AidEx: Coming Together to Achieve More

Open Central Asia interviews Nicholas Rutherford, founder of AidEx For this quarterly edition OCA met Nicholas Rutherford, the founder and event director of AidEx – the world’s leading platform in aid and development sector. It comprises a conference, exhibition and networking opportunities with high-profile aid and development professionals from around the world.  Today, AidEx is […]

Back in the USSR: The Spirit of Beatlemania in Kazakhstan

The site of a Silk Road oasis laid waste by the Mongols, the modern history of Almaty began with the construction of a Russian piedmont fort in 1854, around which a minor provincial centre grew. Upon hearing that Trotsky had been exiled to Alma-Ata in 1928, one of his enemies quipped that ‘even if he […]

Sculpting “Brand Kazakhstan” for its Next Step on the International Stage

The quest for international recognition drives many emerging markets. Kazakhstan has undoubtedly been better at it than many. The country has spent great effort and money building up an image as a modern state whose leaders can sit at the top table with world leaders. This effort at branding has been driven by the Kazakh […]

One Belt, One Road: One Myth?

China’s gargantuan Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road initiative, ‘One Belt, One Road’ for short, promises much. President Xi Jinping has hailed its proposed super-grid of rail track, oil and gas pipelines, superhighways and shipping facilities as this century’s economic game-changer, a project that will bring about ‘a new type of […]


On 23 May 1851, the English explorer Thomas Witlam Atkinson, along with his wife Lucy and two-year-old son Alatau – along with several Cossacks and Buryat guides – set out from Irkutsk in Eastern Siberia on a journey that would take them to some of the remotest and wildest places in the world. Their first […]


The Eurasian Creative Guild (London) is a public non-profit organization which serves to unite creative talents around the world. Between January and March, the representatives of the ECG visited; Almaty, Astana, Bishkek, Dublin, Edinburgh, Kiev, London, Minsk, Nicosia, Oslo, Paphos, and Paris. During these visits, members in each of these locations discussed the Guild’s projects; […]

Eurasian Creative Guild Internship 

In 2016 Eurasian Creative Guild has conducted two internships. The first internship was held in Bishkek, from February until April, where 8 interns tried their hands at 8 different specializations: office manager, specialist in marketing and books promotion, editor-journalist, event coordinator, publisher’s assistant, SMM and PR specialist, project-manager and book promo. The selection process in […]

The Marzia Zakiryanova Prize

On August 1st 1991, Marzia Zakiryanova’s life had been split in two through a single twist of fate which left this mother of two small children disabled. Narrating her tale of self-conquest, the author speaks about how she managed to hold her family together and win the respect and recognition of people around her. By […]

The Sara Ishanturaeva Prize

Sara Ishanturaeva was a renowned theatre and film actress, People’s Artist of the USSR and icon of dramatic art in Soviet Uzbekistan. Along with holding an extensive resume of outstanding roles in plays such as Ostrovskii’s Thunderstorm and Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Othello, Sara was also the deputy to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th convocations of […]

Celebration Marks Quincentenary of Belarusian and Eastern European Book Printing

To mark the 500th anniversary of Francis Skaryna’s translation of the bible into Belarusian, on the 27th February 2017, the British Library in London hosted an event. Speakers included His Excellency Sergei Aleinik, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus in the UK, Professor Roman Motulsky, Director of the National Library of Belarus, and Dr Kristian […]

Turkey: Eurasia’s Three-Sided Jigsaw Piece

Geographically linked to three major surrounding regions, Europe, the Middle East and the Caucasus, Turkey is the three-sided piece of the Eurasian jigsaw puzzle. Having been at the heart of the Eastern Roman and Ottoman Empires, the country’s history is especially representative of this unique and composite identity.  Yusuf Akçura, a Russian-born Crimean Tatar intellectual […]

The Wizards of the Emerald City

Belarus’ National Academy of Science has learned how to grow emeralds. It might sound like magic, but our chat with Andrei Soldatov, who is head of the Department of Physics and Ultra-Strong Materials, will explain the science behind this remarkable achievement. OCA: In Belarus there are apparently no naturally occurring jewels. Is this the reason […]

