Caucasus

The Caucasus resort's chairlift switched to reverse at high speeds as mangled carriers piled up at the terminal.
Thinking about the legacy of the USSR, I never cease to be amazed at the professionalism with which Communist propaganda permeated every walk of life. Ideology worked on all levels, touching everything, manipulating people's deepest emotions, consciousness and sense of identity.
The morning after the UK referendum, on 24 June, I woke up feeling a strong sense of déjà-vu: that I had seen and gone through
In the early hours of Saturday 2 April, a military escalation erupted on the Nagorny Karabakh line of contact, on a scale not seen since 1994. While the breakfast news reported on Palmyra, on who is planning to restore which monuments, the disturbing news broke about this old, yet now new conflict, that overnight saw dozens of people killed.
I love talking to children. They are so unaffected and they can tell you so much more about a society, and in a much more nuanced way, than famous politicians, experts, journalists, and the like. They are even better than taxi drivers who tend to provide such a deconstruction of the social and political life of their country that sometimes I want to say to them - please, take me back to the airport!
Recently I have become very popular among my London circle. During a recent trip to South Ossetia I had been interrogated
Recently, Russian socio-political discourse has been buzzing on a new topic, widely discussed in Russian society and by experts, but less so by the political elite and by international experts. The topic of discussion is rather significant and serious, and could mark the beginning of a new trend in the relationships between Chechnya and Russia, Chechnya and the Kremlin, and Chechnya and the rest of the North Caucasus.
When I get up in the morning, the first thing I do is read the news. I scan as many sources as I can depending on the time I have available. Many years of doing this have convinced me that nothing is written without a reason. It is as the Russian poet Mayakovsky wrote, that even if the stars are lit, it means someone needs it.
The past year has been a difficult year for the whole region. Cold War rhetoric returned to the former Soviet Union and was met with rejection and, at times, with fear. Azerbaijan was not different...
In places like the Vladikavkaz market, informal communities who have no idea what NGOs are may prove themselves much stronger and more dynamic in the defence of their interests than the marginalised NGOs themselves, which Russia attacks in a Cervantian manner reminiscent of tilting at windmills.
The time really is now for the United Kingdom to take a lead in brokering some form of agreement based on United Nations resolutions. Leaving President Putin to play the diplomat and honest broker between both parties simply means that Russia's influence on the region is maintained and surrounding satellite nations remain subservient to its geo-strategic and geo-political wishes.
I have always admired the expressiveness of the Russian language. Popular turns of phrase that have become enshrined in everyday language reveal quite colourfully Russians' attitudes towards themselves and ongoing events. In particular I am struck by the way Russians reflect on failure with easy humour, as captured in the phrase 'they hoped for better, but it turned out as usual'.
While it is clearly important for peacebuilders to pay more attention to the marginalisation and repression of LGBT people, it's not always so obvious how we should do so...
The Sochi Olympic Games are taking place in a region of tightly interwoven conflicts, the roots of which lie as much in contemporary military, political and social upheaval and the post-soviet geo-politics as in historical events and their various interpretations among different Russian and Caucasian populations...
Security forces in Russia are frantically searching for four women thought to be suicide terrorists hiding out in the run up to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Ruzanna Ibragimova--one of the four--is believed to have already penetrated the "iron ring" of Putin's security perimeter drawn in the radius around Sochi--waiting to attack.
Outside the decrepit cafe where we stopped, a peppery tempered driver waited for the passengers to climb back into the silver marshrutka and continue the drive south down the Georgian Military Highway to Tbilisi.
As Professor RL Johnston, a leading British geographer, put it: "The environment knows no borders, but states do." A striking juxtaposition that captures the essence of the challenge facing the Caucasus.