Astrit Dakli


Putin’s Patriarch


The Orthodox Church is filling a political void left by the collapse of the party system in Russia. Kirill I, the Patriarch of Moscow, is forging stronger links with the Kremlin, attacking what he ominously describes as “anti-Russian” behaviour, including homosexual propaganda, the all-female pop group “Pussy Riot” and even more bizarrely the works of Lenin.

Religious Strife in Russia


After four generations of being an officially secular state, Russia now has something akin to a war between moderate and hard line Islam being fought on its doorstep while the Orthodox Church is becoming heavily involved in Kremlin politics.

Military Build-up in the Caspian Sea


A new version of the “Great Game” is being played out around the Caspian Sea with Azerbaijan and Armenia as proxies for US, European, Russian and Iranian policy, fuelling a military build-up that goes well beyond what one would expect for a resumption of hostilities over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Blood on the Kazakh Oilfields


December’s massacre of striking oilfield workers in the city of Zhanaozen caused few ripples in the international community, unwilling to challenge a strategic partner with such abundant oil resources. The response of the new Kazakh government has been to crack down on the opposition.

Azerbaijan’s Ill-Spent Gains


This small country in the Caucasus is starting to see massive oil and gas revenues, but poverty is still endemic and the war with Armenia is far from over. Azerbaijan is paying the political price of being a strategically-placed country with abundant energy resources.

Kyrgyzstan at the Crossroads


Elections are about to be held in Kyrgyzstan. Russia’s Vladimir Putin is predicting that “too much democracy” will merely result in instability while China and the USA look on sceptically. President Roza Otunbayeva is challenging traditional “clan logic” and pushing for a functioning democracy.

Ukrainian Enigma


Ten years after the murder of the journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, the Justice Department of Ukraine has charged former President Leonid Kuchma with involvement in the crime. Astrit Dakli asks who wants this high profile trial and why bring back to life an investigation that itself has been a litany of mysteries?

Kyrgyzstan Revolts


Bishkek is in the hands of the opposition, the ousted President Bakiyev is in hiding but there is still uncertainty throughout the country. The signs were there though. The Tulip Revolution had disintegrated all too quickly into dictatorship, economic forces and utility prices did the rest.