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№23 (3) 2016 ISSN 2053-1036 RRP: £5.95





THE BIG INTERVIEW: SHAMSH KASSIM-LAKHA Executive Chairman of the Board Executive Committee of UCA


7-8 November 2016 Dubai World Trade Centre


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Disclaimer : The information contained in this publication is for general information purposes only. The information is provided by Open Central Asia and while we endeavour to ensure the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability or suitability of the information, products, services, or related graphics represented for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk. All authors provide their own material and any opinions contained within are solely those of the authors and do not neccessarily represent the views or opinions of Open Central Asia. We publish these views as part of our provision of a forum for discussion and readers should be aware that the views may contrast each other in the pursuit of this aim. In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or profits arising out of, or in connection with, the use of material contained within this publication.




Special gratitude for cooperation and support to Embassy of Azerbaijan to the UK. Embassy of Kazakhstan to the UK. Embassy of Tajikistan to the UK. Embassy of Kyrgyzstan to the UK.

FROM THE EDITOR volved in the Finance ministry. He has, perhaps, more experience of the world outside Uzbekistan having dealt with foreign institutions like the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. His approach might be different and more palatable to the international community therefore.

It is always frustrating when deadlines punch a hole right in the middle of a developing and important story. But that is exactly what I find is happening as Uzbekistan sits on the edge after its population and the world learned that Uzbek President Islam Karimov, 78, had died after being hospitalised after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage at the end of August. An unprecedented display of information sharing on the president’s health allowed rumours of his death to spread quickly in a country that previously has not speculated on the health of its autocratic leader.

that the head of the parliament’s upper chamber, the rather unknown Nigmatulla Yuldashev, has now assumed the president’s authority for three months.

But almost as soon as state television had announced his death, an honour guard marched his coffin to the presidential plane, which left for Karimov’s hometown of Samarkand. Some 20,000 men gathered to say traditional Muslim farewell prayers in front of the Tilla-Kori madrasa before the body was carried through the crowd to be buried at the Shah-i-Zinda mausoleum, reserved for many of the historic characters of Uzbekistan and Central Asia.

Mirzayev may be the favourite, hailing from Jizzakh province, next to Karimov’s Samarkand province and presumably has the backing of the powerful regional clans, who will no doubt play an important role in the process of succession. Mirzayev’s style is, however, not known for its diplomacy and is more brawn than brain, which leads to the question of whether he would lead a transition for Uzbekistan that would see it close in even more on itself and shun the outside world even further than it already has.

The problem is that after so long with the same leader in charge it is not entirely clear who will take over. The only information from the constitution (which can be changed on a whim) is

The short-list of candidates is very short – perhaps just three people: The 58 year-old Prime Minister Shavkat Mirziyeav, 56 year old Finance Minister Rustam Azimov and 72 year old chief of the National Security Committee, Rustam Inoyatov. Karimov’s daughter, Gulnara, was once on that list but became estranged a few years ago and it would not appear that a stable family transition is now on the cards.

Azimov, like Mirzayev, has youth on his side. At 56 years old, he hails from Tashkent where he has always been in-

The least likely of all is Inoyatov and, at 72, his age might make it tricky to convince people that he will provide long-term stability. His power in Uzbkeistan is clear though, having held the reigns of the National Security Committee since 1995. He is accused of playing a role in the excommunication of Gulnara from the inner family circle. He may, however, be important in deciding the next president and his power should not be forgotten – he too is from Tashkent so may back Azimov. The focus on transition is now clear and is a problem in other Central Asian countries who have had the same leading figurehead for so long. While Kyrgyzstan has been leading the democratic change in the region, other countries, like Turkmenistan, have continued the traditional style of strong unopposed leadership. The former method of change has, however, required unrest and spilled blood, but the latter has not provided any better outcome for its people. By the time you read this, the issue may have become a lot clearer. Whatever the outcome, I only hope that change is a force for good for the region and its people even though that change may come at a short-term cost. My fear, though is that in a country that has known no other leadership will there be any impetus for discussion, debate, opposition and change?

Enjoy the issue.

Nick Rowan Editor-in-Chief




INTERVIEW WITH THE AMBASSADOR OF KAZAKHSTAN to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, H.E. Mr. Erzhan Kazykhanov Formerly Assistant to the President of the Republic of Khazakstan in 2008 and 2012-2014, His Excellency Mr Erzhan Kazykhanov has been privy to many of the recent developments in Kazakhstan’s political and economic arenas. Amongst a number of roles in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the United Nations, he is a very experienced diplomat currently assigned to the United Kingdom as Ambassador. Open Central Asia went to find out more… 6


OCA: Your Excellency, what are the recent successes and current priorities that you have for developing UK-Kazakh relations? EK: Since their establishment, diplomatic relations between Kazakhstan and the United Kingdom have been developing dynamically and today have reached the level of a strategic partnership. The relationship of the two countries is based on the numerous bilateral documents and has always been supported by the heads of the two countries. For example, David Cameron was the first serving UK Prime Minister to visit Kazakhstan in 2013. President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev’s visit to London in November 2015 opened a new page in the history of our partnership, giving a powerful impetus to the broadening of Kazakh-British ties. The leader of Kazakhstan had a meeting and official lunch with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and met with the then Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street. The visit was also marked with the signing of a number of key documents, such as the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, an MoU on co-operation between civil services, and an agreement on the UK’s participation in Astana EXPO-2017. In addition to this, a huge package of commercial contracts worth 13 billion US dollars were also signed. It should also be noted that the President of Kazakhstan was one of the first world leaders to congratulate Mrs. Theresa May on her appointment as UK’s new Prime Minister. Nursultan Nazarbayev has already met the British Prime Minister at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, and invited her to visit Kazakhstan. There is no doubt that trade and economic co-operation is the main priority in Kazakh-British bilateral relations.

The UK became one of the 6 biggest investors to the economy of Kazakhstan, and has invested more than 10 billion US dollars over the last ten years. Kazakhstan has been chosen as one of 14 priority countries for the UK to develop trade relations. Moreover, last year, the UK Government appointed Lord Astor of Hever as a Special Trade Envoy to Kazakhstan, who has already paid his first visit to our country. In turn, Kazakhstan included Britain in the list of 6 priority countries for attracting investment, and opened up a visa-free travel scheme to its citizens. Institutional ties are also being strengthened. The Intergovernmental commission on trade-economic and investment co-operation started working last year and the Kazakh-British Business Council has been operating successfully. Existing structures such as the Kazakh-British Trade and Industry Council, the British-Kazakh Society and the British-Kazakh Bar Association also play a significant role in strengthening bilateral relations. OCA: It is approaching 25 years of independence for Kazakhstan. How would you assess the progress of the country in that time and what evidence would you point to that shows it is a stronger country now than under the Soviet Union? EK: First of all, over that short period of time, Kazakhstan has proved its political and economic self-sufficiency and self-sustainability. The country has gone through the big way, having overcome the political and economic difficulties followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union. Despite the global challenges, Kazakhstan, thanks to the wise and far-sighted policy of its leader, President Nursultan Nazarbayev, has actually provided sustainable economic growth and preserved political and social stability and peace.

It is with huge pride that Kazakhstan is the home to over 130 different ethnic groups and the followers of all the great faiths who live together in tolerance and harmony. One can say that our country’s model of inter-ethnic and inter-religious peace and concord became an example for the whole world. Another key achievement of Kazakhstan is its contribution to nuclear non-proliferation and strengthening global nuclear safety. Since the beginning of independence, our country has become an active proponent of disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Closing the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from its territory, the establishment of the IAEA Low Enriched Uranium Bank, creation of the ATOM project and Zone free from nuclear weapons in Central Asia under the initiative of President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev serve as a clear evidence of the successful policy run by Kazakhstan over the years of independence. Very successful reforms have been conducted in the economy. Kazakhstan has made a huge jump from a middle income country to a modern and fast developing state with a diverse and dynamic economy. Over the past 25 years, its economy has increased 21 fold, the incomes of the population – 19 fold. The GDP has increased 16 fold. Over 200 billion US dollars of FDI have been attracted to the country’s economy during this period. 25 years of independence is also marked with meaningful international processes, initiated by the President. The Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions are the major international initiatives of Kazakhstan aimed at enhancing security and peace




both regionally and globally. Positive results were achieved during Kazakhstan’s chairmanship at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 2010. No less successful was Kazakhstan’s chairmanship at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in 2011-2012. During its chairmanship, the financial ties of the member states of the organisation were strengthened, efforts on rehabilitation of the grounds of the Semey nuclear test site and Aral Sea were undertaken. The organisation itself was renamed from the Organisation of Islamic Conference to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. One of the key international economic initiatives that had been implemented was the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union in May 2014 and Kazakhstan’s joining the World Trade Organisation in 2015. The Astana Economic Forum, which is held annually, became a dialogue platform aiming to find effective solutions to major economic and social challenges of the contemporary world. These are only a few of the main suc-



cesses that Kazakhstan reached during the years of independence. The country has set ambitious plans to become one of the most advanced states in the world. In particular, Kazakhstan aims to enter the top 30 most developed countries by 2050 and go through the modernisation process as was done by the OECD member states. The largescale structural economic reforms under the “Nurly Zhol” programme, offered by President Nazarbayev and the National Plan with 100 concrete measures to realise these strategic reforms have the goal of being implemented according to OECD standards. One of these key reforms being undertaken is the privatisation of national companies. OCA: As EXPO 2017 nears, can you update us on what preparations you have been making from the UK side to support this significant event for Kazakhstan? EK: The Astana EXPO 2017 is one of the key national projects of Kazakhstan. The idea of holding such a large-scale event belongs to President Nazarbayev.

The preparatory works are under way and the country will try to hold it at the very high level. One should note that Kazakhstan is the first country among the post-Soviet states to hold the international specialised exhibition in its territory. It will take place from 10th June to 10th September 2017. It is expected that 100 countries and 10 international organisations, as well as over 2 million people will attend it. The exhibition, which has the theme “Future energy”, aims to research strategies, programmes and technologies to develop sustainable sources of energy. It should give a powerful impulse to help diversify the national economy. Preparing such a large-scale event will involve small and medium size businesses, including the construction of exhibition facilities and infrastructure. The United Kingdom has already confirmed its participation in EXPO 2017. The British pavilion, which is being constructed, promises to be one of the most visited facilities during the exhibition. The UK’s Royal Dutch Shell

became the global partner to Astana EXPO 2017. OCA: In June, Kazakhstan was elected as a non-member at UN Security Council for the years 2017-2018. What do you expect to see resulting from this Kazakhstan’s membership? EK: Since the first days of its independence, Kazakhstan has been playing one of the key roles in supporting international safety and global peace. This is not only about Kazakhstan’s contribution to the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, but also its ability to enhance global multicultural and inter-religious dialogue. Over recent years, Kazakhstan has proved to be a platform for solving a range of international problems. In 2010, our country chaired the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), becoming the first country among the post-Soviet states. Under the motto of Four Ts – Trust, Tolerance,Transparency and Tradition – Kazakhstan gave a new impetus to the organisation and to hold its first summit in 11 years in Astana. Kazakhstan was the main initiator of the proclamation by the United Nations of the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (20132022), aimed at promoting solidarity among all the peoples of the world, through equality, inclusiveness, as well as cultural diversity. One should note that Kazakhstan made a significant contribution to the solution of Iran’s nuclear programme and the Syrian problem, having provided its territory as a platform for dialogue between representatives of the Syrian opposition. Since 2003, Kazakhstan has hosted the Congresses of Leaders of World

and Traditional Religions. The country abandoned the world’s fourth biggest nuclear arsenal and closed one of the hugest nuclear test sites in its territory. President Nazarbayev’s recent Manifesto “The World. The 21st Century” which gained the status of the official document of the UN General Assembly and Security Council, also calls for the preservation of global security and peace. The global community knows Kazakhstan as an honest and peace loving country. Its membership at the UNSC may play a positive role in regulating tensions between the conflicting countries. Our country’s global initiatives may contribute to the establishment of inter-ethnic, inter-cultural, and inter-religious dialogue. Therefore I believe that Kazakhstan will start its mission as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council with a bulk of proposals to the international agenda. OCA:Your Excellency, Kazakhstan has launched another ambitious project – the Astana International Financial Centre. Could you provide more information about this centre? EK: The Astana International Financial Centre has been created in accordance with the Plan of the Nation – the 100 concrete steps to implement the five institutional reforms of the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, in order to establish a favourable financial environment to attract foreign investment into the economy of Kazakhstan. In addition to this, the AIFC is designed to focus on ensuring development and an effective management of capital market, equity and welfare of individuals, and is set to develop Islamic finance. The centre will base its development

on the experience of the world’s top financial centres, such as Dubai, New York, London, Hong Kong and Singapore. It aims to turn Astana into one of the top 20 financial centres in the world. One of the major advantages of the AIFC is that it will have an absolutely independent international court based on English Law and arbitrage centre. AIFC will also have a new regulator and administrative authority. The courts will be independent in their activities and separate from the judicial system of Kazakhstan. The official language of the AIFC will be English. One should note that Kazakhstan possesses all necessary internal and external competitive advantages to achieve this ambitious goal. The country’s geographical location, economic and political stability, favourable tax climate, significant public funds available for management – all these factors can be used to establish a world-class financial centre. Implementation of this project will give a fresh impetus to diversification of the economy of Kazakhstan. The formation of a fully-fledged financial system in addition to the banking sector, further integration of Kazakhstan into the global economy as well as strengthening the position of Astana as the financial hub of Central Asia. The most important social effects will be the creation of highly skilled jobs, improved transparency of the business environment and observance of the ethical business standards, as well as the attraction of highly skilled workforce from abroad, and improvements to living standards in Astana.





In one place parliamentarians, representatives of international organizations, civil activists, scholars as well as mayors and media from more than 50 fifty countries gathered. Nuclear disarmament was discussed amongst the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and the current the Director-General of United Nations Office in Geneva, the Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament and the Personal Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General Michael Møller, Executive Secretary of the CTBTO Lassina Zerbo and President of Inter-Parliamentary Union and PNND Co-President of Parliamentarians for Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) Saber Chowdhury. The forum was attended by the current President of the Pan-African Parliament Roger Nkodo Dang, the Vice President of Bulgaria, Margarita Popova, the current Speaker of Parliament and Honourable Senator of Rongelap Atoll, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Kenneth KedI and the Deputy Speaker of the Fiji Parliament, Ruveni Nadalo among many other dignitaries. The conference was organised in plenary session and four panel sessions on the themes: “Security without nuclear weapons or war: Manifesto “The World. The 21st century”, “A nuclear test ban and the role of the UN in achieving nuclear disarmament”, “National prohibition and nuclear-weapons-free zones”, “Initiatives and campaigns - legislators, religious leaders and civil society”. On 29th August 1991 the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, officially closed the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, which was a major site for testing nuclear weapons for the Soviet Union. It was one of the first steps in the history of world nuclear disarmament. It is worth noting that the people of Kazakhstan voluntarily renounced the fourth largest nuclear arsenal and joined the Treaty on the comprehensive prohibition of nuclear tests.

From 29th to 31st August, in Astana (Kazakhstan), the international conference “Building a Nuclear Weapon Free World” was held and dedicated to the closing of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site.

