Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Traces of April revolution

Those, who follow news on Central Asia know, that according to the parliamentary election results in Kyrgyzstan, the party supporting former president K.Bakiev had surprisingly got the majority of votes. But some disagree with the results, many of them are in Bishkek.

Two old men are relatives of those who died in Bishkek in April 2010, when policemen shoot people. Some of them just passed by and were talking on the phone, that was their last mobile call, their last words... In the background - photos of killed people and the Presidential Palace.

Protesters  in front of the Presidential Palace.

A tombstone in commemoration of those who were killed in April  revolution. 

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Do people want to help or just to get popular?

First of all I want to thank all my friends and visitors of my blog, who answered my questions in the previous post. Here are results: the most of the interviewees think that Uzbekistan should have opened the border for refugees, some think that only for women with children and old people, other believe that all refugees should have an opportunity to find shelter in Uzbekistan. Several consider that Uzbekistan should have sent humanitarian aid only. The answers to the second question show, the majority of respondents think that only the UN troops can intervene in the conflict in Osh, however several people believe that it is still internal issue of Kyrgyzstan and the interim government is responsible for settlement of the conflict. Actually, I am glad that no one considered Russia or the US to be involved in the conflict resolution.

Well, during the last week I was analyzing the situation in Kyrgyzstan and tried to act. In contrast to Uzbek billionaire Alisher Usmanov and some other people, I do not want to write about all my activities. But I want to mention that some of my friends – “ordinary people” did not stay aside and helped the refugees (and again, in contrast to certain people they prefer not to talk about it). For instance, one of them initiated collection of money in her office and then the sum was spent for purchasing things, which were brought to the government of Uzbekistan collecting the humanitarian aid to refugees from Kyrgyzstan. However I must admit that most of my friends do not care about the situation at all.

Frankly speaking, I am fed up with that too. I have intentionally not read any news about the situation for the past several days. Because I got tired with all that twaddle around the conflict. Really… So many people are just wasting their time to chat about it. They don’t do anything; they are just chatting and re-posting the links on the Internet. For instance, there is a group on Facebook called Stop violence in Kyrgyzstan! They spread info about the peaceful demonstrations in New York and London last week. Of course I could not participate coz I’m not there. But I wanted to know how it went in order to write about. So I wrote to the group “admins” and surprisingly did not get any answer. Although I am one of the group members… I really cannot figure out why people spend their time for sending silly messages with explanations who the group is for and who should leave the group, but they do not have time to inform the group members about outcome of the event they initiated. I guess the guys have never heard about tools and tactics for advocacy… I have the feeling they just wanted to say to their friends: "hey, look at me, I'm so cool, I am doing this and that". Oh guys, it's ridiculous =)

Monday, 14 June 2010

STOP violence in Kyrgyzstan!

The situation in Kyrgyzstan seemed to be calm last week. I even wrote about it here on my blog. But things have changed...  My heart is bleeding for thousands of Uzbeks suffering now in southern Kyrgyzstan.
During the past four days I talked to many people about the situation in Osh and heard many different ideas how to stop the massacre. Please take a minute and answer a couple of my questions, which will help us to form the main opinion.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Bishkek: two months after disturbances

I made these pictures on June, 7 - exactly two month after disturbances in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. Some people are still afraid of going there and say that situation is unstable. But I felt safe and comfortable.

However some reminders of those events can still be seen. Even on the Presidential Palace:

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Raid on Freedom Flotilla. Was it a considered provocation?

Yesterday the Ministry of foreign affairs of Uzbekistan published a statement condemning the raid of Israeli army on the Freedom Flotilla.

As the official document states “Uzbekistan considers it necessary to prevent the growth of tension and escalation of violence, which may have the unpredictable consequences”.

It is one of the cases when I totally agree with Uzbek government.

However some of my friends say, it was a big provocation from Turkey and Israeli government gave to the Navy a legitimate order. People on the ships knew that they had no right to go through the official naval blockade, because the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994, states that “Merchant vessels believed on reasonable grounds to be breaching a blockade may be captured. Merchant vessels which, after prior warning, clearly resist capture may be attacked (paragraph 98)”. So from the legal point of view the Israeli government was right.

