Presidential Palace, Astana, Kazakhstan. Kluzniak, M. Flickr Creative Commons.
Asia / Blog

Central Asia: Misconceptions and ‘The New Great Game’

National oil and gas company, Kazakhstan. Wikimedia

The original ‘Great Game’ refers to the 19th century power struggle between British and Prussian empires over Central Asia. At the time, when the Prussian empire occupied positions in the Eurasian heartland, H. J. Mackinder described the region as “the pivot region of the world’s politics”. However, after …

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Blog / Russia and Eurasia

Symbolic Politics, Social Media and Writing on Foreign Affairs

Analysis of Turkmenistan is dominated by talk of its bizarre cult of personality, notably in Ashgabat’s golden statue of its former president. Photo Source: David Stanley via Wikimedia Commons.

Having recently examined the role of symbolic politics in the regimes of Central Asia, I started to think about the wider parallels between this and the …

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Asia / Blog

Game & First Set, Authoritarianism: Central Asia, the U.S. and the failure of Democracy

National flags at the UN Building in Geneva. Photo Source: Yann via Wikimedia Commons.

Despite some very limited improvements to public freedom and electoral legitimacy, authoritarianism has proved exceptionally durable within Central Asia in the two decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The methods of electoral fraud, suppression of opposition, legislative …

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Asia / Blog

Xi Jinping, Central Asia and Russia: Misguided Speculation over a New ‘Great Game’

BRICS leaders at the G-20 Summit in St.Petersburg. Xi Jinping then travelled to several Central Asian republics. Photo Source: Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR, Agência Brasil via Wikimedia Commons.

Much attention has been paid to a series of visits undertaken by the new Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Central Asian republics last month. Notwithstanding the ostensible …

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Blog / Europe

Monitoring The Monitors: Election Observation Missions in Post-Soviet Central Asia

OSCE Kazakhstan. Photo Source: U.S. Department of State via Flickr Creative Commons.

In the last fifteen years, the importance of electoral observation has propagated enormously – paralleling the spread of democratisation and democracy promotion. Though Western governments, international and non-governmental organisations have used a myriad of strategies to elicit democratic change around the globe; election …