Azamat (Aza) Sydykov: Polyphony Rules the World

Kyrgyzstan may be better known for its welcoming people and spectacular nomadic mountain scenery if it is known at all, however there is no shortage of talent emerging from this small Central Asian country. Open Central Asia speaks to a young and upcoming talented musician from the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, to follow the story of […]

The Real Game of Thrones: At the World Nomad Games

On the 2nd of September Solvi Fannar arrived in Kyrgyzstan, in the heart of Central Asia, for the Second World Nomad Games. This year athletes from 62 countries in the world came together in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan to compete in 26 different sports.  Solvi decided to compete himself in the Mas-Wrestling tournament. He was very impressed […]

The Armenian Kitchen

Scientists believe the Armenian kitchen is one of the oldest cuisines in Asia, and the most ancient in Transcaucasia. Many ways of cooking dishes and different utensils were passed onto neighbouring peoples, such as the Georgians and Azerbaijanis. Recipes are passed from generation to generation, often remaining unchanged over the centuries.  The dishes found in […]

Spotlight on The Eurasian Creative Guild (London)

The Eurasian Creative Guild (London) is a public non-profit organisation, a new meeting place for creative talents. As an actual and virtual association, the Guild generates a framework within which creative people from across the board can come together and discuss their work. Indeed, the Guild has already enlisted dozens of significant cultural figures from […]

Poetry before Prose. Interview with the winner of the Arkadiy Bezrukov Prize at the Open Eurasian Book Forum and Literature Festival

OCA: Pavel, you graduated from the geography department of the Novosibirsk State Pedagogical University. Did your studies help in the writing of your story? Pavel Shumov: I was lucky, I chose to study in this field and it has organically become my life. Geography as a profession is impossible without expeditions, hiking, trips etc, where […]

From death row to the Moon. An informal conversation with Barys Kit

Barys Kit is a 106-year-old Belarusian-American scientist, astrophysicist, physicist, mathematician, chemist, rocket scientist and developer of a space fuel based on liquid hydrogen which made moon flights possible for the United States. Mr. Kit’s name was included in a time capsule detailing the greatest scientists in the world of cosmonautics, which was immured in Washington […]

Crimean Tatar Novelist Emerges from the Shadows Cengiz Dağcı

“The War was not our War! And this war of not ours had found us somewhere, somehow. It took us by its severe storm and threw us where we are right now!”  Cengiz Dağcı said and added, ‘Fifty years! Fifty years away from my homeland, it became a wound that never heals…That wound never healed, […]

The science of success ! Interview with top perfumer Vlad Rekunov

Vlad Rekunov is a perfumer and Director of the Association of Manufacturers of Perfumes and Cosmetics. His mentor, Sophia Grojsman – recipient of the “Living Legend Award” from the American Society of Perfumers – has created dozens of best-selling perfumes for the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Lancôme and Calvin Klein. OCA: Tell our readers […]

Settling down to Belarussian life- Post sanctions. Interview with the United Kingdom Ambassador to Belarus

Ms. Gibb is Her Majesty’s Ambassador United Kingdom in Belarus (Since January 2016). OCA: You’ve spent almost a year in Belarus now. What have you seen so far and how do you find the environment you find yourself in? Do any parts remind you of Britain? FG: I’ve been here just over nine months. I arrived in […]

Guildhall sparkles again to Kazakh Classic

On the 19th of November, a Kazakh Classic Concert was held at London’s prestigious Guildhall to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The event was held in association with the embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Great Britain, Kazakh Gala Limited and the Eurasian Group Companies. The concert […]

Yerlan Sydykov: It’s Our Way. And We are to Overcome It.