But we all remember how both world wars started – with the silly provocative actions. So, do we really need now to look for a guilty and aggrieved side? Or it is finally the right time to START THINKING and to make a compromise?

Monday, 24 May 2010

Payment revolution? No, thanks!

Nobody can be surprised by a plastic card in Uzbekistan today. But it is still surprising that plastic cards here is a way of making people’s life more complicated, rather than easier.

Normally people look for places where they can buy something they like, but here in Tashkent it’s quite usual to look for a shop where one can pay by a credit card. Some shops do even have a sign on their doors “We accept plastic cards”.

However, as to purchasing of bigger things such as furniture, TV set, microwave, etc. it is much cheaper to buy them in cash.  We don’t have shopping malls here in Tashkent, but there is a long street where hundreds of small shops selling household appliances and equipment are located. And no one of these shops is ready to accept payment by transfer or credit card yet. Of course it’s possible to find companies working not only with cash. But prices are different if one pays by cash and credit card. For instance, a refrigerator in one of the shops costs 1,4 Million UZS (about 700USD) if paid by “real money” and over 2 Million UZS (approximately 1 000 USD) if one wants to pay by credit card. I wonder if there is anyone using the second method of payment...

And what absolutely funny and at the same time stupid about the entire story with plastic cards is that all of them have standard PINs: either 1 or 2! Only one figure! That’s all. Of course you can ask your bank to change the code, but does it really matter, if a seller does not ask you to enter your pin, but says loudly: “What is your pin-code?”

Thus, now you know what to do if you find a plastic card in Tashkent…

Friday, 21 May 2010

Kyrgyzstan: no powerful leader – protectorate of the “big brother”

I am planning a business trip to Bishkek at the beginning of June.  Actually it was planned for the end of April – beginning of May, but postponed to the end of May and now to June…  Although traveling to Kyrgyzstan, at least to the northern part of the land, is not forbidden any more, foreign missions staying in Kyrgyzstan advise no to go there if it is not a case of emergency.  People say that the situation in Bishkek is quite safe nowadays, but it is not very comfortable to stay there yet. Many are afraid that disorders can be spread from the southern part of the country to Bishkek any time and very fast, as it was in April. 

Foreigners are advised not to go out at night, stay in touch via mobile phones and always carry passports with them, since the police in Bishkek was told to detain everyone without an ID. Pick pocketing and disorderly conduct are wide spread now, so it is better to watch your bag and be careful.

I wonder when people, who arranged all the “revolutionary events” and made the president resign, will be able to establish power and restore the order in Kyrgyzstan? The point is that there is no real power in the country right now and people know it. They do not feel any strong hand leading them, but it is really needed. I doubt if even a half of those who went to the streets in April had an idea what they were fighting for or against. That was just the crowd effect.  And the same is happening now… Someone on the top cannot assume power and people on the streets like the anarchy.

Thus it is quite logically that other countries want to use the situation in their interests. The main candidates for interfering in Kyrgyzstan are Russia and the US. Both have their security forces there, so both are interested. I don’t want to go into political details, just want to say a couple of words on what I saw. Some time ago there was a show on Russian TV, where Russian experts and people representing Kyrgyzstan were discussing whether Russia should help Kyrgyzstan or not.  The majority of Kyrgyz people said that Russia had to support former soviet country in the hard situation. And they meant not only providing financial support to the country, but also creating jobs for Kyrgyz people in Russia and let them earn there! On the other hand, Russia should not interfere in the situation in Kyrgyzstan…

And the most surprising is that, Russia has already started helping Kyrgyz people. Anyone coming from Kyrgyzstan can get Russian citizenship; the process does not take a long time and quite easy from the bureaucratic point of view.  At the same time, people who are originally Russian but live in other Central Asian countries, have limited chances to get a red passport. Yes, of course Russia just helps poor Kyrgyz people…

And who is this weird lady Rosa Otunbaeva? In the words to journalist after her visit to Moscow at the beginning of May she said something like this: “Vladimir Putin assured me in his support. Russia will help us and will not leave us alone in this tough situation”. She was so excited about it... Like a child. I doubt whether this person can have power in any country. Even as small, as Kyrgyzstan.

