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Unravelling Russia and Central Asia

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Published Date : 2019-05-02
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The New Silk Road in Central Asia


By: Vladimir Pachkov, SJ

Seven years ago, when living in Southern Kyrgyzstan, I met a German tourist who had tried to cycle south through the mountains from the capital city, Bishkek. He had taken the Eastern road leading from Issyk Kul to Jalalabad. The road was marked on the map, but it was actually a secondary track paved in stone, which had cost him several tires and a great deal of anger. That was 2011. Today, that track has been replaced by an eight-lane highway,... Read More

Christianity in Central Asia: The Jesuit mission in Kyrgyzstan


By: Vladimir Pachkov, SJ

Christianity on the Silk Road Although Christianity was born in Asia – and until the Arab conquests of the seventh century the center of Christianity remained in Asia – today it is more commonly considered a continent that is characterized by Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. When it comes to religions few people know that, even after Muslims had conquered its places of origin, Christianity spread throughout the territory between Mesopotamia and the Pacific, spanning the whole Eurasian continent. Though there is... Read More

Is Stalinism Alive in Russia?


By: Vladimir Pachkov, SJ

Is the Russian secret service the proud heir of the Cheka? On February 25, 1956, in a closed door meeting of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the USSR, after much hesitation and argument with the head of the party, Nikita Khrushchev gave his famous speech “on Stalin’s personality cult and its consequences,” thereby initiating the process of de-stalinization in the Soviet Union. This represents one of the greatest political successes of the 20th century if one thinks of... Read More

Islam in Russia


By: Vladimir Pachkov, SJ

Four hundred kilometers east of Moscow lies one of the most beautiful and wealthiest cities of Russia: Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, the largest Muslim enclave in the Russian Federation. Currently, a high-speed train line between Moscow and Kazan is under construction, the second planned after the one connecting Moscow and St. Petersburg, demonstrating the symbolic importance of Kazan and Tatarstan for the region. These two high-speed rail lines offer a modern embodiment of the old symbol... Read More

Russia between Europe and Asia: Looking East in search of itself?


By: Vladimir Pachkov, SJ

The first sovereign of independent Russia, Ivan III, brought from what was once Byzantium not only his  wife, but also, again freed from the Turks, the double-headed eagle, emblem and expression of an idea. Although various Eastern European countries consider themselves in some way heirs to this imperial ideal, nowhere has the tension between East and West been as strong as in Russia, except perhaps in Turkey itself. After Peter the Great, the double-headed eagle looked more and more to the... Read More