Yerlan Sydykov, chancellor of the Eurasian National University named after Lev Nikolayevich Gumilyov (Kazakhstan, Astana), may not be a name familiar to those outside Central Asia, but many in the cultural community across the world will likely have come across his work at some point. Last year, his book “Shakarim” was presented at the University […]

David Parry Makes Historic Kyrgyz Visit

David Parry, the Chairman of Eurasian Creative Guild (London) made his first visit to Kyrgyzstan from 13th till 23rd of September, 2016. On September 18th, famous British poet, playwright and member of the Royal society of Arts, presented his book The Grammar of Witchcraft at the American University of Central Asia (AUCA) in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. […]

Festival-Contest “Ethno Art Fest” Dedicated to the 25th Anniversary of the Commonwealth of Independent States

On the Day of National Unity, 4th November 2016, the representative office of Rosstorudnichestvo in London hosted the International ethnographic festival-competition “Ethno Art Fest” organised by the “Ethnographic Art” section and the company «Ethno Art Fest». The event was dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Various events took place in […]

No Art is too small. Interview with minaturist painter Olim Kamalov

Olim Kalimov is one of the few miniaturist painters in Tajikistan. Demonstrating his own specific comprehension of Persian miniature classical art, Kamalov’s works encapsulate his knowledge of tradition, as seen in his use of colour and his fine brushwork. The inimitable beauty of the miniature comes from the refined lines, the brilliance and genteless of […]

Post-Soviet Women in Transition—Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan Compared

There are many common paradoxes and anomalies regarding the position of women in the former Soviet Muslim republics of Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. These arise from the Soviet legacy of gender equality on the one hand, and patriarchal traditions on the other. The resurgence of Islam as an identity marker in the new independent era […]

Welcome to Georgia. National tourism awards

Georgia is a small country situated at the crossroad of Europe and Asia, bordered by the Black Sea to the west and the Caucasus Mountains to the north. A land of beautiful and diverse natural attractions, a rich culture and centuries of turbulent history, it’s no surprise that the country attracts the attention of tourists […]

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 […]

World politics Along the Silk Route: A Quarter Century of Foul Play

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 […]

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 […]

In the Memory of Kazat Akmatov 1941–2015

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 […]


WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM #23 AUTUMN 2016   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 […]

THE BIG INTERVIEW: Shamsh Kassim-Lakha

WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM #23 AUTUMN 2016   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 […]

Building a Nuclear Weapon Free World

WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM #23 AUTUMN 2016   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 one place parliamentarians, representatives of international organizations, civil activists, scholars as well as mayors and media from more than 50 […]

Interview with the Ambassador of Kazakhstan

to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, H.E. Mr. Erzhan Kazykhanov WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM #23 AUTUMN 2016   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 […]


OCA #22 SUMMER 2016 WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM Despite being far from their motherland, Kazakh students in the UK are among the first to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Thus, the alliance of Kazakhs abroad “KazAlliance” organised an annual spring ball at Warwick University, one of the top universities in the UK. […]


OCA #22 SUMMER 2016 WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM Text by Eugenette Morin It is calm, silent at the end of the Tian Shan mountain range in the Sayram-Ugum State National Park of South Kazakhstan. That won’t last as the sun rises early, snowy peaks glisten and birds break out into song. The view is breathtaking, bathed in the […]


OCA #22 SUMMER 2016 WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM The launching ceremony of the Central Asia-South Asia transmission line CASA-1000 project was held on May 12th in the city of Tursunzoda in the Republic of Tajikistan with the participation of the President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, the Chief […]


OCA #22 SUMMER 2016 WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM Over the past few years, the government of Uzbekistan has undertaken comprehensive measures to reduce state presence in the economy in order to attract foreign investors and create favourable conditions for their active participation in corporate governance. The Republic of Uzbekistan is currently of great interest to foreign investors. The […]


OCA #22 SUMMER 2016 WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM OCA: Kamal, please briefly tell us about yourself and your film making. Kamal Hasanov: I was born and raised in Azerbaijan, in Baku but I received my higher education in America. After returning, I began to work at the Central Bank of Azerbaijan and after four years working as a […]


OCA #22 SUMMER 2016 WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM It was a strangely cool July night just beneath the mountains around Karakol, and my insides were grinding with food poisoning. My skin seeped with hot sweat while my arms and legs shivered as though I had been bathed in freezing snow, and my skull thundered. My Kyrgyz compatriots first […]


OCA #22 SUMMER 2016 WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM DRAWING PARALLELS BETWEEN JIHAD AND TERRORISM The role of a human’s life is central in the purest religion of Islam. God created male and female in the finest manner whether to their physical, moral or spiritual qualities (At-Tin 95 / 4-5). Human as the most wonderful creation of the Almighty […]