Western countries blame some Central Asian governments with violating principles of democracy and giving not enough freedom to people. But when authorities are not strong enough, many say there is no real power and they blame the president for being weak... So it is a pretty hard task to find the golden middle.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Support to young families?

Today I took a taxi to go home. Well, not a big deal indeed. We went by a new multistory house not far from the city centre. The taxi driver looked at it and gave a deep sigh. I understood that something ties him with the house and asked whether he wanted to by an apartment there.  To my surprise, I was right.

So the driver told me about his attempts to get a mortgage according to the Governmental Program to support young families and provide them with accommodation.  His family decided to participate  in the program and discovered that apartments on credit are more expensive than those sold on the market (72 Million UZS which is about 35 thousand USD, while the market price is about  25-30 thousand USD ). Secondly, the guy had to pay 500USD (of course unofficially) to be included into the list of those who will get the mortgage. And finally, when the family was close to the final stage of settling up all the formalities, they found out that they have to pay not 5% interest as it was told before, but  much more. In particular, during the next 15 years they must pay back about 1 million UZS every month (an average monthly salary in Uzbekistan is about 400-500 thousand UZS ), which in 15 years would be 150 Million UZS and twice more as the apartment price. Thus the guy decided to give up and just to save money for buying an apartment… maybe in a couple of years. Hopefully…

For sure it is the best kind of support of young families. Since this teaches them to rely on themselves only…

Friday, 14 May 2010

Ban of private notary practice

From tomorrow, May 15, individuals are banned to engage in notary practice in Uzbekistan. The Decree abolishing the system of private notaries was signed by the President I.Karimov in the beginning of May and the alleged reasons were various violations.

On the one hand, many are concerned about their documents certified in the private notary offices, will these papers be valid? Probably the government will oblige everyone to re-certify their papers in the public notary offices, which definitely will be overcrowded... Probably this is the first step on the way back to nationalization of the enterprises and businesses, that were de-nationalized only in late 90th 

On the other, there is the Law “On the notary system in Uzbekistan”, saying that private notary offices are a part of the notary system in the country. So the Law provides individuals with the legal basis and rights to have private notary practice. And according to the legislative hierarchy, Decrees of President are aimed to implement the Laws but not to contradict them. So theoretically, ban of private notary system by the presidential decree is not possible, only the Parliament can do this by issuing a new law.

Yeah, it must be so. But as life shows, theory remains only theory…

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Бангкок – город жары, краснорубашечников и любви за деньги.

Летели бизнес классом, где во всем самолете било нас трое в бизнессе и еще 9 пассажиров в экономе. Ощущение было, что это наш частный самолет.

Вобщем, добрались хорошо. В аэропорту все очень хорошо организовано, быстро и эффективно. Без труда заказали такси, девушка сообщила кому-то по рации и на первом этаже нас встретил мальчик и довел до такси. Мое первое слово, когда мы вышли на улицу было «Сауна!». Да, влажность в бангкоке высокая, температура вчером +30. Добрались до отеля за 30минут (63 км). Сие удовольствие стоило нам 1200 бат (курс евро 1:42).

