A 58-year-old ethnic Kazakh man has emerged from a 17-year nightmare of Chinese imprisonment and "reeducation" to be reunited with his family in Kazakhstan. Raqyzhan Zeinolla was welcomed at the airport in Almaty on April 9 by family members, including his wife, grown children, and grandchildren he'd never met. It was a precious moment of happiness for one of the many families caught up in Beijing's massive campaign of internment and forced assimilation of Muslims in China's northwestern Xinjiang Province.
Voters in Kyrgyzstan decided on April 11 whether to support constitutional amendments promoted by President Sadyr Japarov. If passed, the amendments will expand his powers and allow him to run for a second term. MORE - Kyrgyz Voters Approve Constitutional Changes To Strengthen Presidency.
A Budapest hospital that was refurbished in 2012 to care for homeless people is facing eviction after the Hungarian authorities decided to remove it from its premises. But the city's mayor says the hospital, with a capacity of 164 beds, will not move out unless the government provides it with an alternative location.
After 120 years in business, the Yeliseyevsky luxury grocery store closed its doors on April 11. The store survived revolution, communism, and the collapse of the Soviet Union but has reportedly been forced to shut down due in part to the coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. President Joe Biden has urged his Russian counterpart to take measures to ease mounting tensions with Ukraine and proposed a summit between the two leaders in a third country, as Washington and NATO reaffirmed their support for Kyiv. In a phone call with Vladimir Putin on April 13, Biden "voiced our concerns over the sudden Russian military buildup in occupied Crimea and on Ukraine's borders, and called on Russia to de-escalate tensions," a White House statement said. The call came as Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on April 13 held talks with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, voicing grave concern about the buildup of Russian troops. Also, Ukraine Says Russia Ignoring Calls For Dialogue Amid Rising Tensions.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) is urging Kyiv to repatriate dozens of Ukrainian women and children it says are being held in "horrific" conditions in Syrian camps. An estimated 40 Ukrainian women and children are "unlawfully" detained in two camps in northeastern Syria, the New York-based human rights watchdog said in a statement on April 13. The majority of them are children, some as young as 2 years old, it added. The group is among nearly 43,000 foreigners linked to the Islamic State (IS) extremist group who are being held by regional authorities.
The wife of jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny says she is growing more concerned over his health as the toll of prison life and a hunger strike mounts. Yulia Navalnaya said in a post on Instagram that she visited the Kremlin critic on April 13 at the prison where he is serving 2 1/2 years for an embezzlement conviction widely considered as politically trumped-up. Navalnaya said the two spoke via telephone and could see each other through a glass barrier in what she called "the best date of my life." Also, One Day After Navalny's Team Established In Daghestan, Whereabouts Of Coordinator Unknown.
The Belarusian Committee of State Security (KGB) has confirmed the detention of Ryhor Kastusyou, the chairman of the opposition Belarusian Popular Front (BNF), and noted political analyst Alyaksandr Fyaduta amid an ongoing crackdown on dissent following a disputed presidential election last year. In a statement on April 13, the KGB said the two men were being held on unspecified charges, adding that detailed information on the cases will be provided later. Kastusyou's relatives said earlier that the politician had been detained in the eastern city of Shklou on April 12 and taken to Minsk. Also, Tsikhanouskaya Associates Reject Charges As Trial Starts In Belarus.
Belarus is creating new parties, but not without Russia’s involvement. A founding party congress of radical pro-Russian Union party that took place on March 6 was attended by people known for their role in Russia-backed separatists republics in Ukraine’s Donbas, inducing political strategist Alexander Kazakov, who worked for several years as an advisor to the "head of the DPR" Alexander Zakharchenko and who recently, together with writer Zakhar Prilepin, founded the For Truth party, Viktor Yatsenko, former DPR communications minister, Dmitry Belik, who took part in the annexation of Crimea and for a couple of months served as head of the Russia-installed administration in Sevastopol, and then became a State Duma deputy from United Russia party. (Russian Service)
A Chechen refugee deported from France to Russia now faces potential torture or even death after being handed over to north Caucasus region’s security services, Amnesty International said on April 11. The French branch of the rights group said in an emergency appeal that they were extremely concerned about the fate of Magomed Gadayev, who was deported from France to Moscow on April 9. The 37-year-old was subsequently handed over by Russian security agents to authorities in Chechnya, Novaya Gazeta newspaper reported.
In May 1931, prisoners toiling in the Soviet Union's expanding network of forced labor camps set off on a journey of weeks into the vast coal basin in the Russian Arctic, where they founded the settlement that would soon grow into the city of Vorkuta, 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle. It had been a barren, forbidding terrain known only to indigenous Nenets reindeer herders; within a decade, it hosted one of the deadliest gulag camps in the Soviet Union, and after Stalin's death in 1953, a burgeoning metropolis that would be upheld as a symbol of Soviet power. But close to a century after its founding, a city whose population approached 250,000 in the late 1980s now has fewer than 60,000 residents and is shrinking faster than any other in Russia.
If you've ever used Grammarly to polish up a piece of writing, hired a Portuguese-language tutor on Preply, kept your dog or cat out of trouble with Petcube, or found a job through Jooble, you have used products designed by companies with Ukrainian roots. They are some of the best-known names to emerge from an IT industry that has been booming in recent years -- and whose growth has been slowed a bit but not stopped by the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit Ukraine hard and continues to take a deadly toll more than a year after its onset.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has published a survey that it says shows that illegal fishing and trade in wild sturgeon is happening in the lower Danube region on a “rather serious scale.” Poaching and the illegal trade of meat and caviar are often cited as major threats to many sturgeon populations worldwide, but the conservation group said that its survey, made public on April 12, provides “first-time evidence of the actual scale” of the threats in the lower Danube, specifically in Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, and Ukraine.
When Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian signed a Russian-brokered cease-fire in November to end the war with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, it created a tumultuous postwar crisis that has eroded public confidence in Yerevan's political establishment. Pashinian's allies -- faced with political upheaval and declining public confidence in politicians -- are now working to change the country's election laws ahead of snap parliamentary elections expected in June.
Canada has halted some military exports to NATO ally Turkey after a probe confirmed Canadian drone technology was used by Azerbaijan in last year’s fighting with Armenia over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region. Canada suspended military export permits to Turkey last October pending an investigation into allegations Canadian technology was misused when the Turkish military provided armed drones to support Azerbaijan.
RFERL’s Uzbek Service reports that state employees and civil servants are being forced to join the pro-government Liberal Democratic Party of Uzbekistan, which nominated incumbent President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to run in 2016. Not only people are forced to join the party, they are required to sign documents stating that they are willing to pay monthly membership fees. Uzbekistan’s next presidential election will take place on October 21, 2021. (Uzbek Service)
Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have broken ground for a giant trade and economic cooperation hub, the largest of its kind in Central Asia, along the shared border of the two countries. The Uzbek government’s press service said a groundbreaking ceremony with both prime ministers was held on April 10 at the Gishtkoprik-Zhibek Zholy border checkpoint. "This unique project in the Central Asian region will be profitable for the two nations and contribute to the development of trade and economic ties in the region as a whole," the Uzbek government said.
RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service writes that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) did not use official data from Turkmenistan for its “World Economic Outlook 2021” report. In the report, the IMF indicated that in 2020 gross domestic product grew in Turkmenistan by 0.8 percent, while according to the Turkmen government, this figure is 5.9 percent. (Turkmen Service)
MAJLIS PODCAST: Uzbekistan In The Spotlight For The Wrong Reasons