Russia – Walk Free Foundation – Global Slavery Index 2014




Escalating ethnic violence in Russian cities,25 coupled with regional conflict has heightened racial tension, particularly towards migrant workers from Central Asia and the Caucasus.26  Five people disappeared in 2013 after an alleged abduction-style detention by security forces in Ingushetia and another incident occurred in Chechnya in early 2013.27 

Russia – Walk Free Foundation – Global Slavery Index 2014.

Loss of Chechnya: the case for the defence

Loss of Chechnya: the case for the defence

Chechnya’s ex-foreign minister Ilyas Akhmadov has published a book chronicling the loss of his republic to Russia. Politicians from other countries with similar tales of loss and betrayal have tried to justify their actions in the same way. Oliver Bullough examines the current situation in the light of some of their accounts.

If a politician has lost an election, he writes a book about it. If he has lost a whole country, however, you might expect him to keep it quiet. Nonetheless, over the centuries, a few men have taken on the task of explaining away the most enormous failure that a political career can end with.

Russia has tended to be the villain in these memoirs because of its habit of periodically swallowing its neighbours. As a result, it looked as though the genre might die with the Cold War, when Moscow finally lost its empire. In previous centuries, exiled ex-leaders of briefly-independent Georgia or Ukraine committed their excuses to paper, but those states are free now. So who could be left to remind us how we abandoned their small nations to Russian vengeance?

Enter Ilyas Akhmadov, who ably fulfils that role on behalf of the Chechens – for whom he was briefly foreign minister, although he lacked a ministry even before he lacked a country. And his memoir does so in bewildering detail. I already knew the names and biographies of many of the people he mentions, but even I struggled with sentences like this one: “it must have been when I was praising his house that Aushev asked me about the cement factory in Chiri Yurt”.

From the progression of the exiles’ memoirs, you can trace the development of the world order, as the leadership of the Western world swings away from Europe. The Polish captain blamed the French in the 1830s, while Zhordania and many others blamed the British in the 1930s and after.

“For the 250,000 Polish Servicemen who fought under British command, the Yalta agreements came as an unbelievable shock,” wrote Kazimierz Sabbat, Poland’s last president in exile before the collapse of communist rule, in Polonia Restituta, with admirable restraint considering the vastness of Poland’s betrayal at the Yalta conference.

Writing today, Akhmadov blames the Americans.

“The lack of a principled assessment in the West contributed to the radicalization of the Chechen resistance; the West was seen as acquiescing to Russia, leaving only two available paths: submission to (Russia’s ally) Kadyrov or jihad,” he writes sadly.

“It is either Kadyrov or extermination and that choice is being hailed by the outside world, somehow, as a sign of progress.”

(Via Open-Democracy: Russia; Post Soviet World)

Silks and Quilts in Central Asian Cultures

Silks and Quilts in Central Asian Cultures, UCLA Asia Institute

Possibly the best-dressed scholarly meeting of the season, “Textiles as Treasures” looked at the place of fabrics in the lives and the industry of nomadic and urban Central Asian cultures over centuries. The March 5 conference was organized by the Asia Institute’s Program on Central Asia; a day-long program on the music of the region is planned for April 1.

Margaret Kivelson, UCLA professor emerita of space physics, describes items from her personal collection of Central Asian textiles to the audience.

At “Textiles as Treasures: Cultures of Consumption in Central Asia and Beyond,” held Saturday, March 5, in UCLA’s Royce Hall, historians, ethnographers and collectors considered how the role of textiles varies across the region and over time, in permanent and temporary settlements. The UCLA Asia Institute’s Program on Central Asia organized the free, public gathering with support from the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California.  The UCLA Center for India and South Asia cosponsored. Cheri Hunter of the Textile Museum Associates of Southern California, a conference cosponsor, addresses the audience.

Some textile designs in Central Asia remained in continuous production for hundreds of years, said Jon Thompson, a retired curator of Oxford University’s Ashmolean Museum. While creating a new home-decor aesthetic in the West, the phenomenon also directed Turkmen production away from home furnishings destined for family and ceremonial use and towards international market demands.

Going back to the 16th century, Indian merchants were especially active in the textile trade, moving far into Central Asia, said Professor Claude Markovits of the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Science Sociales in Paris. In today’s Ferghana Valley, the heart of Central Asia’s cotton, silk and textile industries, several fourth- and fifth-generation ikat weavers are reviving some of the pre-Soviet splendor of the vocation, according to a conference paper by University of Kansas curator Mary Dusenbury. A number of conference attendees sported ikat garments, including this Indonesian example and others from Central Asia.

Textiles may go through finishing processes abroad, especially in Turkey and Italy, according to Dusenbury.

To get textiles ready for market, Central Asian producers now have to closely consider opportunities in places such as Moscow, Paris, New York and San Francisco, said Lotus Stack, curator emeritus of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

(Via UCLA; Asia Institute)

See Also:

Textile Museum Associates of Southern California, Inc

Activists want Russian language to have official status in Latvia

Activists want Russian language to have official status in Latvia

A campaign for a referendum on the Russian language is unfolding in Latvia, despite the government’s warnings that it will “worsen the split” in society.

The status of Russian as the second state language is dangerous for Latvia, the country’s Cultural Minister Sarmite Elerte said on Wednesday. She explained her position by “the split in the bilingual society,” which is stressful for ethnic Latvians, Russians and minorities.

Ethnic Russians make up about 30 percent of the Latvia’s population and more than 40 percent in the capital, Riga. The aim of the campaign launched on March 7 is to give the Russian language the status of a second official language. The referendum will be called if the required 10,000 signatures are collected. The campaigners have already managed to collect a thousand signatures.

The campaigners for the referendum on the Russian language followed the example of the opposition “For Fatherland and Freedom” party. Its members had collected signatures in support of switching over to Latvian at Russian-speaking schools financed by the state.

Elerte told journalists she considered ethnic Russians the national minority in the country. The minister cited the Convention for the Protection of National Minorities to support her views. Minorities are ethnic groups who have lived in Latvia for generations and regard themselves as Latvian nationals Itar-Tass quoted her as saying.

The state language is the most important problem that divides ethnic Latvians, Russians and national minorities since Latvia became independent in 1991.

(Via Russia Today)

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