Итак, приехали в отель Amari Watergate, оформились. Я зашла в туалет и решила, что мне нужно поменять номер, т.к. унитаз полон воды! Хорошо, что сначала с девченками этот вопрос обсудила – оказалось, что это норма! =)))

Так как никакого welcome drink  у них не оказалось, то пошли попытать счастье на улице – авось рядом есть бар или магазин на крайний случай. За первым же поворотом увидели и услышали краснорубашечников. Первая мысль была – идти назад. Но люди, казалось, просто веселились, выглядели вполне мирно. Мы пошли дальше. Рядом оказался магазин, где мы купили воды (странно, что в отеле 5звезд даже за воду надо платить, как известно в тридорога, хотя в нашем случае это во много раз дороже – 20 бат за литр воды в магазине и 160 за пол-литра в номере – обдираловка!!!) Вобщем, сняла эту «пати» на видео на телефон, вроде что-то получилось.
Интернет бесплатный только в лобби, но на компьютере подключиться не удалось. Хорошо, что на телефоне все получилось! Nokia rules! ;-)

На второй день  выход в город получился немного в другом составе... но это даже и к лучшему.  Сначала решили пойти в шопинг центр, но он оказался уже закрытым. Обычно он закрывается в 10, но из-за протестов краснорубашечников шопы закрываются с закатом солнца. Поэтому мы отправились на улицу «Nana». Хотелось пить и я по неосторожности предложила зайти в один из баров, на что получила вежливый отказ в виде объяснения, что в этих барах мужики цепляют девчонок и это их единственная цель. Присмотрелаь – действительно: только мужчины, все европейской наружности, все кому за 40... В следующем кафе рядочком сидят девушки. Но в основном девушки стоят на улице. Нельзя сказать, что они вызывающе одеты или как-то зазывают мужчин – напротив, все вполне приличные, у некоторых на лице прям выражение самой невинности. Я не ценительница азиатской красоты, но некоторые девушки действительно симпатичные. По слухам, ночь с такой тайской проституткой стоит 5500-6000 бат, что составляет примерно 200 долларов. Много это или мало - трудно сказать, но определенно, девушки получают далеко не всю сумму.

Вообще город немного напомнил мне Дели – такой же влажно жаркий, тоже достаточно грязный (но все же чище чем Дели и нищих намного меньше, можно сказать, что почти нет), такой же шумный, что связано с большим количеством мотоциклов и мото-такси, и такой же многочисленный и не замирающий ни на минуту. Кстати, не видела за вечь вечер ни одного старика – специально присматривалась на улицах и в метро. Да что там говорить, даже людей среднего возраста мало, по моим оценкам большинство населения – молодые люди до 30 лет. Видно не вооруженнным глазом, что молодежь стремится в города и что количество азиатов растет.

Откровенно говоря, раньше где-то глубоко в душе я сожалела об этом, но сейчас я понимаю, что это очевидная закономерность – европейцы должны выродиться. И виноваты в этом они сами. Поздние браки и отсутсвие большого количества детей (да хорошо, если хоть один ребенок имеется) – это одна причина. Вторая – это их высокомерность. Я не хочу сказать, что все они высокомерны. Но сталкиваясь с людьми я прихожу к мнению, что европейцы мыслят очень узко в плане бытовых жизненных ситуаций. Они привыкли к комфорту, и поэтому у них другое мышление, они перестают двигаться дальше. И что самое главное – они считают себя выше других, а свою работу в «развивающихся» странах рассматривают как великое благо для нас. Может быть я и не права, но пока я против своей воли прихожу к такому мнению. Опять же не все такие, но многие...

Ну ладно. Сейчас не об этом. Вернусь к Бангкоку. Очень понравился комплекс Гранд Пэлэс. Из-за наличия храмов, на территорию комплекса нельзя заходить в одежде с открытыми руками и ногами. Для «неправильно одетых» действует пункт проката одежды. Все впечатления – на фотках.

Также ездила на воскресный маркет Chatuhak. Огромный базар, где можно найти все – от одежды, до сувениров, аромамасел и искусственных цветов. Кое-что прикупила. Так что с шопингом в одиночку справилась J Надо отметить, что мне повезло – работала именно та ветка скайтрейна, которая ведет от станции, находящейся рядом с моим отелем, до базара. Все остальное закрыто из-за протестов. Многие таксисты боятся даже ехать в центр города. Вот он, недостаток центрального расположения отеля J  

Первое, на что я обратила внимание по приезду домой – огромное количество зелени и свежий воздух. Я люблю тебя, Ташкент!