In the 25 years of independence of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev has initiated a number of initiatives in support of achieving a world without nuclear weapons. These have included the repatriation of all nuclear weapons in Kazakhstan to Russia for elimination, negotiations on a Zone free of nuclear weapons with other countries of Central Asia, the proposal of the UN General Assembly on the International day against nuclear tests, the creation of the ATOM project to teach the world about the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and the beginning of a universal Declaration for a world free of nuclear weapons which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2015. In the spring of 2016 Nursultan Nazarbayev acted in accordance with the Manifesto “The World. XXI Century”, which




gained the status of official document of the UN General Assembly and UN Security Council. The Manifesto expresses the desire for a world without nuclear weapons that should be the main goal of humanity in the 21st century and must be achieved no later than the centennial anniversary of the United Nations in 2045. The conference participants discussed the problems of disarmament and non-proliferation, expressed their proposals on the strengthening of international security. It was proposed to establish a prize for achievements in the field of nuclear disarmament. The international conference was the adoption of the document “Vision of Astana from the radioactive darkness to a world without nuclear weapons.�


Parliamentarians, religious leaders, representatives of international organizations, scientists, doctors, lawyers and civil society representatives urged governments of all countries: 1. To sign and ratify the comprehensive nuclear-test-ban (CTBT), especially nuclear weapon states. 2. To initiate negotiations and substantive discussions in accordance with the 2010 adopted Programme of action for the Treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT) and the universal obligation to negotiate for complete nuclear disarmament, approved by the International court of justice in 1996. 3. To establish a zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, in accordance with the agreements reached at the 1995 Conference on review and extension of the NPT and call on the UN Secretary-General to ensure the implementation of this decision; and to establish additional zones free from nuclear weapons, including North-East Asia, Europe and the Arctic. 4. To reduce the risks of the use of nuclear weapons by the withdrawal of all nuclear forces from a high operational readiness, adopting a policy of not using nuclear weapons first and refraining from any threat of use of nuclear weapons. 5. To comply fully with their obligations under the treaties and customary law in the achievement of “Nuclear Zero”. 6. To start in 2017, multilateral negotiations to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons. 7. To support interim measures of the UN Security Council for nuclear disarmament, including nuclear test ban and choice of residential areas as targets for nuclear strikes. 8. To continue the development of methods and mechanisms of verification to ensure global nuclear disarmament, including through the International partnership for the verification of nuclear disarmament. 9. To exclude the calculation on nuclear deterrence in security doctrines and instead, to resolve international conflicts through diplomacy, law, regional mechanisms, the UN and other means.

“In this well-documented file, the authors present their proposal to create a new global “laboratory” where people can see and experience a world order in which nobody is being neglected and everybody’s contributions are appreciated and integrated in a society which responds to all material, spiritual, psychological, economic and ecological demands or our times.” - Charles van der Leeuw Member of the Eurasian Economic Club of Scientists ISBN: 978-1910886267 RRP: £ 17.50

10. All nuclear-weapon States to make deep reductions in nuclear weapons with a view to the speedy and total elimination, but definitely no later than the 100-year anniversary of the United Nations. AVAILABLE: WWW.AMAZON.CO.UK WWW.DISCOVERY-BOOKSHOP.COM





THE BIG INTERVIEW: SHAMSH KASSIM-LAKHA Shamsh Kassim-Lakha is the Executive Chairman of the Board Executive Committee of the University of Central Asia (UCA), leading the planning and building of UCA’s three campuses in Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan. He has a long association with UCA and developed the concept document for the University with His Highness the Aga Khan. In 2014, Kassim-Lakha was appointed diplomatic representative of the Aga Khan Development Network to the Kyrgyz Republic. Open Central Asia went to find out more in this exclusive interview. OCA: Please give us an introduction to the work of AKDN. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha: For more than 60 years, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has been building institutions and delivering essential services by creating schools and hospitals, newspapers and electricity generation plants, and social programmes helping improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people in places as varied as Cairo, Kabul, Delhi and Bamako. AKDN has been operating in Central Asia since 1995. Cooperation between Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic began earlier, however, following the famine in Gorno Badakhshan Oblast (GBAO), Tajikistan. At that time, His Highness the Aga Khan was requested to supply food and basic resources for the region which was in great need.The Kyrgyz Government was instrumental in AKDN’s relief efforts by facilitating this aid delivery through its territory because poor infrastructure from Dushanbe to Khorog required transport through the Osh, Kyrgyzstan corridor. In principle, AKDN only undertakes development programmes when invited by a country, so we came to the Kyrgyz Republic at the invitation of the Government. The Kyrgyz Government

appreciated the outcomes of AKDN’s efforts in Tajikistan, and in 1995 when His Highness the Aga Khan came to Bishkek to thank the Government for its assistance in famine relief, the authorities requested AKDN to assist the newly independent country with economic, social and educational projects. His Highness responded very positively to this request from a friendly nation. Similarly, the Government of Tajikistan also requested His Highness to help in fields of education, financial services and rural development as AKDN has considerable experience in all these spheres of development. Be it in northern Gilgit-Baltistan in Chitral provinces of Pakistan, in India or in Africa, we have extensive experience working with rural communities to promote development through self-help community based programmes that focus on sustainable interventions. For example, in rural development, AKDN offers scientific support for animal husbandry or agriculture and engineering training in irrigation for water infrastructure. The eventual outcome of the request by the Kyrgyz Republic was the establishment of the Aga Khan School in Osh, which is now 15 years old and the establishment of the Kyrgyzstan Investment and Credit Bank (KICB), now the second

largest bank in the country. We also established the First Micro Finance and Credit Company (FMCC) headquartered in Osh, which operates around the country. In Tajikistan, we have similar financial services institutions as well as the Aga Khan Lycee and Family Medicine and Diagnostic Centres in Khorog. Dushanbe also has a similar health centre, as well as the Serena Hotel, which is part of the Serena chain, with locations in Pakistan, Eastern Africa and Kabul. The Aga Khan Foundation’s programmes in the rural areas of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are amongst our most successful programmes in Central Asia. AKF’s programmes for improving early childhood education, self-governance in the rural community, and advice to farmers to diversify their crops have now become role models for many others including civil society organisations. For example, greenhouse crops were not grown or very well known in Kyrgyzstan, so we introduced green house technology a few years ago. This model has since become ubiquitous, like wi-fi, and farmers are now growing cucumbers all year round. Earlier, we never had cucumbers or tomatoes in the month of March. Now these farmers enjoy good profits because nobody can typically find cu-




cumbers or tomatoes in March and April. So this greenhouse technology has significantly enhanced farmer incomes. AKDN’s largest single investment in the region is the University of Central Asia (UCA). It is an institution established by the Governments of Tajikistan, Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan and the Ismaili Imamat under an International Treaty signed in 2000, ratified by the respective parliaments and registered with the United Nations. Under its Charter UCA as a secular, not-for-profit, private University and will offer an internationally recognised standard of higher education, especially to meet the needs of the mountain societies in Central Asia. OCA: Why does AKDN focus on the mountains? SK-L: Globally, many universities are focusing on desert, coastal regions and islands, but mountain regions remain un-


derserved. If you look at high altitude societies around the world, there is a common phenomenon: the higher the altitude where people live, the higher the level of poverty. This is because remote communities lack the means to earn an adequate living during the short seasons and face challenges in accessibility to education, health and other services that keep them marginalised. There is a greater risk for people in these marginalised societies to become radicalised. If you can bring that marginalised population into the mainstream by providing access to high quality education as well as professional and vocational skills, they will become job creators and not solely job seekers. Take a look at Switzerland. Switzerland is a mountainous region, which experienced similar limitations: snow in the winter, where you can’t grow anything. As a consequence in the past, many Swiss migrated, much like Central Asians

who now migrate to Russia and elsewhere in search of livelihoods. But Switzerland no longer has those levels of outwards migration. Thanks to high quality education, they have strengthened their human resources and diversified their skills and talents. Now Swiss youth are in engineering, banking and pharmaceutical industries.The Swiss discovered ways of making a living through tourism, earning income while confined to the mountains during winter months. People go to the mountains to ski in the winter, hike in the summer, buy cheese and local products, and enjoy mountain air and scenery. So we believe that promoting entrepreneurship and offering the highest standards of education will support the people of Central Asia’s mountain regions to shape their own destinies. Our objective is to help create the capacities and opportunities for economic and social development through jobs and businesses that suit the culture and environment of these unique communities and turn current liabilities into future assets.

the three Presidents during deliberations on establishing the University in 2000. The Presidents and His Highness the Aga Khan agreed that because the capital cities of each country had multiple institutions of higher education, the greatest impact of this new university would be felt if campuses were located in mountain regions of each respective country where communities suffer from lack of good quality education. Inhabitants there have access to fewer resources and are more socially vulnerable than citizens living in large cities. In these mountainous regions, high levels of poverty often leave populations marginalised, creating an environment where radicalism can gain a foothold. In Naryn, the collapse of the Soviet Union meant a collapse in local economic life. But despite being one of the most economically depressed places in the country, Naryn is also the fountainhead of many cultures and heritages in the Kyrgyz Republic. It’s good to be in a place with such a storied history of diversity, exchange and new ideas.

The UCA Campus in Naryn, in the Kyrgyz Republic, has already admitted its first undergraduate residential students and offers degree programmes in Computer Sciences as well as Communications and Media. In Tajikistan, UCA will specialise in Economics, especially for small and medium businesses, and in Earth and Environmental Science. UCA selected these majors following a detailed market survey established demand for these specialisations. We have not chosen them randomly; we want UCA degree programmes to have strong ties to the job market and prepare graduates to be gainfully employed professionals. Recently, when some people learnt that UCA would be in Naryn, entrepreneurs from Bishkek indicated plans to set up a software development company nearby, allowing businesses to employ our Computer Sciences students as interns in the summer. The study of Earth and Environmental Science is also vital to the future of the region.

OCA: When will the University admit its first undergraduate students?

Climate change has a significant effect on Central Asia. The more severe climate change becomes, the greater the likelihood of extreme weather events such as heavy rain, floods and avalanches. These events result in much loss of lives. Earthquakes are very frequent and can trigger avalanches in the mountains. Part of UCA’s objective is to teach students how to study, research and predict some of these climate related changes to minimise their impact on society. OCA: How do you select locations for your organisation and why Naryn? SK-L: For reasons explained earlier, sites for the main campuses in Naryn (Kyrgyzstan), Khorog (Tajikistan) and Tekeli (Kazakhstan), all in mountain regions, were put forward to

SK-L: Classes at the Naryn campus begin this September for 72 students, admitted entirely on merit from the three Founding States and a small number from Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Khorog campus opens in Fall 2017 and Tekeli is to follow a couple of years later. This is just the first of four phases at each of the three campuses.When fully completed, the cost of each campus is estimated at US$500 million, a total regional investment of US$1.5 billion. In Naryn, UCA has already made additional investments to improve citizens’ quality of life of by strengthening social infrastructure. A town park, a Family Medicine and Diagnostic Centre and a Centre for Early Childhood Development are the first to come on line. OCA: What is the language of instruction and mode of communication at UCA? SK-L: After an extensive review of many countries, including the needs in Central Asia, the Founders of the University came to the conclusion that English should be the medium of instruction. Today, English is not only the language of the United Kingdom but of the world. In Europe, English is a predominant language of research on the Internet and in books, magazines and academic articles; in Russia you will find many universities teaching courses in English, for example at the Higher School of Economics, Moscow. The big challenge of locating campuses in mountain areas is the recruitment of the right quality of teaching faculty, because living in small mountain communities is a significant com-




mitment. But we are truly an international institution, and we continue to attract candidates from universities in Central Asia, North America, Europe, South Asia and elsewhere. We have already sent 42 Central Asian scholars abroad to obtain their PhD degrees and prepare to be teachers and researchers at UCA. Among the other major challenges UCA faces is the incoming students’ level of preparedness. In the UK, for example, students enter universities after completing 12 grades of education; in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, high school students graduate after 11 grades. So we need to prepare our students for a rigorous university level education. To achieve this, we introduced a one-year preparatory programme focussed on upgrading science, critical thinking, English and maths skills. A minimum standard of English is required of all students who apply to UCA.

OCA: Are you satisfied with UCA’s progress and where do you see the University in the next five years? SK-L: We signed the agreement in 2000 with the three governments and then selected campus locations in Naryn (Kyrgyz Republic), Khorog (Tajikistan) and Tekeli (Kazakhstan). We put forward a proposal to the three Presidents and


made the collective decision to open this university. Then came land selection and appointment of architects. This process is now in its 16th year with our doors opening this September. This progress is not only limited to the University’s campus site; we are also helping to transform Naryn into a vibrant university community. We are building a Smart Park in the heart of Naryn, offering green space, exercise areas and wireless Internet to create a public space for use by all residents. We are also improving the quality and access to health care with the newly established Family Medicine and Diagnostic Centre, Centre for Early Childhood Development. We are also helping Naryn authorities with town planning. It is very difficult to build in these areas, so opening the UCA Naryn campus is a significant accomplishment in scale and scope; UCA has employed hundreds of local employees and engaged local and regional contractors. The cost of construction in Naryn is around US$85 million, and a bit more expensive in Khorog and Tekeli because of logistics and higher construction costs. We are satisfied with our progress, and while there is always room for improvement, as an academic institution we have the good fortune of documenting these experiences and learning from our successes and setbacks. Of course, the opening is just the beginning: Oxford is 800 years old and Harvard is 375 years old. It will take time for UCA to gain global recognition.

Fortunately, we have some experience building universities. I myself was appointed by His Highness to build and operate the Aga Khan University (AKU) and its large teaching hospital in Karachi, Pakistan. We went on to build and operate campuses in Africa, in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and established a campus in UK, for the AKU-Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations. AKU programmes are working in Egypt, in Syria until recently and in Afghanistan, where we have quality health service and education facilities. Medical and nursing graduates of AKU are highly recognised in North America, Europe and elsewhere. So we have experience offering quality higher education. It took almost 20 years to achieve that status, and required a significant level of commitment and sustained hard work. I hope it will take less time for UCA, but this only be possible with hard work and dedication to towards high quality research, teaching and service to the community.And in five years, we will see our inaugural class of undergraduates from across Central Asia complete their degrees and graduate, while new students continue to enroll and receive a world class education at each UCA campus in Tajikistan, Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan. Our results can only be judged on the basis of the performance of several graduating classes as they enter their professions and demonstrate their creativity and entrepreneurship. OCA: How will you best prepare students for the future? SK-L: The opening of UCA’s first campus in Naryn is only the first phase. Undergraduate students will be heavily engaged in community service, developing social projects in our campus towns and launching student businesses. During summer breaks, students will complete a compulsory internship placing them in positions within businesses, government departments or non-governmental organisations. These vital real world experiences will be attractive to employers and prepare the graduates to transition into the job market. Our goal is to develop our students into entrepreneurs with the skills and experience to become job creators and unlock the region’s economic potential. In the coming phases, UCA will work with the Founding States to further strengthen the public education system and improve the quality of their secondary school graduates. This is a major challenge given resource constraints but we are encouraged by our partnerships with the Founding States, which are strongly committed to improve school education. Meanwhile, UCA will continue to offer a five-year undergraduate degree programme so that students are adequately prepared for the University’s rigorous international academic standards. OCA: How do you see UCA’s growth in the coming years SK-L: It is too early to predict UCA’s growth trajectory at this early stage. However, we are already undertaking studies and consultations to determine the next phases of growth in terms of new disciplines, introduction of graduate studies and strengthening of UCA’s research capacity. After all, an important aspiration of UCA is to become a leading research university that is recognised for its contribution to creating knowledge.

