Jennifer Brick Murtazashvili

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Volunteering in Chernihiv, Ukraine, April 2022. Zohra Bensemra / Reuters

In early March, the Ukrainian city of Melitopol fell to Russian forces. This largely Russian-speaking city was a place where the Kremlin had hoped its forces would be welcomed as liberators. After taking over, Russian troops abducted the city’s mayor, Ivan Fedorov, a Russian speaker. The Ukrainian government circulated a video showing a blindfolded Fedorov being dragged out of his office. This led to mass protests, with hundreds of people demanding the mayor’s release. He was eventually let go, hailed as a hero by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and transformed into a symbol of courage in the face of Russian aggression.…  Seguir leyendo »

Children displaced by fighting between Afghan security forces and the Taliban, including in many districts in northern Afghanistan, gather in a temporary shelter in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on July 27. (M Sadiq/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

After the United States and NATO began their final withdrawal in mid-April, the Taliban made advances in more than 100 districts, mostly in the north. The swift Taliban takeover of large swaths of northern Afghanistan stunned the Afghan public — and Washington. The Taliban now controls at least one-third of the country’s 400 districts, leaving many wondering if the Kabul government will fall.

The rapid collapse of the north is surprising because this region was a stronghold against the Taliban during its previous reign from 1996 to 2001. Yet, shortly after the July departure of most U.S. and NATO forces, much of the region fell to the militant group.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators from various political parties participate in a rally at the central Ala-Too square in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, on Friday. Mass protests against the results of the 2020 Kyrgyz parliamentary election have been held in Kyrgyzstan since protesters seized the parliament buildings and presidential offices Monday. (Igor Kovalenko/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

Last Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan sparked protests after election results showed that only pro-government parties secured seats in government. By day, citizens continue to protest in cities across the country; by night, civilian defense groups mobilized to protect the capital from looting.

Here is what has happened. Election Day saw numerous reports of irregularities, including vote-buying schemes and busloads of people shipped in to vote at strategic locations where they had been fraudulently registered.

Thousands gathered in the capital, Bishkek, to protest irregularities and voice discontent with the results. When government security forces tried to control the crowds with pepper spray and rubber bullets, these demonstrations spiraled out of control.…  Seguir leyendo »