Monday, 29 March 2010

Navruz 2010

I remember that Navruz always was a big holiday: women cook samulyak, trees start flourishing, happy children running on the streets, festivals in parks. But it wasn’t like that this year.

21st of March was Sunday. It is a day off and many people didn’t notice that the holiday came. Nothing was organised in the parks. Our mahallya was silent, no celebrations, except of one family welcoming their guests because of Navruz.

23rd of March. About 9 am, people are going to their offices and… all central roads are closed. The taxi driver says: “Because Navruz is today”. I asked: “And what was it then on Sunday?” “Nothing”- was his answer. Then he kept talking about big celebration events for Navruz and how happy people were 20-30years ago. I listened to him without asking questions, since I think, he just wanted to express his feelings…  Official celabration of Navrus two days after the holiday was surprizing for people of Tashkent. A good surprise, isn’t it? =) But this is not the only one...

Saturday morning, almost a week after the 21st of March, I heard music from the college located next to my house. The Hymn of Uzbekistan, official congratulations... Students and teachers gathered in the school courtyard for celebration of Navruz. I smiled. The holiday "lasted" a week and was celebrated at least three times this year. Really funny ;-)

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Крик души менеджера по туризму... уже бывшего =)

Да, я могу говорить по телефону с туристом, писать письмо клиенту, отвечать на вопросы партнера в аське, и обсуждать вопросы тура с шефом одновременно.

Да, я могу составить пять суууупер срочных туров на следующий год в течение часа.

Да, я точно знаю, какой именно тур Вам нужен, хотя Вы даже не отличаете Узбекистан от Таджикистана.

Да, я могу за 20минут посчитать и предложить Вам четыре варианта программы, каждая из которых с двумя вариантами по продолжительности и  тремя категориями отелей.

Да, я могу забронировать Вам номер люкс в отеле 5* по цене 20долларов за сутки…

Да, я могу сделать Вам визу в течение двух дней –  выходных…

Надо срочно? Да, тогда я пробьюсь в посольство сквозь негодующую и проклинающую меня толпу народа, а потом узнаю, что консул сегодня  не в духе и не даст визу…

Я не удивляюсь, когда Вы просите тур класса люкс с услугами «все включено», а потом спрашиваете: а почему так дорого?

Я, несомненно, отвечаю за узбекскую авиакомпанию-монополиста и могу рассказать Вам, почему Вам дешевле лететь в Европу, чем в Узбекистан.

Я знаю, почему в путеводителе написано, что памятник 13 века, а гид сказал- 14…

Я все достану… Вы хотите спать со своим мужем и Вам нужна кровать с одним матрасом, а не двумя, хотя такого нет во всей гостинице…

Это я виновата в том, что машина сломалась, а гид опоздал на 5 минут…

Я могу помочь всем пяти членам группы одновременно: свозить к врачу, в оптику, на базар, в представительство авиакомпании и посольство.

Я понимаю, что Ваша жена работает в администрации Президента России, и ресторан Ташкент в Москве в сто раз лучше, чем все рестораны Узбекистана – ведь это я не привезла поваров из Вашего «Ташкента» к нам.

Меня не раздирает смех, когда Вы наивно полагаете, что все женщины в Узбекистане ходят в поранже, но при этом приезжаете в коротеньких шортиках. Я полностью согласна с Вашим желанием модернизировать нашу страну.

Да я могу достать Вам оборудование необходимой фирмы и мебель нужного Вам размера и цвета за пять дней до начала огромной и важной выставки.

Я просто обожаю Вас за то, что Вы ничего не говорите Вашему гиду (или мне) в течение тура, а потом присылаете мне огромное письмо с жалобами на тур.  Ведь мне так приятно получить Ваш отзыв.

Я знаю, что Вас интересует, даже если я не знаю, кто Вы и чем занимаетесь.

Я точно знаю, чего Вы хотите, хотя Вы сами еще не знаете этого.

И я точно знаю, что я немного буду скучать по всему этому безумию…