Viewed from the perspective of three generations, Shahidi presents a rare and poignant insight into the impact which Tajikistan’s terrible civil war had on its people and its culture during the early ‘90s. Informed partly by her own experiences as a journalist, these beautifully interwoven stories are imbued with both her affection for her native land and her hopes for its future. The narrators –   Horosho, his granddaughter Nekbaht , her husband Ali and his cousin Shernazar – each endure harrowing episodes of loss, injustice and violence but against all odds, remain driven by a will to survive,  and restore  peace,  prosperity and new opportunities for themselves and fellow citizens.





KYRGYZSTAN FOCUS: INVESTMENT IN TOURISM Imagine an opportunity to turn the clock back and invest in the developing tourism sector in Switzerland 60 years ago. A time when investments were reasonable, and investors were afforded significant returns on investment. Now fast forward to the Kyrgyz Republic. Kyrgyzstan has on numerous occasions been referred to as the Switzerland of Central Asia and this comparison is not with good reason. The countries share similar topography, both being landlocked countries at the heart of their respective regions, with a majority of mountainous terrain. Kyrgyzstan also shares much of the natural beauty of Switzerland. Kyrgyzstan is a new country. About to celebrate its 25th Anniversary of Independence, tourism is just beginning to grow. Statistically, Kyrgyzstan lags behind global norms. As a member State of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, it experiences 4.1% economic contribution from the tourism sector versus a global average of 9.5% of contribution to Gross Domestic Product. Similarly, if one compares another country with similar topography, New Zealand, the economic contribution of tourism jumps to 17.4%. Thus the Kyrgyz tourism industry has strong potential for growth. And with what is termed “feeder markets� or sources of tourist growth from India and China, the two largest markets in the world, the industry in its current form has a long term shortage of necessary infrastructure. With warming political and economic ties as well as direct air links with its two large neighbors, there is now the ability to tap into markets that are three billion people strong.


Issyk-Kul Lake is the tenth largest body of water by volume and the second largest Alpine lake in the world. With the surrounding mountains, this makes for an alpine wonderland and the area has been designated as a UNESCO Biosphere for its diversity. At present, the lack of infrastructure provides a limited season for the tourism sector, but this is changing rapidly with projects aimed at prolonging the season in a sustainable fashion. One priority at present is to develop the Issyk-Kul Region. With Tamchy Airport recently commencing operations and Karakol Airport under re-development, the area now can accommodate air links with regional markets. With international funding, facilities continue to evolve, increasing the connectivity of people and businesses to local and global services, markets and opportunities across borders. First and foremost is the development of the facilities for the World Nomad Games. These facilities comprise of an

internationally rated Hippodrome, with a track designed and constructed by French experts; and the Gazprom Sports and Convention Centre, which incorporates Kyrgyzstan’s largest pillar-less ballroom, capable of facilitating functions of up to 700 guests. Privately funded, these facilities are a start to developing the Region to its fullest potential. The sporting facilities are the first phase of world class venues for year round training for international sports teams. The focus of the Complex will be the Convention Centre. With MICE business (Meetings, Incentive, Conference and Exhibition) growing and ever-seeking new and exotic locations, Issyk-Kul fits this requisite perfectly. Already booked prior to opening is a Global Economic Forum for May 2017 with an attendance of 350 global Chief Executive Officers planned, including multiple billionaires and Senior Heads of State, organised through the world-renowned, Horasis – The Global Visions Community, an economic think tank based out of Switzerland whose Forums have been called a mini-World Economic Forum by the New York Times. This conference will present the opportunities of Kyrgyzstan as a gateway to the Eurasian Economic Union and Russia, and will place the area on the map for foreign direct investment. One of the largest infrastructural projects in the region is the Issyk-Kul Water Park and Hotel Complex. Being developed by BHI Hotels in conjunction with Russian based Kvarsis Group and Kyrgyz property developer, Premium Developments, the Complex will provide Cholpan-Ata, the main town on the North Shore of Lake Issyk-Kul with year round tourism facilities. The centerpiece of the development will be a 22,000 square metre enclosed water park with adjacent 100 room three star international branded hotel, thermal centre and spa with a total built up area of 35,000 square metres. Located in the vicinity of the Hippodrome, the de-

velopment will provide synergy to the operations of the conferencing facilities of the Sports and Convention Centre. Further east, near the provincial capital of Karakol, is the planned Karakol Ski Cluster consisting of five international standard ski resorts. As skiing and snowboarding become more popular in the Region, the Ski Cluster will afford extensive pistes over several mountains in scenery that rivals the best of Europe. Utilising the latest European technology, and with the re-development of the Karakol Airport, the area will be a new destination for the winter sports markets of both Europe and South East Asia. With an aggressive long term strategy from the Department of Tourism under the Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism, there is a positive dynamic between the public and private sector emerging. Tourism development-friendly policies are making this the opportune time to invest in not only the Issyk-Kul Region, but Kyrgyzstan as a whole. The government has set the sector as an economic priority and understands that sustainable economic development will be strongly enhanced through growth of Tourism and preservation of environmental resources. Investors have strong support through the Investment Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Economy as well as a number of international consultancy and law firms which guide the investor through the processes. Thus Kyrgyzstan is ripe for investment. About the Author: Stiphan Beher heads the Hotel and Lodging Association of the Kyrgyz Republic and serves as Chairman of the Tourism Committee under the International Business Council as well as Advisor on Foreign Direct Investment to the Presidential Affairs Office of the Kyrgyz Republic.






Born in 1941 in the Kyrgyz Republic under the Soviet Union, Akmatov has first-hand experience of extreme political reactions to his work which deemed anti-Russian and anti-communist, resulted in censorship. Determined to fight for basic human rights in oppressed countries, he was active in the establishment of the Democratic Movement of


Kyrgyzstan and through his writing, continues to highlight problems faced by other central Asian countries. This year Kazat Akmatov would celebrate his 75th anniversary, but regretfully he passed away one year ago. But he left great heritage to be remembered.

The “Howl” is a beautifully crafted novel centered on life in rural Kyrgyzstan. The theme is universal and the contradictory emotions experienced by Kalen the shepherd must surely ring true to young men, and their parents, the world over. Here is a haunting and sensitively written story of a bitter-sweet rite of passage from boyhood to manhood. ISBN 978-0993044410

Munabiya is a tale of a family’s frustration, fury, sadness and eventual acceptance of a long term love affair between the widowed father and his mistress. In contrast, Shahidka is a multi-stranded story which focuses on the ties which bind a series of individuals to the tragic and ill-fated union between a local Russian girl and her Chechen lover, within a multi-cultural community where violence, corruption and propaganda are part of everyday life. ISBN 978-0957480759

“Arhat” caused a wide resonance at home and was awarded by a number of national and international awards as well recognized the best novel and the “National bestseller of 2007”. In the novel, it is a deal of the destiny of the Kyrgyz boy - the reincarnation of the great Tibetan Lama and poet who lived a thousand years ago... ISBN 978-1910886106

This novel is the most recent book by internationally acclaimed author and National Writer of Kyrgyzstan, to be translated into English. Based on a real incident which occurred in his country some ten years ago, it also references Akmatov’s own conflict with USSR officials, who accusing him of producing antiRussian and anti- Communist literature, censored much of his early work at the beginning of his career. ISBN 978-0957480766






AUCA’s PR office

When I first met Andrew Wachtel during an unseasonably warm April day in 2015, what struck me most about him – that is, besides the flash of chrome gray hair, pearly white short sleeves and electric blue plants – was his combination of ambition and realism with a sense of self and mission. WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM



Now, sitting together during an unseasonably cool August day in 2016, he still strikes me as groomed and no-nonsense, yet off-beat, as the saying goes: following the tune of his own drummer. That tune has led him all the way to Kyrgyzstan, and I want to find out where it may be taking him next. “Surprisingly, coming from America out here to Kyrgyzstan has made me unemployable back home,” says Wachtel in a way that almost sounds like the drummer has bumped headfirst into a tree. Off-beat, and as it turns out, off the beaten path.


From Berkeley to Bishkek Wachtel began walking his path as an undergraduate at Harvard University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and Literature in 1981. Six years later, he completed his Doctorate of Arts in Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of California-Berkeley.

Wachtel’s years at Northwestern proved formative for his career. By 2002, after writing and editing numerous academic volumes and articles on topics ranging from themes of death and resurrection in Lev Tolstoy to the dissolution of Yugoslavia, he had become Northwestern’s Bertha and Max Dressler Professor in the Humanities.

After three years at Stanford University, he was offered a tenured position at Northwestern University in 1991, eventually becoming the chair of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literature in 1997.

Then in 2003, Wachtel was elevated to the deanship of Northwestern’s Graduate School, a position he held until his move to AUCA in the Autumn 2010 semester. During this period, he carved out time to simultaneously serve for

six years as the director of Roberta Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies, as well as chairing numerous committees. What stands out in Wachtel’s curriculum vitae is not actually his administrative experience, but how he managed to combine his duties with scholarship: eight authored books, 11 edited and translated volumes, 17 editorials and policy papers, 57 interviews and book

Amidst the ruins It is a fascination I share. Ruins are nothing to fear or lament; to the contrary, as much as they may embody a failure, they also signal a promise. Think of them as nature’s great cyclic principle whispered within human history. This sense of promise was one of the reasons that I found myself out here in Kyrgyzstan. After all, where else does

Henry Kissinger once remarked about academia, “Never have the politics been so vicious for stakes so small,” and I have heard these words applied quite disparagingly to Wachtel by others. Yet, the man speaking to me right now could not be further from Kissinger’s snide dismissal. Wachtel does not mince words with himself, noting, “I am too good at making enemies,” and when he talks about his students, he is all the more genuine, not to mention idealistic. “My students are very professionally inclined – in a good way. They understand the harsh realities ahead of them, and they want the knowledge and skills necessary to have meaningful adult lives. And many of them will have such lives; many of our alumni already have.” The stakes are indeed quite large for Wachtel. “This region has so many problems. It is really only through education that it will have any chance.” This immediately brings to mind Kyrgyzstan as the choice for Wachtel’s hopes. Its neighborhood of authoritarian and teetering regimes is notorious to say the least. Is this country in any way special?

reviews, and a phenomenal 91 articles and book chapters according to the most recent summary of his works on the AUCA website.

one find the choicest ruins than on the edge of the map?

What seems to be the core of his research interests – the former Yugoslavia and Soviet Union; the role of history, especially the theme of origins, in the imagination of Slavic authors; the connections between authors and cultures during transitions – suggest a mind intrigued by construction, collapse and reconstruction. It seems the path Wachtel’s drummer has brought him down leads to ruins.

“It would have taken me a decade or more in America to climb the pyramid,” he explains.“Even then, it might not have happened. So I thought to myself: why stay on that pyramid? Why climb it?”

“It is true that Kyrgyzstan is the most open country in Central Asia and one of the most open in the former Soviet Union. Why that is the case is debatable. The Soviets’ mental mapping was very consistent across all these societies, so trying to argue about an essential element in Kyrgyz culture is dubious. Nonetheless, the choices that were made here since independence were certainly different.”

“But it was also never just that, and it’s still not just that,” he adds. “What gets me up every morning is this feeling, knowing that I am building some kind of future here in the lives each of my students.”

Wachtel pauses, thinks for a moment, then comes to the essence of the matter: “Whatever the reasons behind how Kyrgyzstan evolved, it presents a unique opportunity in this region. I can build something here.”

Wachtel clearly was already onto this notion long before it occurred to me.



EDUCATION Building anew Wachtel and I are in the new campus of the American University of Central Asia (AUCA), and all around us are those themes of rebuilding from wreckage. The original facility was in an ancient, some would even say somewhat dilapidated, Soviet-era government building in the heart of downtown Bishkek. Professors and alumni from that period of AUCA’s history still remember fondly the old murals of Vladimir Lenin and Karl Marx on the walls. Indeed, the old campus was nothing less than a relic. The new facility is enormous and fresh: an 180,000 square foot rectangular cuboid housing 60 classrooms within its nickel-on-ash checkerboard facade and angular gabled rooftop. Designed by Henry Myerberg, principle architect of the New York City-based firm HMA2, according to the company’s official statement of design philosophy, the new campus “speaks to nature and culture”, combining “local nomadic traditions of mobility and hospitality” with “an American style liberal arts education”. However, for Wachtel, “It is also about light and transparency. There are hardly any enclosed offices here, a high proportion of the walls are made from clear glass, there are no true corridors but instead wide walkways. Everything is open – literally.”

The new campus is nothing short of an achievement, and without meaning to sound sycophantic, I cannot help but feel that it is a monument to Wachtel’s own character. No wonder, then, that he is frustrated by his professional prospects in our mutual homeland. An “aloof outpost” In a bullet-point hidden away in Wachtel’s online curriculum vitae he writes about his time as president of AUCA: “Changed image of AUCA from aloof outpost of American values to partner in making a better Kyrgyzstan.” Indeed, having steered the university for approximately the past five years, one would naturally expect that an ambitious man like Wachtel might already be itching for new endeavors. It is through this question that the topic of America arises. “The system back home is really riskaverse,” he explains with the tone of a man surprised by his own insight. “Presidents are selected from what turns out to be a very small pool of people – provosts or vice-presidents of Ivy League and Big Ten universities and places like that.”

Indeed, the heart of the building is a 5,000 square foot multi-purpose atrium. Natural light pours in from above and all of the major walkways revolve around it.

Fair enough. As any good historian would know, as empires mature and consolidate they tend to increasingly look inward for their human resources. Gradually, they develop a mainstream leadership culture that re-creates itself through institutional means. Yet, the United States is not a normal empire, more Athenian than Roman in character. One would expect it to be far more open to difference.

“This is an important statement in a country and in a region that has serious problems with corruption and dim ‘behind-closed-doors’ deals, not just in government, but in education, as well,” he explains.

Alas, this is not the case, says Wachtel. “The decision to come out here is seen as crazy by my colleagues in the United States. The reasons to come out here were and remain clear to me, but not to them.”


“Not only is Kyrgyzstan in their perspective a backwater, but because it’s got a ‘-stan’ tacked onto the end of its name, it’s also somehow a weird and dangerous place. Anyone who would willingly come out here, not just as a visiting researcher but really to have a career, must be by extension a weird and maybe dangerous person.” American power encompasses the globe, which itself is increasingly, inexorably interconnected in no small part due to the enormous inventiveness and open-mindedness of American culture. Surely American society cannot afford to be so introverted, especially considering the myriad ways, from immigration to terrorism to transnational economic integration, that it is continually pried open? “Being a provost or vice-president of some well-established American university is simply more intelligible to them than being the president of a small liberal arts institution in a distant country,” Wachtel replies with a shrug. “It’s a signifier of professional distinguishment, respect for an established system, ability to work within and navigate that system, and so on.” “Look, I obviously don’t agree with them. It’s their problem.” A pause. “Although, unfortunately, because it’s their problem, it becomes our problem, too.” And as Wachtel says this, he looks at me. Tulgan jerdin topu... If at the age of 57 Wachtel is facing the final crest of his career, by dint of my younger age I am further behind in the trail, facing the first significant crest of mine – getting my first decent journalistic publications in some years while entering the academic hierarchy as a full-time lecturer at none other than AUCA itself.