OCA #22 SUMMER 2016 WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM In the modern world one of largest scale initiatives is abruptly changing the face of the world, forming a new paradigm of economic and geo-strategic development and is revitalizing a zone of the Silk Road by land and sea. The project has been named “One Belt One Way.” The intention […]


OCA #22 SUMMER 2016 WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM INTERVIEW: ROBIN ORD-SMITH From the age of just 14, Robin Ord-Smith has known that he wanted to be a diplomat, representing British interests abroad. His love of languages, culture, history and politics combined to serve him well in his ambitions and he joined the Foreign Office in 1989 after studying […]


OCA #22 SUMMER 2016 WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM Born in 1937, Mintimer Shaymiev was the first person to hold the title of President of Tatarstan, an autonomous republic within Russia, when he was elected in 1991. An ethnic Tatar, he was relected three times serving until 2010. His background is nothing extraordinary, hailing from the village of Anyakovo, […]


OCA #21  SPRING 2016  WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM INTERVIEW WITH ACTOR RASHID SHADAT Uzbek actor, Rashid Shadat talks to OCA’s Aleksandra Vlsasova about his life as an international actor. 2015 saw him involved in many well known films and television programs, including 24 (TV series), Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Now You See […]


OCA #21  SPRING 2016  WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM The beauty of Caucasus is charming. Many historical, cultural and natural attractions there attract people from all over the world. For me the Caucasus has always been associated with towers. They are an integral part of the highland scenery. This is the world of towers. Their simplicity of form, rigorous […]


OCA #21  SPRING 2016  WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM The Silk Road was a “highway”, which ancient China used to reach other realms in order to trade. Nomad and Mongol hordes rode and reached Europe. Central Asian Emperors developed a military and intellectual nest from where science, mathematics, philosophy and medicine “travelled” and enlightened the medieval world. Tribal warlords […]


OCA #21  SPRING 2016  WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM For the fourth year running, the international literary festival and forum “Open Eurasia and Central Asia Book Forum & Literature Festival – 2015”, organised by the publishing house “Hertfordshire Press” together with the Yunus Emre Institute London Turkish Cultural Centre and “ORZU Arts” theatre was held from 6th to 9th […]


OCA #21  SPRING 2016  WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM A personal reflection by David Parry Words are not as they seem. They neither yield to linguistic analysis, nor allow an uninitiated mind to unravel their secrets. A staggering fact haunting Tamburlaine the Great (died 1405), ultimately frustrating Abai (1845-1904), although stimulating my colleague Sultan Raev (born 1958) in his […]


OCA #21  SPRING 2016  WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM Text by Dario Colón What has estranged the Armenian nation from virtually all other nations in the world when it comes to the build-up and maintenance of a national identity? The answer could be: a profound collective conviction of “It’s them or us”. Armenians tend to believe that in the […]


OCA #21  SPRING 2016  WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM He who drives along the motorway from Russia into Belarus or vice versa will see no control posts either for cargo, vehicles or persons at the border. Further southeast, control posts between Russia and Kazakhstan are at an advanced stage of being dismantled. Together with Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, they make […]


OCA #21  SPRING 2016  WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM Text by Rustam Qobil,journalist, BBC Central Asian service It was March, and a whole neighbourhood on the outskirts of Almaty, Kazakhstan’s biggest city and former capital, was once again preparing for the spring festival of New Year. Men were handling outdoor tasks while women were chopping carrots for pilaf, the […]


OCA #21  SPRING 2015  WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM Text by Christopher Schwartz Photo: Umida Ahmedova It is no secret that at present there is growing discomfort with Western influence throughout Central Asia. One can encounter it from elite and everyman alike. From a Western perspective, it is easy and tempting to attribute the emerging difficulties to various cynical […]


OCA #21  SPRING 2015  WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM Text: by Dr Shahid Qureshi For Azerbaijan, after the occupation of its sovereign areas, Armenia has proven to be something of a neighbour from hell, causing harm to the millions of people in the occupied territories and those who are displaced as a result. Armenians are backed by their former […]


OCA #21  SPRING 2015  WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM Text by Kristina Glazunova Over the last few years attitudes to culture, the understanding of its importance and role in modern society, the recognition of culture as one of the most important resources for social and economic development have radically changed. As a result, the implementation of a program of […]


