Research notes

Aliyev: more and more ‘double standards’

At the latest ASN conference in New York I have been talking with Sofie Bedford about the rhetoric of ‘double standards’ in Azerbaijan and elsewhere. The conversation prompted a vary basic research question: “is it true that Azerbaijan’s president has been using more and more the rhetoric of ‘double standards’?” Since it is exactly the kind of straightforward question that can be easily approached with a tool I have been working on recently that simplifies quantitative content analysis of textual materials available online, I gave it a spin… and here are the results.

1989 language laws in Moldova

The language laws introduced in Moldova in 1989 are frequently mentioned in publications dealing with inter-ethnic relations or language issues in the country or with language policies in the post-Soviet space more in general (a short reference list is included at the end of the post). Understandably, none of them presents in detail each of these laws. However, for my own research, I decided to go through some of them.

Russia 2014 as imagined in 2004

In 2004, the Carnegie Moscow Center published a book titled “Russia: the next ten years” (Kuchins and Trenin, 2004). In the introduction, Kuchins makes clear that the aim of the publication is not “to predict” what would happen in the following ten years but rather “to elucidate the context for critical choices for Russian policymakers and the Russian people” (p. 10). However, many of the contributors tried to picture the Russia of 2014, often presenting both a more optimistic and a more pessimistic scenario.

Social media in post-Soviet de facto states

Here you find Facebook interest lists and Twitter lists including the pages and public profiles of institutions, news outlets, NGOs as well as public figures related to post-Soviet de facto states. Any Facebook or Twitter user can subscribe to these lists and follow the online activities that appear on these social media and relate to either of the post-Soviet de faco states. Some of these lists gather a considerable number of sources (e.

Post-soviet de facto states official reactions to events in Crimea

Representatives of authorities in all four post-Soviet de facto states issued statements in favour of Crimea’s referendum as an expression of the right to self-determination and declared their hope that this will contribute to a shift in international law. South Ossetia and Transnistria explicitly supported also Crimea’s annexation to the Russian Federation, while Nagorno Karabakh and Abkhazia refrained from doing so, at least for what concerns official statements issued so far.

Random notes on Abkhazia, October 2011

– Coming from Zugdidi, no passport control whatsoever from the Georgian side. Just a man standing near a post. On the way back, I was asked my passport, job title, and, funnily, phone number. – In Gali, roads are in terrible conditions, plenty of potholes, asphalt rarely to be seen. Just out of town, as soon as the Gali districts ends, a good recently asphalted road starts… done just a few months ago.

North Caucasus Youth Forum Mashuk 2010, some random notes

The basic idea of the forum is rather interesting… all participants come from the Federal District of the Northern Caucasus (Stavropolskij Kraj, Karachaj-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia, Ingushetia, Chechnya, Dagestan) plus, at least in the original project, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The programme includes training and classes dedicated to “intercultural interaction” that all participants must attend. Basically, participants from different parts of the Russian Caucasus are given a chance to know each other better, to discuss about the stereotypes they have about each other, and so forth.

Notes for an article on Seliger 2010

International youth camp Seliger 2010, July 1 – July 8, Russia. Preliminary notes written on a bus from Seliger to Moscow. Pictures will follow in the next few days. Seliger is the location where in the last couple of years the Russian government, through its Federal agency for youth affairs, has been organizing summer camps for young people from all over Russia. The same location was previously used by the much discussed youth organisation “Nashi”.

Why don’t you like girls? #caucasus #gendercide

Recently, “The Economist” has published a cover story about gendercide, i.e. the practice of selective abortion in order not to have female children. En passant, “The Economist” mentioned that Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are three among the four top countries in the world rankings of countries by sex ratio at birth (male/female). The article mostly focussed on China and India, that are numerically much more important, and didn’t explain why this phenomenon is widespread in the South Caucasus.

A foggy day in Nazran, Ingushetia

It takes about half an hour by mini-bus to get from Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia, to Nazran, Ingushetia. In spite of these, residents of one city apparently scarcely visit the other. Anyway, this is a long story, and I’m not going into that… The first thing one notices approaching Ingushetia is the extremely visible presence of military units. Check points at the border between the two republics. Soldiers with automatic gun machines all along the main road, all in camouflage uniforms with heavy bullet-proof vests, some even with their faced covered with balaclavas.