I also came to Central Asia to build.Yet, like Wachtel, I do not just want to help build the human terrain here, but also dig out the path of my own life. It is thus a little bit daunting to hear that our similar professional choices may have inadvertently run the risk of exiling ourselves far from home. Immediately, the Kyrgyz proverb comes to mind: Tulgan jerdin topu-ragy altyn – The sand of one’s homeland is as valuable as gold. “Well, alright, in any given academic year there’s something like 150 American colleges and universities looking for new presidents,” Wachtel says after seeing the look on my face. “I’m sure that one of those would hire me. The real question is: would I really want to work there after here?” And he is right. Of course, a key part of a scholar’s life exists beyond time and place. For the other parts that are firmly rooted in the tangible, Central Asia has so much to offer. For all of the famed American discourse on innovation and flexibility, the actual structure does appear to be remarkably crystallized. “As president of AUCA, I have to be involved in every aspect of the operation, from human resources to fundraising to the design of the campus,” says Wachtel. “If I was the president of some small liberal arts college in the United States, my job would be very clear and fixed. It is just more challenging and interesting to be in a context like this.” Beyond the ruins Speaking of challenges, we finally come to the crucial question: what lies ahead on the path? “I don’t know,” he says bluntly. “I’m keeping my eyes open for what may be beyond Kyrgyzstan, but I’ve still got a lot to do here.” Wachtel’s hoped-for projects seem to rouse him as much as his students. He

talks at length about two important ones, both still in the negotiation phase: incorporating the Kyrgyz Institute of Seismology into AUCA and establishing a medical school, replete with a modern hospital. If these projects are realized, then AUCA will have firmly established itself in Central Asia as an institution of higher education in the fullest sense and provide crucial services to Kyrgyzstan in particular. “There are at least two really critical bodies of knowledge that are needed for a mountainous and economically struggling country like Kyrgyzstan,” explains Wachtel. “Earth sciences, like geology, hydrology and seismology, and health sciences, especially medicine.” Regarding the seismology institute, who is AUCA’s immediate neighbor here in its new campus, Wachtel sings its praises, commending it as “Kyrgyzstan’s sole true scientific body,” with reputable peer-reviewed publications in important journals. He is of a radically different opinion regarding the current state of Kyrgyzstan’s healthcare system, including its medical schools: “It’s a horror.” Both of these projects are ambitious, and by now one would expect nothing less of Wachtel. They are also the type of endeavors that require long-term commitment – and he knows it. “I’m coming to a crossroads. There’s definitely no going back, but if I don’t turn left or right, I must continue going straight.” As Wachtel says this, I can sense that if his path does continue straight, he would be deeply content with such a fate. And when I look ahead at my own path, with all its unknown twists and turns through ruins and beyond, I find that I am very much looking forward to the journey.

Sima Omid, a British-Iranian anthropologist in search of her Turkic roots, takes on a university teaching post in Kyrgyzstan. It is the year following 9/11, when the US is asserting its influence in the region. Disillusioned with her long-standing relationship, Sima is looking for a new man in her life. But the foreign men she meets are mostly involved in relationships with local women half their age, and the Central Asian men she finds highly male chauvinist and aggressive towards women. ISBN: 978-0993044465 RRP: £ 19.95




Belt and Road Initiative: Theory and Practice Nowadays the Belt and Road Initiative (B&R Initiative) is a large-scale initiative which forms a new paradigm of economic and geostrategic development. More than 60 countries with a general population of 4.4 billion intend to participate in the implementation of this strategy. It constantly attracts new followers. Over $ 1 billion US dollars has been already invested in the project. The new realisation of the Great Silk Road has no clear geographical framework. Beijing supports open doors policy in this project, as it was stated in the report by the State Council of the Peoples Republic of China “Great Perspectives and Practical Realization of the Belt and Road Initiative in the 21st century”. Main directions of the B&R Initiative: It is planned to create seven “zones”:

The main characteristics of several “zones” are described below, with focus to the transport and logistics.

• Transport and Logistics

Transport and logistics zone

• Energy

“In order to become rich - we must first build roads”. This old saying is often used by Chinese experts who discuss the main directions of the Belt & Road Initiative strategy.

• Shopping • Information • Science and Technology • Agricultural • Tourist


The high-speed rail network, which connects all provincial centers in China excites the whole world. Its length exceeds 19 000 kms, which is 60% of the total length of the railways in the world.

The second most important in the Road & Belt Initiative strategy is the energy zone. A significant shortage of energy resources is peculiar for most of the Eurasia territory. That is why there is te need to create new generating capacities everywhere. Such projects are available and the applicable financial resources will make them feasible. The emphasis is supposed to be on the “green energy”.

said that this can be done “only by close cooperation in the innovation sphere.” Recently China has overtaken many advanced countries by a number of indicators in the field of scientific and technological progress. The first step is the planned creation of a Russian-Chinese High-Tech Park “Silk Road” on the basis of Skolkovo. The Innovation Center will house research departments of leading Chinese companies.

The most radical proposal is to create a unified energy system for the B&R countries. It is a network of interconnected gas and oil pipelines, and electricity networks to cover the whole territory of Eurasia and join the forces of both producers and consumers.

Specifics of participation of particular countries in the B&R Initiative

A more rapid effect can produce the formation of the tourist zone of the B&R. In 2015, more than 100 million Chinese tourists travelled abroad. They spent over 150 billion dollars travel money. Russia is entering a highly competitive Chinese tourist market with a significant movement in this direction. Serious progress has been made in 2013-2014, during the years of tourist exchange between the two countries. A special place in the B&R Initiative Strategy in reserved for the science and technology zone. The B&R Initiative Strategy consistently plans closer scientific and technological cooperation. Recently, the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang

First of all, the strategy of the B&R Initiative received unconditional support in Central Asia, especially in Kazakhstan and Kirgiz Republic. That is why Xi Jinping has chosen these countries to promote the initiative. Almost all other CIS countries supported the strategy. It is planned that not only for the countries of Central Asia, but the Caucasus countries as well: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia will participate. The B&R Initiative strategy attracts European countries as well.

Partnership between the EAEU and the B&R Initiative On May 8th 2015 the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China signed the Joint Statement on cooperation




between the Eurasian Economic Union and the Road & Belt Initiative. However, the actual structure of the EAEU started to work on January 1, 2015 and has not yet gained the necessary tempo of work. With limited financial resources, EAEU does not have sufficient weight to implement the projects.

Major projects Announced High-speed railway Moscow-Beijing One of the top priority projects is the construction of the high-speed railway Moscow - Kazan, with the expansion to the South and the East (Beijing and the Pacific Ocean), and to the West (Rotterdam and the Atlantic Ocean). It is planned that in 2016 high-speed railway from China will reach the border with Kazakhstan. If from Kazan it will be routed through Kazakhstan, then in fact it will essentially limit transportation on the Trans-Siberian and the Baikal-Amur Railway, and this is not beneficial for the Russian side. If it will be pointed through the territory of Siberia, then Kazakhstan will be left unreasonably aside. Most experts believe that the most appropriate is to construct the road in both directions at the same time.


Arctic zone of the Silk Road The Arctic zone of the Silk Road is one of the most serious and large-scale projects proposed by Russia in the B&R strategy. The Arctic region of Russia currently provides 90% of the Russian nickel and cobalt production, 60% of copper, 96% of platinum-group metals, 80% of gas and 60% of oil and has a great potential for development of new deposits. Chinese companies already actively participate in Arctic projects. One of the largest Chinese companies CNPC joined the “Yamal LNG� project with a share of 20%.

Financial and banking security of the B&R Initiative The creation of a solid financial base testifies that the intentions to implement the B&R Initiative strategy are serious. In a short period of time (2014- 2015) three powerful financial institutions were created: the Silk Road Foundation, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and adjacent the New Development Bank (NDB), formerly referred to as the BRICS Development Bank. The Silk Road Foundation will play the leading role in these processes. China invested into this Foundation some $40


billion US dollars. On June 29th 2015 in Beijing representatives of 57 countries signed an agreement establishing the AIIB. It was announced that the financing of the first projects for the Bank will begin in the third quarter of 2016. Although the NDB does not directly declare its participation in the R&B Initiative strategy, but the leading bank participants - China, Russia and India, will undoubtedly promote their projects. This concerns as well the other shareholders of the Bank - Brazil and South Africa, which at the same time were among the founders of the AIIB. Currently, there is no clear implementation plan of the B&R initiative. The initiators study the reaction of potential partners, analyze the proposed projects, and carry out a large number of conferences, meetings, and round tables. Most likely, this strategy is being developed through trial and error.The points of view of the partners and the participants of the strategy influence this development.

Hertfordshire Press presents the publication of Herold Berger’s personal and scholarly essay on these two giants of world literature. Berger’s unique stance is to follow the dictates of his imagination, inspired by a close life-long study of Goethe and Abai, and, alongside many detailed scholarly investigations, e.g. his comparative study of Goethe and Abai’s innovations in poetic metre, form and consonance, or of the sources and background of Goethe’s Eastern inspired masterpiece West-East Divan, Berger muses openly about the personal impact that Goethe and Abai have had on him.


text by Vladimir Remyga




World politics Along the Silk Route: A Quarter Century of Foul Play Photograph by Han Schipper © 2016

This year, it is a quarter century ago that the former Soviet republics along the ancient Silk Route got their independence – unasked for by most, following the implosion of the USSR. It has degraded them to post-colonial economies, in sharp contrast to what western propagandists “promised” populations after their “liberation”. A book, written in early 2015 by Dutch author Charles van der Leeuw and published over summer the same year, explains the way western power-brokers have abused the situation to trigger “revolutions” in ex-Soviet states in order to keep their economies cash-strapped. Only now it emerges how true that all was, and still is, making the book worthwhile re-reading.

by Shirin Aslanbayev


In “Cold War II: Cries in the Desert – or how to counterbalance NATO’s propaganda from Ukraine to Central Asia”, the author describes how Washington’s industrial-political clique in power had hoped to “monetarise” the USSR first after the Second World War and after Stalin refused to take part in the Marshall Plan once more in the 1980s and early 1990s when the Soviet Union was “brought on its knees” – or so it was thought. But Russia once more refused to sell out its resources and instead set up its own capital-generating mechanism. This kept the so-called bipolar world, now stripped of all ideological display, intact. It became tripolar with the entry of China in the global economy as an independent force, but in any case a unipolar world is off the agenda while western sharks lick their wounds and Central Asia’s ex-Soviet republics are having a little comfort. “The hero-versus-villain rhetoric made in USA and copied in Brussels has come back to the surface in full flood after everybody was made to believe that it had been buried following the break-up of the USSR back in 1991,” Mr. Van der Leeuw’s book reads. “Buried alive, that is: it is simply impos-

sible to make nearly half a billion people in the world change their minds overnight and throw a deep conviction which may have its faults but was and still is profoundly based on human solidarity and prosperity sharing through communal harmony rather than internal struggle falsely dubbed competition down the drain without much further thinking. Now, the vampires have crawled out of their coffins once more. Championed by the United States of America, or rather its ruling elites since within America’s society there are plenty who still rightly refuse to believe Washington’s propaganda machinery, the much-trumpeted “western victory” sealing the end of the Cold War did not end in a lasting peace.” Events into the new century have made it clear that “the West” does not want to give up its quest to reduce the former USSR to post-colonial vassal economies. “Today, like it or not: with Cold War II in full swing, economics and business have become more political than ever, and attempts by corporate enterprises to stay out of the Dirty Information War accompanying it have remained by and large futile,” in the book’s words. “It all began on the very first day of the so-

Preaching hell and damnation



OPINION stretches all over the two Democrat and Republican mainstreams, both dominated by reactionary elements leaving serious opposition without political clout and ever on the losing end of the ‘democratic’ system. As long as the absence of a political pendulum in that system persists, so will the illusion, leaving little hope for the return of a friendly rather than an ugly American in Central Asia.”

A provocative tone of voice called Maidan Revolution, which was to result in the violent overthrow of the government of Ukraine. Ever since, the western Brotherhood of Hatred has subsequently bombarded audiences around the globe with propaganda under the guise of so-called information, full-heartedly aided by both traditional news media and new, mainly cybernetic outlets. Throughout the process, reactions from Russia and other former Soviet republics remained by and large cool and even today the ferocious attacks preaching hell and damnation over the former USSR are merely shrugged off by politicians and commentators in the region alike. As a result of this, as well as the rise of critical movements versus the US/EU war trumpeting machinery in Europe and the Americas, a propaganda war between media outlets themselves seems to have broken out, with some of them accusing others of spreading biased information under the guise of news and analyses on the payroll of various parties in the ‘New Great Game’.” The solution to the threat does not consist of beating the enemy but disarming it. Barricades and “regime changes” (real ones, not artificial ones) are needed in America and to lesser extents in the EU, the author argues. “The message, made in USA, is clear: there is no future in the way USA and (to lesser extents) the EU try to bully Central Asia to maintain a political spearhead in an area that finds itself at the heart of the Russia-China-India triangle,” the book reads in its conclusion. “In the eyes of hawkish parties in the USA, that spearhead should consist of Ukraine, the southern Caucasus and from there straight across the Caspian to the very gates of China. The more Washington hangs on to that illusion and fails to heed its critics at home, the stronger resistance on the ground against it is bound to become. The trouble seems to be that the target of American criticism


Charles van der Leeuw is known for his books on the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia. His work goes far back into history. Throughout his writings, he has consistently looked for “the other side of the story” – e.g. was Kuwait all that innocent and Iraq all that guilty when the first clash between the two oil powers occurred? Were the Armenians “only defending themselves” when they attacked Azerbaijan, taking one-sixth of its territory, killing tens of thousands and chasing over a million from their homes? And now, are “the Russians” threatening to suppress the poor honest Ukrainians and are the western “capitalists” the heroes to preserve the latters’ “freedom”? Arguments by western media outlets and commentators may have been taken for granted by western media initially, but in the end they all fall through. Mr. Van der Leeuw’s books all prove it – maybe in a provocative tone of voice but in the end the message of the tune prevails over it.

Stronger resistance on the ground

NOTE: Charles van der Leeuw’s book is available in London from Stanford Books, Covent Garden; Daunt Books, Marylebone; Pushkin House, Bloomsbury Square; and Arthur Probsthain, Great Russell Street; as well as at bookshops, hotels and souvenir shops throughout Central Asia, and online at www.discovery-bookshop.com, www.amazon.com, www. abebooks.co.uk.

