Caucasus
Islamists and Secular Oppositionists in Azerbaijan: Toward Rapprochement?

Islamists and Secular Oppositionists in Azerbaijan: Toward Rapprochement?

Islamists have occupied a marginal role in post-Soviet Azerbaijani politics, not least because of their strained relations both with the Azerbaijani government and the country’s secular opposition parties. But there is an intriguing political process underway in Azerbaijan today. Against the backdrop of widening social and political unrest, Azerbaijan’s Islamists appear to be taking a...
The Men are Bigger and the Women are Louder: a Chechen Expat on Chechnya

The Men are Bigger and the Women are Louder: a Chechen Expat on Chechnya

Chechens might not be from the Czech Republic, as many believed following the horrific April 15 bombings in Boston. But there are some Chechens in Turkey. They might be far from their ravaged homeland, but Chechens in Turkey still feel the need to keep a low profile. In Istanbul, their community has faced assassinations carried...
The Rise and Fall of Lazika

The Rise and Fall of Lazika

In December 2011, the Georgian president announced—to widespread surprise—the construction of a new city on the coast of the Black Sea, to be called Lazika. As bulldozers rumbled to life in the middle of an immense swamp, the Georgian Constitution was amended to suit the occasion. NGOs pointed out the irrationality and lack of transparency...
"An Apparatus of Mediators" - State Religion Policy in Azerbaijan

“An Apparatus of Mediators” – State Religion Policy in Azerbaijan

Throughout Azerbaijan’s two decades of post-Soviet independence, relations between the country’s secular government and independent Islamic organizations have ranged from tenuous to openly hostile. However, following a steep deterioration in relations in recent years the Aliyev regime has taken steps ostensibly to revamp relations with Islamic organizations and improve its image among Azerbaijani believers. In...
The Secret Soulitude in a Soulful City

The Secret Soulitude in a Soulful City

The plot of land across the road from the Cevahir shopping mall in Istanbul’s Şişli neighbourhood is marked by high walls topped with barbed wire. In the daily hustle and bustle of shoppers that surround the area it is easy, expected even, for the casual passer-by to pay little attention to the whitewashed walls. I...
Young and in Love (with God)

Young and in Love (with God)

The Orthodox Church of Georgia is attracting a post-communist generation in need of a point of reference. Nine years after the Rose Revolution, the young generation reflects the hopes and contradictions of this ancient Christian nation, torn between desire for freedom and preservation of tradition. About thirty kilometers from Tbilisi, nestled in a valley, the...
What to Expect When You're Electing

What to Expect When You’re Electing

Most elections are boring. It’s true, not some sort of Imposition of Western Norms or anything; people vote for the fella they like the most, and the obvious candidate usually wins. The binary nature of democracy — the “him, not her” aspect of it — really puts a damper on the theater of the political...