China’s Muslims, building up the Russian Army, Georgian prison scandals & the top judge in Kyrgyzstan

Some interesting stories out this week:

Several Loud Cracks in an Almaty Bazaar – Casey Michel in The Tuquay: I’m willing to bet most people are dimly aware that there are Muslims in China, but very little is known about the Uyghurs, who are Turkic, Muslim Chinese. And very repressed, constantly monitored by the Chinese in the hopes that the adage ‘out of sight out of mind’ will serve when it comes to an entire population. The article’s worth reading for its human side of the story as well as the explanatory value of what Uyghurs go though daily. Compelling and the human interest story choice of the week.

Building a Better Bear – Dmitri Trenin in Foreign Policy: We don’t cover Russia specifically in this blog, only how it relates to Central Eurasia/Asia, but militarization of Russia certainly has a regional impact. The article makes the following claim:

“Russia’s relations with other great powers, such as the United States and China, are securely managed through nuclear deterrence; the main mission of its armed forces is now to prepare for local conflicts, along the country’s borders or even within them…The reform, sanctioned by Putin, formally overseen by Dmitry Medvedev, and ruthlessly executed by Serdyukov, is aimed at replacing the scaled-down and dysfunctional version of the Red Army with a more modern military institution. The plan’s centerpiece is to replace the concept of a mobilization army — the bedrock of the Soviet system whose main function was to draft millions of men into the armed forces at a moment’s notice — with a permanent, mobile, and more professional fighting force. The command-and-control structure would be streamlined, the weapons arsenal upgraded, combat readiness enhanced, and conscripts increasingly replaced with volunteer soldiers.”

In other words, if you want to keep an eye on the region, keep an eye on Russia as well. One good point that the article raises is that Russia ‘sees itself alone and friendless in the world’ – this mindset, similar to how some countries see themselves as being looked down on (China, though this mindset is hopefully lessening), is a driving factor in how Russia relates to other countries.

And two from RFE/RL:

Woman Named As Head Of Kyrgyz Supreme Court – Feruza Jamashaeva has been named as the chairwoman of the Supreme Court in Kyrgyzstan. I didn’t have time to get more detail on this story, but I found it interesting and frankly, exciting. Kyrgyzstan, like other Central Asian countries, has a quota of how many women must be in Parliament, 30% of the elected body, in Kyrgyzstan’s case, introduced in 2007.

Georgian Prisons Minister Steps Down In Wake Of Abuse Videos: Not much to say about this – torture in prisons isn’t uncommon, so I’ll let a quote from a Georgian human rights activist do the talking: “Today the Georgian public saw material which shows that our prisoners are tortured in Georgian prisons, and that they are subjected to cruelty as well as inhuman and degrading treatment. In accordance with the European convention, we call all of this treatment torture. And Saakashvili’s government is torturing people in Georgian prisons.”

 

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