ISBN 978-1910886076






The writer of a new book, entitled, “Abai and the Future of Kazakhstan” is no stranger to local audiences. Orazaly Sabden is best known, perhaps, as a scientist and public figure: an academician, as well as a winner of the State Prize of the Republic of Kazakhstan as best new author. Looking back, of course, Abai’s literary rubrics have been leading humanity to spiritual values for two centuries, which is why Abai has become a symbol of free speech and open-mindedness. The book outlines, therefore, the author’s intention to solve textual problems in the XXI century originally raised by this renowned thinker two centuries ago: issues proving relevant to this day. Hence, the great Abai still inspires contemporary readers through his spiritual intelligence and insights. Each a phenomenon known, honored, recognized, and loved, by young and old, rich and poor, alike. Overall, readers will find answers to a number of important questions first addressed by Abai, accompanied by reviews


from famous scientists and acknowledged experts. A book for everyone One cannot but admit that O. Sabden’s book “Abai and the Future of Kazakhstan” is greatly surprising in a positive way. Indeed, within his text, the author suggests that the XXI century will be an age wherein a “humanisation of society” occurs. A time when Abai’s advice “created for the people” will finally be reflected in the spiritual values of humankind at large. Reminiscent, therefore, of M. Auezov’s novel “The way of Abai”, it is reassuring to us (as researchers of his artwork), that O. Sabden contends his main goal is realized in the implicit need to tread a path to civilization by dint of Abai’s heritage. Additionally unique is Orazaly Sabden’s insistence that searching for mechanisms to implement the ideas of Abai, while offering a number of new recommendations and projects (such as the regulation of a global currency; models of management and the regulation of global processes), will propel his project into ever more deeply engaging modes of discourse and comparative understanding. With this in mind, it is interesting to read that O. Sabden proposes to create, in Kazakhstan, a new form of the Great Silk Road, “The Theological Academy Named after Abai», which can also serve as a centre for studying the spiritual heritage of Abai. As such, eastern philosophy - allied to a special vision of Eurasian space - could contribute to the development of future civilizations. Hence, this proposal serves as a moral reorientation in our current attitudes, partly explaining why the author makes an attempt, to outline fundamental ethical principles in the XXI century, answering questions such as “what will moral codes be like in the XXI century?” Of course, these are intellectual, as well as scientific is-

sues: all reflecting higher-consciousness and the possibility of a humane education. So, the potential transition from quantity to quality in our society is carefully examined. One observes that in some sections new technologies are defined as vehicles of radical change – a veritable second Industrial Revolution - as the general evolution of consciousness increases. Undoubtedly, as the author comments, only then will humankind be able to enjoy the fruits of peaceful progress. With such thoughts in mind, it is clear that this book is written for a global readership, which is appropriate since it associates Abai ideas with concepts from other planetary geniuses like Confucius, Nostradamus, etc. Thus, a commonality is introduced between the thoughts of Abai and the greater world community. There is one rather striking and original concept worth mentioning too – the idea of building - in the “Valley of Turkestan” - a new spiritual-technological cluster. Phrased differently, Sabden suggests constructing a city intended to become the spiritual capital of Turkestan: a veritable Theological Academy. Envisaged as such, this project would include a (planetary) historical and geographical museum, tourism and security. Moreover, this is not just a suggestion, but a specific recommendation to the powers that be: accompanied by financial calculations. Dauntingly, his advisors say this 8 billion dollar project is feasible, although, to date, this megaproject has no analogues. Nevertheless, the author believes his audacious plans will be realized, if not today, then undoubtedly in the future. All things considered, this intriguing book also presents readers with a huge amount of information regarding the outstanding personalities from our Turkic -Kazakh region. Each name begging

the question of preserving heritage for the next generation, while finding in them answers for many of today’s problems. Looking back, the last century took claims by the German Nobel Prize winning physicist Max Planck as guidelines towards such a higher-consciousness. Pundits are coming to believe that the whole world is interconnected by some unseen power. From this angle, the author inquires «fourth edification» into «What is the level of our spiritual values, at what level we are now, how can we upgrade?” Interestingly, in attempting to answer these questions O. Sabden announces, «Spiritual values ​​ must be considered incomparably superior to all others. Afterwards convincingly threading this idea through the teachings of Abai and inviting his readers to inquire for themselves. Taken together, this book represents interesting projects, which include original thoughts and philosophical trends - even though his readers should be acquainted with Abai from the outset. Nonetheless, Sabden’s work is innovative. Almost akin to spiritual food. Reminding us that sagacious books of this type are written infrequently. Perhaps, the author aims to present Abai from the point of view of modernity: inclusive of its socioeconomic convulsions. Possibly not! Either way, a strategy for solving present day crises within the sciences arises within these pages. Ailed, as they are, through being unable to break free from the chains of false atheistic and materialistic assumptions. To conclude, Sabden’s book shows us a better ideological path to follow, whilst suggesting ways to actually develop a world civilization. Abduali Kaydar academician of NAS RK Kakishev Tursunbek critic, scientist, academician Mekemtas Myrzahmetyly - academician



The Eurasian Creative Guild (London) is a new meeting place for creative talents. As an actual and virtual association, it generates a framework within which creative people from across the board can gather together and discuss their work. Indeed, the Guild has already enlisted dozens of significant cultural figures from across the globe due to its proactive support for writers, musicians, illustrators, graphic designers, sculptors and poets along with anyone else who considers themselves to be creative and seeks promotion of their works around the world for mutually beneficial cooperation. The Eurasian Creative Guild was founded in November 2015 as a public non-profit organization that has taken up the mission to create a common information space and unite creative people of Eurasian region.The founders of Guild are such world famous companies as Hertfordshire Press, Cambridge International Press and Silk Road Media Group. Advisory Board: The current chairman of Eurasian Creative Guild is a famous British author, poet, dramaturge and winner of numerous awards David William Parry.

Marat Akhmedjanov (Vice-Chairman ECG) Anna Lari (Director of the international literary festival OEBF) Siddharth Saxena (Professor of the Cavendish Laboratory of University of Cambridge) Sölvi Fannar (Actor, writer, musician, poet) Joseph Saunders (Professor of National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain) Lenifer Mambetova (Poetess, representative of Crimean Tatar community) Yuldosh Juraboev (Artistic Director of Orzu Arts, London) Nick Rowan (Editor-in-Chief “OCA magazine”) Yavneh Cyrus (Hollywood producer, scriptwriter, film director) Georgiy Pryahin (Journalist, writer, editor) Alesya Artemjeva (Artist, producer) Anatoliy Skargin (Director of the International Association “Generals of the World - for Peace”) The Guild operates at the national and international level in the name of the rights of creative freelancers and: • provides a platform to promote Guild members’ works •

unites Guild members all over the world and promotes their collaboration

wants the voices of creative people from Eurasian region to be heard, and considers it vital to unite them

acts as event organizer and helps with the search for partners among the other Guild members for the presentation and promotion of your name in other countries

Eurasian Creative Guild projects: • OCA magazine - a quarterly not-for-profit magazine, published in Great Britain since 2009, which connects and highlights the links between Europe and the Eurasian region. It promotes the cultures, politics, events and communities of both regions and opens a discussion and exchange of ideas between them to promote both business co-operation and tourist and cultural relations. The magazine is for everyone interested in the region and also for natives from Central Eurasia who currently live in Europe. It is thought-provoking for both international and Eurasian business communities and features a series of interviews with important figures from the world of politics and culture. The hard copy of the magazine is currently distributed mainly in 8 countries (UK, Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan) among over 1000 business companies and has over 2000 paid international subscribers. The magazine is also available at selected Universities, Embassies, Air companies and other organizations related to Central Eurasia in Russia, Central Asian countries, UK and USA. •

“Open Eurasia Literature Festival & Book Forum” - an annual international contest, festival and forum, which unites poets, writers, artists, directors along with anyone else, who considers themselves to be creative from the Eurasia region and all over the world. The overall purpose of the contest “Open Eurasia Literature Festival & Book Forum” is to draw the attention of readers, as well as specialists, to the achievements of Eurasian creative people. It also connects creative minds with representatives of publishing houses, new audiences, libraries, educational institutions and the media, has been warmly welcomed. Today the contest includes more than 1200 participants from 40 countries.

“Open Central Asia International ORZU Arts Festival” was the first International Arts Festival held in London. The festival invites artists from Central Asia to present the richness of the region’s performing arts and crafts, with folklore performances, concerts and exhibitions. The aim is to bring East and West together through international cultural exchange.

The annual collection of the “100 Outstanding People of Eurasia” is a project, together with the publishing house Cambridge International Press. The publication seeks to enlighten, promote and recognize the region’s great people and their invaluable work. Chosen by an advisory panel from outside Eurasia, assembled for their breadth and depth of Eurasia experiences and knowledge, ”The 100 Outstanding People of Eurasia” will provide the first peer-assessed evaluation of the contribution of these great men and women, both historical and current.

The annual Almanac “Creative Collaboration” is a collection of passages, written by Eurasian Creative Guild members. The almanac shows modern literature, created, as a rule, by young writers, winners of competitions and representing the geography of the former Soviet Union. In their various works are embodied the mentality of different ethnic groups and traditions of national culture. These efforts are broadcast into the Russian cultural and linguistic space.The reader can feel the inspiration sources of the writers, and innovative features of the artistic space.


Project Facts: • “Open Eurasian Literature Festival & Book Forum” and OCA ORZU Arts Festival have had more than 1,300,000 annual site visits and 2,500 contestants from 40 countries. About 40 events are held each year within the framework of festivals held in London and Eurasian region. •

“OCA magazine”: 4 issues annually. The audience of the printed and online version is 50.000 readers all over the world.

Book readings, presentations and exhibitions - more than 35 events every year all over the world.

More than 600 subscribers on social media - Facebook,VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, Linkedin, Instagram and Youtube

Eurasian Creative Guild is open for all like-minded people and invites active collaboration in its activity and events in a role where everybody defines themselves - either as a member of the Guild, or - a participant or sponsor of events in all mentioned areas. If you want to become a member of the Eurasian Creative Guild, please • fill in an online or printed registration form (http://www.eurasiancreativeguild.uk/en/registration-2/) •

add information about yourself and your creative pursuits

send your photo by email to guild@ocamagazine.com

The annual membership fee is GBP 50 GBP 30 for students GBP 300 for organisations





Members of the Guild can enjoy the following bonuses: • advertising of their events on social media (more than 60.000 subscribers on Facebook, Instagram,Youtube) •

free tickets to the “Open Eurasian Literature Festival & Book Forum”, “Open Central Asia International ORZU Arts Festival” and other events, organized by the Guild

free tickets for the first upcoming Orzu Arts Festival, which will be held for the first time in London for the discovery of young artists, innovators and successful companies, representing the Central Asian products to Western countries.

free subscription to the OCA Magazine

25% discount on all Hertfordshire Press books

25% discount on the literary almanac “Creative Collaboration”

Everybody who considers himself a creative person: writers, poets, illustrators, translators, web designers, musicians, journalists, artists, directors, and so on are welcome to join Eurasian Creative Guild and become part of a growing and unique community.

REGISTRATION FORM First name_____________________________________________________________ Last Name_____________________________________________________________ Date of birth____________________________________________________________ Place of birth____________________________________________________________ Place of residence________________________________________________________ Phone number (with area code)______________________________________________ E-mail____________________________________________________________________ Tell us about yourself (500 symbols)___________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________ Field of activity * Writer Poet Musician Actor Photographer Designer Sculptor Illustrator Dancer graphic designer Other:____________________________ Tell us about your art works (500 symbols) _____________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________ Is your work publicly available on the internet? If yes, please provide a link to them or web site__________________________________ I have read and agree with the terms of the Eurasian Creative Guild________________ WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM





On the shores of Lake Alakol looking back towards the Djungar Alatau Mountains

Alatau Tamchiboulac Atkinson, the son of British explorers Thomas and Lucy Atkinson, was born on 4th November 1848 in the tiny settlement of Kapal in the Zhetysu region of what is now Eastern Kazakhstan. 168 years later ten of his British, American and New Zealander descendants returned to Kapal to visit the places after which he had been named.This is the story of that remarkable visit. Return to the Great Steppe In July 2016 ten descendants of the British explorers, Thomas and Lucy Atkinson, travelled to Kazakhstan to visit the place wherein November 1848 Lucy gave birth to a son, whom she called Alatau Tamchiboulac Atkinson. Five descendants from England, three from Hawaii and one each from Florida and New Zealand decided to join the group.


From the moment we arrived at Astana airport, it was clear that this was going to be a special trip. We were greeted with songs, dances and special sweets and bread, organised by Mrs Umutkan Munalbayeva, general director of the National Academic Library.

who told the family how delighted he was that the Atkinson delegation had arrived in Astana. As the meeting got underway, one of the relatives, Paul Dahlquist, gave a traditional Hawaiian greeting which was highly appreciated by the gathering.

Our first day was spent sight-seeing. Several members of the group were also taken to a meeting with Kazakh Prime Minister, Mr Karim Massimov,

Our second day started with a meeting with the mayor of Astana, Mr Asset Assekeshev, who told the delegation that he would be interested in discussing

the possibility of opening a special museum dedicated to the Atkinsons. Two members of the Atkinson family delegation dressed in character as Thomas and Lucy Atkinson for the meeting, wearing costumes they had obtained at the National Theatre in London.

Professor Myrzatay Zholdasbekov said it was important that the book was translated into Kazakh and Russian so that young people could learn about this important period in history.

The meeting with the mayor was followed by the launch of South to the Great Steppe at the National Academic Library in front of an audience of around 150 people. Press interest was overwhelming, with dozens of journalists covering the event.

On Tuesday 26th July, we flew to Almaty, courtesy of Air Astana. Outside the airport we were greeted with vans decked out in special livery and by the KazGeo representatives all wearing special T-shirts marked with the slogan ‘Alatau Tamchiboulac: From Great Britain to the Great Steppe’.

Following a slide-show presentation of the book, numerous Kazakh academics and experts – including Director for the Institute of State History of the Ministry of Education of Kazakhstan, Mr Burkit Ayagan, and renowned writer, Sharbanu Beisenova, as well as Mr. Darkhan Mynbay, Mr Sherubay Kurmanbayuly. Mr Zhambyl Artykbayev - spoke to express support for the book and its importance for providing new information about the early modern history of the Kazakh people. Leading ideologue

Arrival in Almaty

From Shymbulak it was on to the British Council in Almaty where Nick Fielding gave a slide presentation based on his book to a packed room. Most of those attending had responded to a social media campaign informing them about the talk. There followed a long journey by road to Taldykorgan, a large city close to Kapal, the little town where the following day we were due to commemorate the birth of Alatau Tamchiboulac Atkinson in 1848.

