Wednesday, June 18, 2008

#221: Euro2008

The Euro2008 craze hit Bishkek when cafes started charging visitors money, in addition to the drinks and food ordered, for watching the game. The only problems is that the games start at 1am. But, people are zealously watching the games, or closely following the results. I am predicting that Portugal will meet the Netherlands in the final at the end of the month.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

#220: We Need Your Votes

One of the best Kyrgyz photo-bloggers Azzzik is participating in a photo competition. His picture below is short of a few votes to be #1. So, please take a few seconds and vote for him HERE.

#219: Chingiz Aitmatov

Photo courtery of Kommersantъ

Kyrgyz author and statesman Chingiz Aitmatov dies at 79

International Herald Tribute/The Associated Press
Tuesday, June 10, 2008

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan: Kyrgyz author Chingiz Aitmatov, who introduced his mountainous Central Asian nation to the world through novels about ordinary lives under the Soviet regime, died in Germany on Tuesday, relatives, colleagues and Kyrgyz officials said. He was 79.

Aitmatov died of pneumonia at a clinic in Nuremberg, said Lucien Leitess, the head of Unions-Verlag, his publisher in Germany, where he had been hospitalized after falling ill last month. His family was with him.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's press secretary, Dosaly Esenaliyev, also confirmed Aitmatov's death.

Aitmatov first found fame with his 1958 novel "Jamilya." Set during World War II, it tells the story of a young Kyrgyz woman who leaves her husband and runs away with a crippled war veteran. The novel sparked heated discussions in the majority Muslim and male-dominated society about whether a woman could leave her husband for another man.

French poet Louis Aragon praised "Jamilya" as "the best novel about love."

In other books, Aitmatov described life in the Soviet Union, introducing the term "mankurt" to describe people turned into slaves through torture and memory loss. Kyrgyz nationalists use the term derogatorily to describe ethnic Kyrgyz who have abandoned their ancestors, history and culture for the Russian language and the Western way of life.

Aitmatov was an advocate of preserving the cultures and languages of non-Russians in the Soviet Union. In his novel "The Day Lasts Longer Than A Century," he wrote about a boy who kills his mother because he doesn't remember her.

One of the few Kyrgyz known outside his nation of 5 million people, Aitmatov strongly influenced the country's political life. His backing of Askar Akayev, who was president from 1990-2005, was crucial for Akayev's initial election as the Soviet Union was breaking up.

Chingiz Torekulovich Aitmatov was born Dec. 12, 1928 in the village of Sheker, in northwestern Kyrgyzstan's Talas region, to a family of Communist Party activists. In 1935, Aitmatov's family moved to Moscow.

Three years later his father, Torekul Aitmatov, a Kyrgyz Communist leader, was sent to a camp where he was executed as part of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's purges. His body was found 60 years later in a mass grave in northern Kyrgyzstan. That personal tragedy was reflected in a number of Aitmatov's works.

His 1986 novel "The Scaffold" was among the most widely read books of the perestroika years. The story of a defrocked priest who meets a violent death after infiltrating gangs of drug traffickers and poachers, it was filled with Biblical references and contemplation of the nature of evil.

Aitmatov "was flooded with awards, medals and state adoration but always remained honest and incorruptible," the RIA-Novosti news agency quoted Russian writer Viktor Yerofeyev as saying. "He was an example for the intelligentsia of the 1970s Brezhnev era, when there was no hope that literature could maintain its innocence."

Several Soviet films were based on Aitmatov's novels, which lovingly evoked Kyrgyz folklore and color. Renowned Russian film director Andrei Konchalovski's "First Teacher" follows Aitmatov's book about Soviet authorities' battle for people's hearts and minds in remote areas of Kyrgyzstan.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Aitmatov's novels found a new audience in the West and gained popularity in Germany.

Amid the Soviet breakup, Aitmatov entered the diplomatic sphere and served as the Soviet and then Russian ambassador to Belgium from 1990 to 1993. In 1995, he became Kyrgyzstan's ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands and also represented his home country in the European Union, NATO and UNESCO.

His son Askar Aitmatov was Kyrgyzstan's foreign minister between 2002 and 2005.

Aitmatov's 1994 novel, "When Mountains Fall (The Eternal Bride)," won several awards in Russia and Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyz authorities proclaimed 2008 the Year of Aitmatov in honor of his 80th birthday.

"A man who was close to all of us is gone," former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said, according to Interfax.

Aitmatov is survived by his widow, three sons and a daughter.

His body is expected to be brought home from Germany on Thursday and his funeral is expected to be held Saturday, his daughter-in-law Anara Nasirova said.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

#218: Watch Out, Kyrgyzstan!

Does anyone know who Robert Fletcher is? I saw this guy yesterday on Manas Avenue (near the Kyrgyz National University) where he was posing for a picture with his usual "thumb-up" and a limo in the background. Judging from the crowd outside the building where he apparently rented room for his lectures, people are falling for the aggressive ad campaign in Bishkek. Everywhere he is described as a "millionaire-mentor," who can teach people how to make millions of greenbacks.

This is one of the billboards in Bishkek (Robert Fletcher is the first from the left). There was also a big article in one of the biggest-selling newspapers in Bishkek. Smaller ads are on trees and poles around Bishkek.
Global System Training (rus/eng), the company that he founded in Ukraine, says this:

And he really has lots of experience and knowledge to share. He has 25-year experience in sales and marketing, 20 years in advertising, investing in stocks, business, real estate, during 10 years he was a National Sales Director of the USA, along with this he has been a consultant and adviser for a number of big American companies and made more than 2000 seminars and training.
I did not find where he worked as the National Sales Director (of the whole United States of America?) and which successful companies he consulted. He also has very impressive credentials - Honorary Professor, Doctor, Academic, Millionaire-Mentor Roberts Fletcher. Professor where?
I have a feeling that this guy is a big swindler and on a path to take advantage of poor and credulous people of Kyrgyzstan. Apparently, he has gotten in trouble in Ukraine when he tried to enter Russia with a fake passport.
The incident throws light into one of the murkier corners of ex-pat culture here in Eastern Europe - the small group foreigners who come to the former Soviet UNI0N to take advantage of what remains of this region's 'Wild East' spirit and profit from whatever prestige their Western 'credentials' give them among naive natives.
Watch out, Kyrgyzstan!

Monday, June 09, 2008

#217: No Comments

Zigeunerin, an excellent photo-blogger, took pictures of these random MPs in Kyrgyzstan as they were voting for their fellow colleagues. Regulations allow MPs to vote for their colleagues within the party in their absence. Although all parties enjoy this regulation (seen in a picture below), it was introduced to make it easier for the ruling Ak Jol Party, which is President Bakiev's creation, to pass any bill. Often, only half of 90 MPs are present, but when voting results are announced, it turns out that almost all have voted.

#216: Lazy Test Takers

Last week my boss asked me to prepare a test for people who had applied for my position. I decided to give them a text in English drafted by some of my colleagues for editing. Judging from the test results, it is obvious that none of them had bothered to look on our website, where an edited version of that text was posted. In fact, one of them just moved one paragraph to the end.

I am so ready to leave my job, because the closer is the last day of my work (next Friday), the bigger the workload.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

#215: Untitled

Many interesting and disturbing things are happening in Kyrgyzstan, but I don't want to write. Desperation? Maybe. Hopelessness? Maybe. Disinterest? Maybe. Laziness? Maybe.