Kyrgyz-born Mikhail Shvydkoy is no ordinary diplomat. Since 2008, he has been the Special Envoy for International Cultural Cooperation to President Dmitry Medvedev, which followed a stint as the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation. Before becoming Minister of Culture, however, Shvydkoy held many prestigious positions, including editor-in-chief of Channel 5 and later Chairman […]

Latest events from The European Azerbaijan Society

The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS) is a UK-registered pan-European foundation dedicated to raising awareness of Azerbaijan and fostering closer economic, political and cultural links between that country and the nations of Europe. In addition to promoting the positive aspects of Azerbaijan, TEAS also highlights the plight of the 875,000 refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) […]

From Scotland, Via The Soviets, To The Stans Interview with Baroness Alison Suttie

Born and brought up in Hawick, in the Scottish Borders, Baroness Alison Suttie is perhaps not the most likely of fluent Russian speakers you might expect to meet. However, having graduated from Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University in 1990 with a degree in French and Russian she then went on to study at Voronezh University in the […]

Think Dubna, Think High Technological Business

In the end of October 2015 OCA magazine were invited to Russian Federation, Science city Dubna, Moscow Region, organized by Ross Sotrudnichestvo, Mayor of Dubna city and Moscow region governor and  been introduced ….for different aspects of live in Dubna city, such as high technology, Special Economic zone and it’s benefits, Joint Institute for Nuclear […]

CATBIG Hosts Central Asian Ambassadors

On 6th July 2015 British Expertise International held a meeting dedicated to the economic, political and commercial situation in the Central Asian countries. The guests of honour at the event were the British Ambassadors to Georgia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Alexandra Hall has been British Ambassador to Georgia since September 2013. Alexandra spoke to CATBIG members […]

Water For Life: Outcomes of the International Water Conference held in Tajikistan

On June 25th the Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan in London conducted a round table discussion devoted to outcomes of the High-Level International Conference on the implementation of the International Decade for Action “Water for Life”, which was held in Dushanbe from June 9th to 11th. The round table was attended by the representatives […]

Astana Hosts 2015 Charity Marathon

On 13th September 2015, the British Kazakh Society organised a charity marathon in Astana. The event was held with the support of the Rotary club of Astana. “BKS Air Astana Marathon 2015” was attended by over 500 athletes, more than 100 of which were foreign athletes from 18 countries. Participating in the event were both […]

Astronauts Return as Heroes from Orbital Watch

On 12th September 2015, the “Soyuz TMA-16M” capsule landed back in Kazakhstan. There were 3 astronauts on board: a new space record-holder Gennady Padalka (Roscosmos), the first astronaut of independent Kazakhstan Aydin Aimbetova and the first Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen. The crew of “Soyuz TMA – 16M” were taken to the Astana International Airport by […]

Bukhara deer of Khangul

Large, dense forests, called galleries, riparian forests, extend along the banks of the big and small rivers in the Central Asia. These woods provide shelter and food for many animals, the largest among them being the Bukhara deer of Khangul. This Tugai deer is endemic to the region, is a subspecies of the red deer […]

Afghan Cultural Festival Invades London

On a crisp, sunny Sunday morning in the middle of a pleasant British summer, Afghan Association Paiwand opened the gates of its first ever independently-run Afghan Cultural Festival to scores of queuing families, anxious to get into Allianz Park before midday to witness the official opening of the Festival. Eight hours of musical performances, family […]

Astana Hosts the Fifth Summit of the Turkic Council

On 11th September 2015 Astana hosted the Fifth Summit of the Turkic Council. This was the second summit held in Kazakhstan and the fifth anniversary of the Summit. The Summit of the Turkic Council is a unique event that brings together countries with a long history, which have common Turkic roots. The main purpose of […]


OCA #21  SPRING 2015  WWW.OCAMAGAZINE.COM Different people are drawn to Central Asia for different reasons. Indeed many come by accident, knowing little of what awaits them or how life changing it could be. Once such person is Gareth Stamp who came to Kazakhstan five years ago for what he describes as his ‘daily adventure’. ‘I […]