Celebrations in Kapal – Thursday 28 th July Before leaving Taldykorgan for Kapal, the descendants met with Mr Amandyk Batalov, the governor of Almaty region who was well informed about the story of the Atkinsons and spoke of his honour in receiving their descendants as guests. He told the family members that Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, had taken a personal interest in the story and asked rhetorically if it could be the case that the Atkinson family members were in fact Kazakh citizens, as their ancestor had been born in the country. He then presented a beautiful dombra – Kazakhstan’s national instrument - to the party, as well as books extolling the landscape of the region, in particular the Djungar Alatau National Park. The meeting with the governor was followed by a press conference at which all the national networks were present. Then it was time to make the 75km journey to Kapal. On the way the party stopped at the statue of Batyr Kapal, the founder of the town, for a photograph. Once again Steve Brown and Pippa Smith were in costume, this time with the added surprise of a ’babe in arms’. Nothing could have prepared the group for the sight which met their eyes as they drove into Kapal, now a mainly agricultural village, tucked beneath the Djungar Alatau Mountains. A large crowd had assembled in front of the covered memorial, which was flanked by a display illustrating the lives of Thomas and Lucy Atkinson. A group of dombra players stood on one side of the memorial, as the master of ceremonies and two assistants, all splendidly dressed in national costume, stood on the other side. Women in traditional costume handed out a special bread and threw sweets into the crowd. Speeches were made and Paul Dahlquist was asked to cut




Singers and dancers tell the story of the birth of Alatau

the ribbon on the imposing monument commemorating the birth of Alatau Tamchiboulac Atkinson. Over two metres high and carved in solid granite, the monument’s inscription in Kazakh, Russian and English says: ““Alatau Tamchiboulac Atkinson, the son of Thomas and Lucy Atkinson, who were the first British explorers to come to Kazakhstan in the 19th century, was born here on 4th November 1848.” From the newly installed memorial, it was only a short walk to the Tamchiboulac Spring, after which Alatau was named. For the next hour or so dozens of people crammed into the space around the spring, where the water falls directly from the rocks in front of you, tasting the water and bottling it to take away. Once they had visited the spring, the descendants were in for a shock. They had no idea what was still in store for them. Close by, the inhabitants of Kapal had prepared a wonderful shildekhana pageant detailing the story of the birth of Alatau. Performed by actors, singers and dancers, it was fully choreographed and even included a splendid example of horsemanship. We were then invited to take part in a special feast, given in celebration of the birth of a child. Dish followed dish, including Kazakh favourites such as beshbarmak, manti, chorba, laghman and, of course, koumis – the slightly alcoholic drink made from fermented horse milk.


A fine feast had been prepared for the descendants, accompanied by singers and musicians. Soon after, we said our goodbyes and left Kapal, and we headed north-east towards Sarcand, travelling along the same road used by Thomas and Lucy Atkinson as they left in the spring of 1849. We passed through Arasan where the residents of Kapal had held a party for the Atkinsons and where Thomas had bathed in the hot springs for which it is famous.And we were able to take in some of the glorious views towards the Djungar Alatau Mountains. Everywhere we looked we could see the mounds of kurgans – ancient burial chambers built more than 2,500 years ago that testify to the long period of occupancy of this remote region. Soon we were crossing the Hasford Pass on an unmetalled road, heading toward Zhansugarov and then on to Sarcand, where we arrived at our hotel late in the evening. We were now in the heart of the Zhetysu (or Semirechye) region, the home of the seven rivers. Thomas and Lucy, along with the baby Alatau, had systematically explored each of these river valleys during the summer of 1849 and we were here to see something of the sights that greeted them - almost unchanged today, despite the passage of time.

Zhetysu – 29th July Sarcand is home to the headquarters of the Djungar Alatau National Park, a remarkable wilderness covering tens of

thousands of hectares and stretching up from the steppe to snow-capped peaks of around 4,500m. Large parts of the lower slopes of the mountains are covered in dense apple forest, home of the famous Sievers apple, which is thought to be the ancestor of all eating apples. We drove out to the Terekte River – painted by Thomas Atkinson - where some of us mounted horses, whilst others took to jeeps to ride deep into the apple forest to visit a lodge. It was a spectacular ride, at first though open ground and then in the dense forest. Soon after we headed north-east to Lake Alakol, the most northern part of our journey, where we arrived late in the evening of Friday 29 th July.

Lake Alakol – 30th July

A fine feast had been prepared for the descendants, accompanied by singers and musicians

As we had arrived on the shores of Lake Alakol, it was clear that the weather was going to be a problem. The clouds had darkened and it was beginning to rain. By the following morning, the bad weather had set in and we decided to adjust our plans. We had originally intended to spend time on the black beaches of the slightly salty lake, but that was now unthinkable. Instead, we went to the shoreline to take in its sheer size - 1,020 sqms. By the time Thomas and Lucy reached the lake in the late summer of 1849 they had traversed much of the Zhetysu region, watching and travelling with the nomads as they took their herds from their winter pastures alongside Lake Balkash high up into the pastures of the Djungar Alatau. From now on they would be facing the flat steppelands as they made their way north to the Altai Mountains and Barnaul, the town where they would spend the following winter.

Celebrating the new monument to the birth of Alatau Tamchiboulac Atkinson

We stayed in Kazakhstan for another two days, but to all intents and purposes this was the end of our journey. The days had been filled with wonderful sights and fascinating meetings that it will doubtless take some time to digest. Thank you Kazakhstan for making this such a memorable and moving experience! text by Nick Fielding (Picture credits: David O’Neill)






in Ossetia The North Caucasus is characterised by quite some religious diversity, since the region is ethnically diverse and has many cultural and political ties with the peoples of the East and the West, and is situated at the crossroads of European and Asian civilisations. Currently, the North Caucasus is dominated by Islam, but since old times the Caucasus has been a region of Orthodox Christianity. 48 OCA MAGAZINE

symbolises the family) and associated funerary rites, the cult of ancestors and of the dead. The funeral cult merged with the family and clan, and is very developed among the Caucasian peoples. In South Ossetia it took excessively complicated forms, however. It is a common belief that even after their death, ancestors remain invisibly present around their descendants and impact their life on earth. If the ancestor is pleased with their descendant, they will grant them wellbeing; therefore the descendants pray to their ancestors and remember to present them the gifts that they loved in life. Ossetians still preserve the tradition to regularly feed the dead, according to which a funeral feast with an abundance of food is arranged, because all that is eaten is done in commemoration of the deceased. A large number of people attend the funeral feast and hearty meals are served. The cult of the Sun and Fire have always been in the foreground of Ossetian religious life. The main elements of the cults are sacrifices to the gods and common meals, which are called kuvds. Kuvd is a prayer which includes a ritual of blood sacrifice.The Ossetians usually slaughter ox or sheep for the sacrifice because the pig is considered an unholy animal. The cult of the community patrons is tied to the local sanctuaries, where the rituals are performed. Typically this is an old building, sometimes a former Christian church, and sometimes just a group of sacred trees, stones or a meadow. In the sanctuary, before the slaughter a cross is drawn on the head of the sacrificial animal. Cooked animal meat is cut into pieces and his head is being placed on a separate plate.Three types of sacrificial cake must be present on the table as well. Each family in course of the year should organise at least

Despite Islamisation and Christianisation of the Caucasus, to paraphrase Florensky one can say that mountaineers’ religion formed due to the interaction of three forces: the monotheistic religions, brought by the rulers from the outside, paganism and the Caucasian character, which in its own way adapted and reworked them. The most interesting, full and peculiar extent of these beliefs are expressed in Ossetia. Syncretism (combination and interchange of beliefs) here has its most outstanding features they remain committed to various kinds of ceremonies and national traditional beliefs which go back to ancient pagan cults: community, family and the clan (in most cases they took the form of worship of the hearth and home which




one kuvd. Regional newspapers print advertisements about family kuvds. They are carried out in specially designated meadows. In addition to the clan, funeral ceremonies and kuvds on major holidays, some regions have their own traditional kuvds. As a rule, all Ossetian rituals begin with a toast-prayer, addressed to the head of the Ossetian pantheon - Huytsau. Huytsau is not a personal name and refers to the concept of God. Ossetians believe and believed before the adoption of Islam and Christianity in one supreme God who dwells somewhere in heaven and rules the world.While Huytsau is inaccessible and abstract, the Christians and Muslims who participate in kuvds believe that they are praying to their Biblical or Koranic God and don’t feel themselves as apostates. Afterwards a toast in honour of other deities (saints) is proclaimed in strict sequence. The most worshiped saint is the patron of men and travelers Uastyrdzhi (in the Ossetian folk tradition it eventually became associated with Saint George under the influence of Christianity). The Ossetians never start without a prayer to him. For women, his name is banned, and they euphemistically call him “the patron of men.” So the Ossetians pray to ancient gods (Huytsata), the saints (dzuarta) and the spirits (daudzhita). One can say that a mixture of various beliefs and concepts in Ossetia formed a peculiar religion, which is remarkably comfortable for all Christians, Muslims and pagans alike. text by Tatiana Lari






The Shadow of History – The Last Emir of Bukhara

In the orange early morning light, women holding parasols walked their children to school down gravel alleyways filled with the ever present hum of air-con units. Broom-wielding figures in high-viz orange jackets cast bulbous shadows as they swept the dust from side to side. As the sun arced towards its zenith a haze developed, the heat so overpowering WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM 53 that even hawkers lost the will to sell.

TRAVEL Weaving our way past scant pedestrians, our bus headed out of town towards the glittering Summer Palace of Bukhara’s last Emir, the outsized Alim Khan. Beyond the imposing majolica tiled gateway of the Russian-built Sitora-I Mohi Khosa – Palace of the Stars and the Magnificent Moon - the banqueting hall contained an elaborate bronze chandelier from Poland weighing half a ton. To gasps of awe, Bukhara’s first electric light had shone from it during the 1910s, thanks to a fifty-watt generator. An avenue of quince trees led to an ostentation of peacocks parading around a voluminous pool where the Emir’s harem used to frolic. Raised on a platform high above them, he would sit upon his gilded throne, bejewelled and decked in golden threads, choosing his lady for the night. Escaping the conflict between reformers and imams, ever more dependent upon the overlords who would inevitably bring about his downfall, Amir Khan spent his last years as ruler cocooned in the Summer Palace, sating his gluttonous appetite from a glass fronted Russian refrigerator. Putting his lot in with the reformers, then switching sides in the face of the mullah’s strength, in his final years the last Emir of Bukhara had been a leaf in the wind. These were the dark days of mass executions, book burnings and an intellectual exodus from the Khanate. When the ripples from the Bolshevik Revolution reached his kingdom, Alim Khan declared holy war upon the Russians and their reformist allies, the Young Bukharans. Russian gunners initially forced back by frenzied, knife-wielding true believers, tit for tat retributions took place before, in their inevitable victory, the Red Army set about pillaging and murdering their vanquished foes. On September 2nd 1920, soldiers raised the Red Banner from the bombed-out lantern of the Kalon Minaret. From the ninth century Pit of the Herbalists to the Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Bukhara wasn’t about its separate sights, though, it was the sum of its parts, the timeless city permeated by an air of antiquity. On cobblestone back alleys, decked in dopys - four-sided black skullcaps - striped robes and knee-length rubber boots, revered white-bearded elders were idling the afternoon away over pots of choy. From terraces where


their mothers were hanging lines of laundry between buildings, the playful cries of children rang out. Climbing a darkened spiral staircase, we found a vantage point from which to watch the sun set over the Kalon Minaret. Built as an inland lighthouse for desert caravans, the Kalon Minaret - ‘great’ in Tajik - was probably the tallest building in Central Asia upon its completion in 1127. The third minaret to have been built on this site, previous incarnations had caught fire and collapsed onto the mosque below, officially because of the ‘evil eye.’ Also known as the ‘Tower of Death,’ over the centuries the minaret has seen countless bodies sewn into entrail catching sacks and tossed from its forty-seven metre high lantern. Particularly popular during Mangit times, this practice survived until the 1920s.


Home of the first recorded use of the now ubiquitous blue tile in Central Asia, the fourteen distinct bands of the minaret were majestic in the pink light, its scale and intricacy remarkable.The sense of history lingering, everyday life went on unabated at its stout base.Traders were beginning to pack down for the night, transferring their goods into storefronts. The heat of the day having finally abated, head-scarfed babushkas sat chit-chatting on the cool stone steps of the Miri-Arab Madrassa. In the square, children bounced an underinflated beach ball off the hallowed walls, doves above them circling the Madrasa’s crescent moon. Seven times rebuilt, each new incarnation erected upon the ruins of its predecessor, at the northern edge of town, the Ark - the former Royal City - had grown ever higher. Of mythic origins, the Ark of Bukhara dates back to at least the fifth century AD. When it was levelled in an aerial bombardment ordered by Bolshevik General Frunze in 1920, the planes that reduced it to rubble were the first most Bukharans had ever seen. What survived the blitz was ordered destroyed by the fleeing Alim Khan. Shortly to be safe in exile with the city’s teeming coffers, the Emir bade that his harem should be blown up lest the Bolsheviks desecrate it. It is unclear whether the women of the harem were still inside at the time.

ISBN 978-1-910886-29-8

The last vestiges left by Alim Khan’s beks (governors) after he fled, Southern Tajikistan is littered with ruined Bukharan garrisons. Escaping to the Tajik village of Dushanbe, Alim Khan sought international support, but found no backers. With the Bolsheviks advancing, his Basmachi (bandit) Army of Islam riven by infighting and his requests for aid having gone unanswered, the last Emir floated across the Pyanj to Afghanistan on a raft made of wood and sheep-gut, never to return to his homeland. text by Shephen M. Bland






AN ACTOR’S DREAM For a very long time theatre played a major role in entertaining people. Theatre would be a clear indicator of the cultural tendencies of the society. Uzbek theatre played an important role in the cultural development of the Uzbek socialist society, and Abrar Khidoyatov was one of the main figures of the development of Uzbek theatre. Born into a family of a craftsman, Abrar grew up in one of the working class «mahallas»(Uzbek term for community) of Tashkent. Abrar’s father was a brick layer by day, and a storyteller by night. Every night he would take his son to a local “choyhona”(Uzbek for tea place) where local people would share news, drink tea, play games, and sing songs. This was where Abrar got his first experience of entertainment. He loved to listen to local singers sing Uzbek folk songs, and by the age of 10 taught himself to play a «Dutare»(Uzbek folk music instrument). Nothing brought more joy to him than singing, and by the age of 14 he was a famous local singer, eventually making it into acting. At 16 years Abrar was gaining experience and fame in his homeland’s theatre that was transitioning from its amateur entertainment status, towards a serious and professional institution. His strong charisma and dedication towards his craft developed him into a considerable actor and it didn’t take long before his talent was noticed. His ability to transform from one character to another would mesmerize audiences. Abrar’s career spanned for over 40 years, during which he brought many characters to life. In 1935 he starred in William Shakespeare’s play, “Hamlet”.




Shakespeare’s characters were defined by their complexities, and playing Hamlet was a serious challenge. A challenge that inspired Abrar to reach for greater heights and showed his depth as an actor.Yet his biggest role was still to come. In 1941 Abrar played the leading character, Othello, from the play “Othello” written by Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s wordplay and Abrar’s talent created magic on stage. It was very dear to him, because he felt a connection to Othello’s character. The role defined his career and made him famous in global theatre community. He would go on to play it over 500 times in the next 17 years, selling out theatres almost every time. As a result, literature and Shakespeare’s works gained more notoriety in Uzbek society. Abrar Khidoyatov achieved legendary status in Uzbek theatre, he left a cultural impact on his generation by being a master of his craft and dedicating his life to his passion.

