Central Asia: The Soviet Union Lives


May 18, 2007: The Soviet Union lives on in Central Asia. The former parts of the defunct Soviet Union are still run by Soviet era bureaucrats, with the aid of an effective secret police and state control of major industries. While there is some democratic opposition in Kyrgyzstan, these groups have not been able to gain any traction. The Islamic radicals aren't doing very well either, especially in light of the recent losses (several hundred exiled Islamic radicals) in Pakistan, at the hands of angry local tribes. Media censorship, including blocking news sites on the Internet, is on the increase. The dictators are taking help from wherever they can get it, continuing the old Cold War game of playing the major powers off against each other. In this case, the U.S., Russia, the European Union, China and India are all in play. Indian troops help train Uzbek soldiers, while everyone pitches deal to get oil and gas out of Central Asia via pipelines. The Uzbeks have agreed to send half of their natural gas to China, while Kazakhstan will keep shipping most of its oil out via Russia. Because Central Asia is, literally, in the middle of nowhere for the mass media, what goes on there is largely ignored. On the plus side, there's no messy terrorism or rebellions going on. On the minus side, there's not much personal freedom or economic growth either. So, in a way, the Soviet Union lives on, at the corner of no and where.


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