals on Ramadan to break the fast). Great weekend.

Plus, I visited the Great Silk Road Museum at the foothill of the Mount Suleiman in Osh. There, I saw the only existing comprehensive Pre-1917 Tribal Map (although Soviet-made) of the Kyrgyz people. I took some pictures of the map in sections and now I am presenting them to you (appologize for low quality). I am sure the map can help you to make some interesting discoveries. Please note that this map does not reflect the internal migration during the Soviet Union and last 15 years when it increased significantly, of which I am a part.

When you have a chance to visit Osh, please visit the museum to see the map and many other interesting things displayed there.

p.s. I tried to post maps of higher resolutions, but for some reason Blogger automatically shrank them. For more detailed maps, leave a message in the comments.

Talas and Jalalabad
Chui and Suusamyr
Central Kyrgyzstan (Naryn)
Osh and Jalabad (Center)
Osh and Batken

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Report #13: Pickpockets in Bishkek

So far I have had two bad experiences with pickpockets in Bishkek marshrutkas (vans used as public transportation). And both of the times it ended with fist fights inside or outside the marshrutka. In fact, the second time about a week ago, three pickpockets followed me into a drugstore in one of the liveliest intersections of Moskovskaya and Logvinenko streets, the brawl continued until the drugstore vendor threatened to call the police.
Speaking of police, I am really angry at Mr. Sutalinov, Minister of Interior (MVD). The police, reportedly, is a part of whole scheme, where pickpockets share the “profit” with the policemen who in their turn close their eyes on this “petty crime.” And readers, if you want to see how pickpockets work, please stand on the intersection of Kievskaya and Beyshenalieva streets where marshrutkas stop and after 15 minutes you will see that this problem has gotten WAY out of control. Not only in marshrutkas, but on the street, stores, etc. Everywhere!!!

Marshrutka drivers can at least put up warning signs inside their marshrutkas. The police could put up signs on intersections and bus stops, stations, and in stores (ZUM?).

P.S. I found these two relevant signs. One from Estonia, another from Belgium.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Report #12: We Are Not Soviets Anymore!

Thanks to Edil, I came across a test for potential immigrants to Russia, whose government is trying to introduce tougher migration regulations for newcomers from around the world (mostly from the ex-Soviet republic).

Many of the questions on the test are culturally-specific. Unless you have seen the Soviet films, listened to the Soviet songs, and read the Soviet books, you will definitely fail the test. Many of my friends of my age (the generation that went to elementary school in the Soviet Union, but went to secondary school after 1991) failed the tests. I hope this is an indicator of how the younger people are breaking away from the Soviet past (and way of thinking, of course).

By the way, I did 15 out of 47 in Level 1. For the first time in my life, I am glad I failed a test.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Report #11: Boys Gone Wild or What are "Alternative Interrogation Techniques"?

Ted Rall, a political columnis and cartoonist, whose works on Central Asia appear on EurasiaNet, came out with an interesting article on current "debate" in the U.S. on homoerotic torture tactics.

He also just finished his book titled Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East? Would be great to have a copy of his book.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Report #10: Politization of Islam? Stupidy!!!

Who in the hell is Ulugbek Orozaliev? What kind of an Arab Studies expert is he? I have serious doubts about his credentials. He presented himself as an expert working for the National Democratic Insitute (NDI), which has already announced he has nothing to do with the organization. If he lied about his credentials, I doubt about his knowledge of Arabic language or Arabic issues. A week ago he was elected as the co-chair of the Kairan El Party. He is 22.

However, this touches an important issue - politization of Islam. Up-and-coming politicians, like Mr. Orozaliev, who have questionable credentials, might want to use Islam for political needs.

Here are some of the articles about Mr. Orozaliev, who according to some people is in fact only 18.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Report #9: Kurultay

I was in Bospiek (near Kerben, Aksy, Jalalabad) for a Kurultay over the weekends. Here are some of the pictures.
These are the people (every single of them) who want to lead Kyrgyzstan.
I saw this lady (center) at the rally in Bishkek on May 29. She was in Bospiek as one of the leaders of the OBON (отряд баб особого назначения), which is reportedly used by the authorities to provoke participants of anti-government demonstrations.

Report #8: The Stories of Giant Swastika in Kyrgyzstan

A week or two ago I met a New York Times journalist, who then was working on a story about the giant man-made sylvan swastika in Tash-Bashat, Naryn. You can read his article here

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Report #7: Kyrgyzstan Left Out in Central Asia?

If you follow the international business news on Central Asia, you do not read much about Kyrgyzstan’s involvement in big regional economic projects. Of the most recent events, Koizumi came to Kazakhstan, where he secured a deal on uranium exports to Japan, while nobody was interested in the bids for Karabalta Uranium Plant (not that it was a bad thing or that I want more uranium tailings here). Even the Chinese are building the railroad through Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkey and around Kyrgyzstan (not sure when exactly the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railroad will come into reality). Kyrgyzstan is not in the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan Customs Union. And, I am not sure how and when the American-initiated energy grid will connect Kyrgyzstan (and Tajikistan) to South Asia.

Report #6: Familiar Faces in

You all know that Boris never leaves his photo camera no matter where and when he goes. Here are the results of his hard work. Check out Boris's portfolio ( and you will see some familiar faces there. Don't forget to read the last issue of Fotografia here Enjoy!!!

Photo by Boris Pilipenko

Monday, August 28, 2006

Report #5: Sinomania

Everyone is going crazy with China and the Chinese language, especially in a country where the majority of people are scared to death from the Chinese expansion and assimilation. More and more of my friends are learning the language and I know several people going this year to China to learn the language. Even I am interested now.

Report #4: Issyk-Kul 2006

Twice went to Issyk-Kul this year. Here are some of the pictures from IK. Planning another trip this week.