A dream for any stage actor...

text by Abror Kurbanov. 08/24/2016


“The great platform of diversity in this work is interspersed and inspired by mystical works.Traces can be made to Jung and other masters manifesting its importance and relevance. A writer of towering abilities, Parry’s newly edited book makes unprecedented references to Neo-Expressionism, The Tempest, Jung, Andrei Platonov and others ... all through a combination of beautiful poetry and prose. Perhaps the most prolific poet and writer of the first half of the twenty-first century in Britain, this book will be read for hundreds of years, no doubt” – Daniele Irandoost

ISBN: 978-1-910886-25-0 RRP: £ 9.95 AWAILABLE: WWW.AMAZON.CO.UK






DOGS HAVE ONLY ONE FLAW: THEY TRUST PEOPLE‌ More than one article can be written about the dire plight of stray dogs and cats that remain in Kazakh cities. It is one of the most underrated and under assessed issues current Kazakh society is facing. One can still find a few worthy reports, however rare and scattered they can be. Most of the information comes from social networks, forums and blogposts. Today the internet has virtually become a lifeline, where people share the photos of their lost pets; post about the strays that were found and need urgent help; deliver much needed info about the vet-clinics and the contacts of the shelters. There are few types of shelter for dogs and cats that exist in Kazakhstan, predominantly around its two city giants Almaty and Astana. The first type is usually created and organised by few volunteers, rather than public or state organisations. Funded by the volunteers themselves these shelters most commonly have location issues, where building the actual shelter from the scratch is often required. Few of such initiatives come to an end within short period of time due to various reasons, the primary one being the lack of support both from the government and the general public. Some of the first such shelters include: Belyi Bim, Novy Shans, Kotopes, Ostrov Nadezhdy. The second type can be called a one-man shelter, a concept that most Westerners would struggle with. A one-man shelter is literally a one-man shelter: it is created, funded and run by one single animal lover, usually the elderly, who cannot bear to leave stray dogs and cats on the streets to die. The elderly establish these shelters within their very own homes. Needless to say they remain under the state radar and never receive any official assistance, financially or legally. They usually get help from similar animal-lovers that may assist a little with money, pet food, quilts and towels, old kitchenware, etc.




There are obvious limitations as to how many dogs/cats can such one-man shelter hold. These types of shelter also have a short lifetime. Another type worth mentioning is so called temporary homing (perederzhka) for money. For example in 2012 to host a stray cost 3000-6000KZT per day or 13 British pounds with modern day conversion. There is only one state-funded type that can hardly be called a shelter. State recruited professionals hunt the strays down (otlov) and bring them to secure houses, where they stay up until 3 days during which the owners are supposed to pick them up. If not found, they are to be put down. But even if the owner is actively searching, it is almost impossible to find the pet: 1) the owner may never find out that his pet was taken by state hunters; 2) there is more than one secure house to search from; 3) the animal may not be given the full 3 days to be found; 4) if the dog’s breed is an elite, high-profitable breed (like Malamute, Siberian Husky, Yorkshire terrier) it might long be sold to the black market and disappear without any trace.


Some shelters post the announcements about the strays to the relevant web-sites in hope to find them new homes: the dog/cat is free to be taken, however the future owner should sign a trusteeship agreement that is by no means is legally binding, which leaves the dog/cat totally dependent upon human will. Cases where strays are adopted and then either returned or dumped back to the streets are not uncommon. Dogs and cats once left behind quickly turn towards their natural survival pattern and start uncontrollably reproducing, thus expanding the general numbers of the strays to rescue. Sterilization is expensive and cannot be accessed by many shelters. Those few that can afford it still sterilise only too few animals. Most remain untampered. No one in effect tried to count in percentages the chances for success of these strays. The chances for the pets to find their former owners are pretty slim. Reasons for that are: the owners themselves had abandoned the pets; too much time passed and the owners had moved on and or changed the location; inadequate information available about finding the missing pet.

Some shelters overfill their limited resources and capacities: bringing over 150 dogs to the shelter that can contain max 60. As a result this leads to ever-growing costs, stretching thin both available resources and manpower. A huge issue common for all types of shelter is how to deal with the damaged animals; some of them had road accidents, or have been in fights with other dogs, or were physically abused. Many come with the difficult fighting wounds and scars; many need urgent deworming both internal and external; some animals arrive pregnant and in need of prompt medical care. Most of the drugs and medicine are expensive and sometimes hard to find. Sometimes shelters approach the vet-clinics to treat the dogs using credit. All the care and handling normal pets find at home are in the gravest of deficits, even the basics like grooming, cutting nails, washing and feeding. The tragic side of it is that people prefer adopting stray dogs and cats already sterilised and without any serious health problems to avoid any unnecessary costs.Thus all those shelters, apart from the state-funded, automatically transform into rescue centres as well. Volunteers in their own cars

drive back and forth between vet-clinics and the shelters, in some cases accumulating personal significant debts with the former ones. There is another dark side of the story concerning the firsttype shelters. Stray cats and dogs flow into the shelter in hope of finding new homes or long lost owners or to alleviate the physical sufferings, even if temporarily. Unfortunately, some people have turned the situation into a lucrative business: they acquire relatively healthy pups and young adults for free pretending to be an animal lover and dog caretaker and later sell them back to future naĂŻve customers. The ones they fail to receive profit from end up again as strays or worse. It appears that helping the strays in Kazakhstan is like using a bucket with a hole in its bottom to clear the water from a fast sinking boat. However, animal lovers are persevering and trying to do their best despite all the obstacle and hardships. And they will not give up. By Zhulduz Baizakova




The 3rd Annual Russian Energy forum took place in London (UK) on 22nd and 23rd June, 2016. The Forum is a major industry event in Europe and a unique platform for dialogue between energy companies from Russia and around the world.The forum was put on by Eurasian Dynamics Ltd with support from the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce, the Canada Eurasia Russia Business Association and the Association of European Businesses. The Forum began with a welcoming addresses by Charles Hendry, President of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce and former UK Energy Minister, for the British side, and by Boris Abramov, Trade Representative of the Russian Federation in the UK, for the Russian side. Over 180 senior executives took part in the forum from energy, financial, legal and technology companies, government officials and numerous guests from 30 countries, as well as roughly 30 journalists from more than 15 Russian and foreign media outlets. The Forum demonstrated the commitment and readiness of Russian business to cooperate with global companies in various sectors of the economy at a growing level. Representatives of the business community not only presented their results, strategies, plans, ideas and projects, but also became actively involved in debates on developments in the global and Russian economy. Ministerial delegations from Russia, Kazakhstan, Japan and China took part in the business programme events.







It has become somewhat of a tradition to celebrate Belarusian Written Language Day. This is an annual holiday that is held every year in different cities and is marked on the first Sunday of September. The holiday is intended to demonstrate the unity of Belarusian written word, the history and culture of the Belarusian people and show the development of written language and book publishing in Belarus. Following tradition, the day is celebrated in towns considered to be  cultural, scientific and literature centres of the country.


Annually, Belarusian Written Language Day is attended by officials,  representatives of diplomatic missions accredited in Belarus, writers from Belarus and other countries. This year the Celebration was held on September 4th in Rogachev city and the publisher of the British publishing house, “Hertfordshire Press”, and co-chairman of Eurasian Creative Guild, Mark (Marat) Akhmedjanov was invited to the celebration as guest of honour. A day before the celebration Marat Akhmedjanov participated in the “Consonance: Word of Skaryna in the Modern World” conference, which was held on September 3rd in the National Library of Belarus in Minsk. 

The conference was devoted to memory of Francysk Skaryna – one of the first book printers in Eastern Europe, born in Belarus  and who  published the first  book  called “Psalter” in 1517. The conference was also dedicated to  the upcoming 500th anniversary of Belarusian book printing that will be marked in 2017. The conference became an important step towards the strengthening of international humanitarian co-operation and interstate literary relations. In Rogachev city festive events were held on September 4th making the festive program very bright and varied. More than 100 events were organised in total.  After the official opening ceremony had started, the awarding ceremony of laureates of the National Literary Award was held. During the whole day on the streets of Rogachev city concerts, theatre plays, exhibitions and literary meetings took place.





ORZU ARTS CONTINUE TO PERFORM London based Central Asian theatre company, Orzu Arts, the first of its kind, have released two successful plays in the summer of 2016. Munojat - Mothers Dialog with Earth was selected for the Women and War Festival produced and organized by So and So Club’s Founder and artistic director, Sarah Berger, in July 2016. Munojot was designed and directed by Yuldosh Juraboev. He also played Earth, Tulganay’s husband, her son, and other men at war in a multi-faceted performance. Tulganay was played by Guljahon Baiz, who also arranged the music for this production. She is an actor, musician, singer and makom specialist from Uzbekistan.Tulganay’s daughter-in-law, Aliman, was portrayed on stage by Dilafruz Kodirova, a classically trained dancer from Uzbekistan. This unique show is based on classic and folkloric songs, on dances from all over Central Asia and on the novel Milky Way by Kyrgyz author Chingiz Aitmatov. The second play The Cry of the Queen by Kyrgyz playwright Sultan Raev, was presented to English audiences at the Space Festival in the Isle of dogs. The Cry of the Queen tells the story of the legendary Kurmanjan Datka, the first female ruler in Central Asia in 19th Century and is about a tragic page in the history of Kyrgyzstan. The Cry of the Queen is a play in folklore – ethnographic form; in fact it is a theatrical ritual. Its unconventional dramaturgy also explores customs to reveal the philosophy and culture of the Kyrgyz people, fusing elements in unusual ways to capture and convey the spirit of a whole nation. This is the first time that The Cry of the Queen, and indeed a Kyrgyz play in general, has ever been staged in Europe. In the last few years director Yuldosh Juraboev has brought to life several dramas on London stages from Central Asian countries and already has won the accolades of English audiences. Today London’s theatre industry already talks highly about this young authentic theatre company that is introducing new culture and theatre style to the UK.




The 5 Year Evolution of OEBF Years and centuries pass, people and countries change, some civilizations disappear and others are born. The fast twenty-first century surprises us with technological inventions and scientific discoveries. Despite all these world changes, the timeless art of writing will forever be a great spiritual heritage of the humankind. We are always happy to get acquainted with the classics, but time does not stand still and as the contemporary literature develops it requires a place in history. “Open Eurasian Book Forum & Literature Festival” was launched as an international literary festival, which helps to promote contemporary authors. The festival has been held annually since 2012. In 2015 a non-profit organization Eurasian Creative Guild (London) became a patron of the “Open Eurasian Festival”. The “Open Eurasian Book Forum & Literature Festival” has taken place in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), Almaty (Kazakhstan), London and Cambridge (UK). Famous writers have been in attendance, such as Janusz Leon Wisniewski, Elchin Safarli, Paul Wilson, Hamid Ismailov, Sultan Raev, Mukhtar Shakhanov and Georgy Pryakhin. Public figures have joined too, including former President of Kyrgyzstan Roza Otunbayeva, ambassadors of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, USA Turkey, Tajikistan; professors of Oxford and Cambridge universities; ministers of culture from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan; and even royal persons such as Princess Katherine of Yugoslavia and representatives of House of Lords.

The international Literary Festival “Open Eurasian Book Forum & Literature Festival” consists of three parts: 1. A Literary Contest, which includes 4 categories of work: “Literature”, “Translation”, “Illustration” and “Film”. 2. The festival aims to bring together both the well-known and young talented authors, who belong to different literary schools, and serves to revive interest in a wide range of literature among the general population.


3. Book Forum, which includes workshops, discussion panels and scientific conferences. Modern literature, as well as contemporary art in general, is in a constant state of exploration. So the literary contest “Open Eurasia”, being the key addition of the “Open Eurasian Book Forum & Literature Festival”, year after year seeks to find and publish both new and well-known masters of the pen. The international literary contest “Open Eurasia” (formerly known as the “Open Central Asia and Eurasia”) is an open and interactive competition, available for writers, poets, translators, illustrators and directors. It is based on the principle of openness and interaction of all the arts on the basis of literature, providing an opportunity to establish a dialogue and communication within the literary and cultural space, and enabling authors to express themselves. The main prize of the contest, is a grant for the publication of the winner’s book in London in English. It should be noted that the prize fund this year has almost doubled in comparison with the first year of the contest, reaching US $ 32,000.Today, 7 books have been published as a result of the contest. Furthermore, excerpts of the finalists’ works have been published in the annual anthology titled, “Creative Collaboration” Every year has seen increases not only the prize fund, but in the number of applications and the geography of contestants. In the first year of the contest (2012) 140 applications were submitted from 22 countries, in 2013 - 170 applications from 20 countries, in 2014 - 450 applications from 22 countries, in 2015 - 800 applications from 28 countries, and 2016 - 1300 applications from 40 countries. The rapid development of the “Open Eurasia” contest shows the great interest in modern literature and its importance in the world. And the festival “Open Eurasian Book Forum & Literature Festival” contributes to the union of the whole Eurasian region, helping authors to prove themselves, to show their work around the world, and readers to learn about authors who in future will become as famous as Shakespeare, Pushkin, Akhmatova, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.





800 450 140








Literature category :


2012 – Galina Dolgaya, Tashkent

2015 – Nikolay Anisimov, Ukraine

2013 – Zaur Hasanov, Baku

2014 – Vitaliy Bondar, Belarus

2014 – Davlat Tolibshohi, Dushanbe

2013 – Asol Bilyalova, Kazakhstan

2015 – Zinaida Longortova, Salekhard

2012 – Aigul Khakimzhanova, Kazakhstan

Translation Category:


2015 – Ikhtiyar Khodjaev, Australia

2015 – Kamal Hasanov, Azerbaijan

2014 – Alex Ulko, Usbekistan

2014 – Jasur Turaev and Evfrat Sharipov, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan

2013 – David Mashuri, Kazakhstan 2012 – Zina Karaeva, Kyrgyzstan



Elchin Safarli

Mukhtar Shakhanov

David Parry

Paul Willson

Janusz Leon Wisniewski

Hamid Ismailov


Russian Federation, United States of America, Azerbaijan, Germany, the Netherlands, Serbia, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Austria, Australia, Norway, Italy, Ireland,Cyprus, Kyrgyzstan, Bulgaria, United Kingdom, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Canada, Mozambique, Denmark, Montenegro, Armenia, Estonia, Japan, Moldova, Latvia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates, Turkmenistan, Belarus, France, Ukraine, Spain, Thailand, Lithuania, Poland, Vietnam, Indonesia.



BOOK REVIEW A MAJOR SCHOLARLY ACHIEVEMENT: COLLECTION OF THE COMPLETE WORKS OF MUSTAFA CHOKAY, compiled and edited by Professor Koshim Yesmagambetov (Almaty, 2002-2014) Review by Dr Shirin Akiner, Senior Fellow, Cambridge Central Asia Forum, University of Cambridge

political revolutionary and his publications were banned. In the West, too, he was not an entirely welcome visitor: Britain and France still had powerful overseas empires and the political establishments in both countries were suspicious of anyone who preached national liberation. Thus, although some of Chokay’s writings were circulated in the West, they appeared in different languages – including Kazakh, Russian, Turkish, French and English, as well as a variety of scripts (i.e. Arabic, Cyrillic and Latin); also, for the sake of security, he often used pseudonyms. His huge literary output was dispersed across libraries in Europe and Asia. Consequently, it was difficult to get a full picture of the scope of his activities and the evolution of his political thought. Mustafa Chokay was one of the most remarkable figures of his age. He was born in December 1890 in southern Kazakhstan, in the town of Akmeshit (now Kzyl Orda).The descendant of a long line of Kazakh leaders, he was, from an early age, conscious of his social responsibilities. He was a gifted child and after an excellent education (first with local teachers, then in the Tashkent Gymnasium), he entered St. Petersburg University, Faculty of Law. Chokay graduated in 1917, at a time of political ferment throughout the Tsarist Empire.

ISBN 978-601-290-043-9

In 2002-2014 the complete works of Mustafa Chokay (1890-1941) were published in Almaty, Kazakhstan in 12 volumes (Daik Press). This is a landmark achievement. Mustafa Chokay was one of the most important Central Asian leaders of his day. However, his political views were unacceptable to the Bolsheviks, who took power after the 1917 Revolution. Consequently, most of his adult life was spent in exile. He was a prolific writer, who used his pen to carry on the struggle for the national liberation of his people. In the Soviet Union, the state authorities regarded him as a dangerous


His formal political career began in 1917, when he became a delegate to the all-Union Congress of Muslims in Moscow. A committed democrat, he rejected both socialist and extreme nationalist ideologies. Chokay was a fervent advocate of Turkestan Autonomy and briefly headed the government of the Kokand Autonomy (December 1917-February 1918). This was overthrown after a fierce onslaught by the Bolshevik forces in early 1918. Thereafter, he left his homeland and travelled via Georgia to Turkey, arriving at a time when the Ottoman Empire was in meltdown, on the verge of total collapse. He then moved to France, where he would spend the rest of his life. When the Soviet Union disintegrated, there was an upsurge of interest in Mustafa Chokay, especially in Kazakhstan, his homeland. However, there was very little information as to what he had written and where it was located Af-

ter Chokay’s death, the Bibliothèque de l’Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO) in Paris acquired a substantial collection of his writings – pamphlets, letters, newspaper articles and so on – from his widow. A brief description of this collection was published by Abdulwahhab Oktay in 1953, in the journal Turkistan (vol. 1/6, pp. 22-24). A much fuller list of the contents of the collection was published by Edward J.Lazzerini, Cahiers du monde russe et soviétique, 1980 (vol. 21/2, pp. 235-239). These publications provided a useful preliminary introduction to Chokay’s work. Some other short articles about him were published over the years and, in 1998, a two-volume edition of his selected writings appeared in Almaty (Kainar press). However, it is only now, with the publication of the complete works of Mustafa Chokay, that we can grasp the range and breadth of his work. Professor Koshim Yesmagambetov has performed a monumental task in compiling this 12-volume edition – some 6,700 pages in total – of the Collected Works of Mustafa Chokay. The first volume gives an overview of his life, education and main political activities, while the last volume is devoted to his correspondence with notable intellectuals and political figures in various countries. The material in the other volumes is organised on a chronological basis, covering the years from 1913 (vol. II) to 1941 (XI). The work as a whole provides an invaluable source of primary information for the study of Chokay’s life, revealing his interests (ranging from agriculture to linguistic issues), his contacts and friendships and his reactions to the changing international climate – particularly in Soviet Central Asia, but also in Turkey. He was an active member of the anti-Soviet Prometheus Organization and maintained close ties with revolutionaries and reformists from all parts of the former Tsarist Empire. However, he was also aware of the growing tensions in Europe. His final letters from Berlin, where he died in December 1941 a couple of days after his 51st birthday, show that he was fully aware of the hypocrisy, brutality and extreme anti-Jewish ideology of the Nazi regime. Consequently, he had no hesitation in rejecting their proposals that he should play a leading role in the Turkestan Legion.

The study of Chokay’s life and work is of great importance for the modern history of Central Asia. However, it has a wider significance, too, because throughout the colonial world there were similar figures. The most notable example was the Indian nationalist Subhas Chandra Bose (1897-1945), whose life in some way parallels that of Chokay, though their political philosophies were different. Bose was a fervent supporter of Indian independence and spent his adult life opposing British rule, first as a political activist and journalist, later as a soldier. In Berlin in November 1941, with German financial support he set up the Free India Centre and took part in German-sponsored Free India radio broadcasts; he also helped to create the Indian Legion – similar to the Turkestani Legion. These activities coincided with Chokay’s final days in Berlin, though there is no record that they ever met. Bose soon became disillusioned with the Germans and turned to the Japanese for help to free India. He died in somewhat mysterious circumstances at the end of the war, aged 48. In India, he was a controversial figure – some saw him as a traitor, but others were inspired by his single-minded fight for the liberation of India. Thanks to Professor Koshim Yesmagambetov’s impressive achievement in gathering together this magnificent collection of material on Mustafa Chokay, the foundation has been laid for future scholars to accord Mustafa Chokay his rightful place in the chronicle of Kazakh history. Moreover, his work opens the way for comparative studies in world history during a period of epochal change: the age between the two World Wars, an age which experienced the collapse of empires, the clash of ideologies and the stirrings of national independence movements throughout Asia. Kazakhstan is sometimes portrayed as a remote country, isolated from global trends. In fact, as the life of Mustafa Chokay shows, this was certainly not the case. Kazakh thinkers and activists were concerned about the same issues as their contemporaries, and they fought with courage and determination for what they believed to be right. Professor Yesmagambetov’s work deserves to find a place in major university and municipal libraries in Kazakhstan, but it should also be made available to readers elsewhere – in neighbouring Central Asian states, as well in research institutions in Asia and Europe.




EDIGE, A KARAKALPAK HEROIC EPIC Karl Reichl has granted his readers with another outstanding work on Turkic epics, named ‘Edige: a Karakalpak Oral Epic’. The author is already well-known for his numerous books in the English language, and his outstanding studies on the epics of the Turkic speaking world. This is the first study of the little known Karakalpak epic for the academic sphere, and the author spent ten years rigorously studying the subject prior to publishing the volume. The book is an in-depth examination of a particular mysterious epic that is spread all over the Turkic speaking world (Noghay, Kazakh,Tatar, Bashkir and Karakalpak). The book consists of two halves: the first one is more analytical, grounding the surrounding context of the epic, and the larger second part describes the research through illustrations and text, translation, textual notes (pp 432456), commentaries (pp 456-479), a well extended bibliography (479-490), and a detailed glossary with photographs and drawings (pp 491-498) and CD attached. The contents of the book reads; ‘The Edige history; Edige in the Noghay, Kazakh, Tatar and Bashkir traditions; Edige in the Karakalpak tradition; Transmission; Origins; Poetic structure; From performance to text; The music of Edige’, allowing for a contextual setting before allowing for analysis through various methodological forms, and through the use of varying categories. This is undoubtedly a most detailed and scrupulous analysis of Edige, based on many years of research. The author also displays a new approach focusing on performance practice in Central Asia, which is seen in the fourth chapter being devoted to the singer who performed the epic Edige: Jumabai-jiraw Bazarov. The chapter describes his life, emphasising his highly unique style of the epic’s execution.


ing dynamism and providing effective interaction.

ISBN: 978-9514110139

In general, the oral transmission phenomenon and the influence of training as the cause of the survival of that precious tradition were fundamental issues for this study. Scholars know that various epics are different in various parts of Central Asia for instance. However the common feature of many of these epics is that they are a communicational method for established societies, famous for their dominant culture. The issue of “communication” raised in this monograph is certainly based on a deep understanding of Central Asian culture, where a performer-audience relationship is greatly important during the process of performance, encourag-

This study shows that performance phenomenon is one of the most important issues for the preservation of the Turkic World’s traditional cultural heritage, and Edige is one of the best examples of it. Thanks to careful, decade-long training through the oral traditions, the genre was preserved and survived the tumultuous times of the USSR. It is completely true that if in Karakalpakistan Edige is “considered a traditional hero, whose deeds are celebrated in epic and tale”, the Soviet times in the fifties and sixties attempted to prohibit the epic on the ground that it was a representation of “feudal and glorified Tatars against medieval Russia”. What is fascinating about the book is not only the long term academic study, but that it is also well edited volume and includes a perfectly translated Edige epic (a highly professional language-based skill not many Western scholars possess). The evaluation’s analyses alternate with concise individual observations, signifying deep knowledge of the culture observed. A thoroughly enjoyable read! text by Jumabay Bazarov Razia Sultanova, University of Cambridge

This edition is Mukhtar Shahanov’s authorized reprint of Walter May translation of “The Plaint of the Hunter Above the Abyss” book initially published by Atamura in 1998. This is a book-dialogue between two famous pundits, the renowned Kirghizian novelist Chingiz Aitmatov and the legendary Kazakh poet Mukhtar Shakhanov - defending their fundamental faith in the spiritual resources of each and every human being. As such, they explore the moral significance of endlessly recurrent existential dislocations characterising everyone’s sense of Personalist encounter with the world around them. A discussion taking them through the riddles posed by ancient philosophies, Turkic histories, African priest-magicians, two-fanged poisonous fish, modern zombism, and Genghis Khan’s Golden Hoard: all the way to power politics in the Kremlin, the risks taken by Premier Mikhail Gorbachev as well as the duties, not to mention the obligations, of writers serving in the sphere of international public affairs.





What associations do you have of any country? Italy – pizza, spaghetti, lasagna, Germany – sausages and beer, Lithuania – zeppelin, Ukraine – borsch and galushki. But what about Belarus?

The neighboring countries call Belarusian people Bulbash – potato soul. Without the humble potato, many Belarussian dishes would not appear on the dining table – boiled, fried and mashed potatoes, potato pies with meat, mushrooms and other, hash browns, potato gratin, potatoes stewed with peppers, boiled young potatoes with dill, dumplings, shanezhki (open pies with filling), gulbishniki (baked mashed potatoes), kolduny (potato pancakes with meat), and so on…

The traditions of national cuisine can be seen during the festival of “Motalskiya Prysmaki”, where local residents share their secrets. The staple food of the Belarusians for many centuries was considered to be baked rye bread. The dough is mixed in a special wooden vessel, blanketed with cabbage leaves. The bread is baked and eaten warm before being washed down with copious amounts of healthy kvass (bread beer). Fish is often the meat chosen to accompany this meal.

In more than 85 % of restaurants you can find dishes of Belarussian national cuisine, but if you want to feel the real flavour, then you must go to someone’s home.There you can see the real traditions that still remain – potato and herbs – straight from the garden, milk direct from the cow, bread and pies freshly taken out of the oven…

Visitors at local establishments are often offered one of the national cuisine’s delights – draniki - potato pancakes fried until Golden brown and usually served with sour cream. Another truly unique local dish is machanka.Take a pancake and wrap it around sausages or pieces of boiled chicken breast and dip into a steaming thick white sauce-based broth.




If you decide to feel like a real bulbash, we have prepared a few recipes: Machanka In a pan make the brisket first. Add some fat or oil. Next, add the meat and fry on a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, adding chopped onion. Fry until the onions turn a golden brown colour and then cover it all with flour and quickly stir so that the flour gets evenly distributed across the surface of all the meat. Pour warm water and stir — it turns into the sauce. If the sauce is too thick — dilute with water. Add salt to taste, pepper and a bay leaf. Leave to cook for 2-3 minutes and add some chopped greens before covering for a few minutes. Prepare pancakes and pour the Machanka sauce into deep bowls to allow the pancakes to be dunked. For the pancakes you will need: Eggs 2 PCs, salt, sugar, milk 0.5 l, flour, soda on a knife tip, vegetable oil 2-3 tbsp


Dumplings with meat or dried mushrooms Grate one portion of boiled potatoes and fresh potatoes and squeeze until the complete separation of juice. Drain the potato juice and let it stand until the formation of starch begins. Mix the pressed potatoes with the potato starch and boiled potatoes. Add salt. Mushroom filling: Use fresh or dried mushrooms (boletus, orange-cap boletus, etc.) and pour boiling water before leaving to stand. Then mix the mushrooms together with the onion and roast this in a pan together with a handful of potato gnocchi. Meat filling: Use ground pork mixed with finely chopped onions and add to the dumplings. Let the gnocchi cook until they float to the surface of the water. Serve with milkflour sauce with onions. The sauce is prepared as follows: fry

chopped onion, add flour and saute until golden brown. Next add the milk and the sauce is ready. Raisin Pie Prepare dough as follows using: a glass of milk, yeast, 3 eggs, 100 g butter, 200 g flour. All the ingredients are whipped with a mixer and then add zest of 1 lemon and sugar. The dough is placed for one day in the refrigerator. Half an hour after removing from the refrigerator add flour. Filling: beat 5-6 eggs with 2 cups of sugar, add 200-300 g of raisins, walnuts, dried apricots, 100 g of poppy seeds. For the dough pieces roll into a thin pancake, put the filling in and roll out rolls, then cut into equal parts and place vertically in the oven for 1 hour (bake at 150180 degrees). Remove from oven, cool and serve as a festive dish. text by Maria Batz Photo Margarita Umpirovich

This is a culinary guide to Central Asia, divided by city and decorated with colourful images. This book is a perfect gift for those who want to discover the Central Asian region and be inspired to make new travels and gain new experiences.

ISBN 978-1-910886-09-0

















































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In this remarkable collection of prose poems, author Abu-Sufyan takes readers through a series of fairy tale scenarios, wherein are hidden a number of sour existential truths. Indeed, from the bewilderment felt by anthropomorphised cranes, to the self-sacrifice of mares galloping towards their (potential) salvation, all the way to the bittersweet biographies experienced by a girl and her frustrated mother, this book weaves darkly enchanted frame stories into highly illustrative fables. Structured, as they are, in the style of unfolding dialogues, Sufyan’s haunting literary technique serves to unveil a story within a storyline. Certainly, as adventures take place between named and memorable characters, each exchange is saturated with wit, practical jokes, and life lessons contributing to an overall Central Asian literary mosaic. ISBN: 978-1-910886-23-6 RRP: £ 12.50





Many poems become famous because of their ability to inspire others. Such poems give people the internal strength they need to reach a goal, find right solutions or let go of their resentment. Poems of Natalya Kharlampieva can inspire people to work towards a cause and motivate people to action, reaching hearts and souls.

She writes not only about women, but also about deep feelings to her motherland, Yakutiya. The poems describe her gratitude to the ancient motherland of her people even if it is very far. It makes readers unite in this opinion with author and have the hope, people should not stay down from their history.

Natalya Kharlampieva gives all the best words to women and their role in history. Kharlampieva used her writing skills in the most noble of ways by creating inspirational poems that touched people with an important message: women deserve to feel visible, supported and protected.

Grace to unique style of writing, this thoughtful and wise woman develops a unique connection with readers and make them enjoy her works. ISBN: 978-1910886229


Profile for Hertfordshire press

OCA MAGAZINE #23 Autumn 2016  

It is always frustrating when deadlines punch a hole right in the middle of a developing and important story. But that is exactly what I fin...

OCA MAGAZINE #23 Autumn 2016  

It is always frustrating when deadlines punch a hole right in the middle of a developing and important story. But that is exactly what I fin...


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