Friday, 30 May 2008

Kazakh Boys

All Давай (All Davai) is a Kazakh boy band with some kind of modern R'n'B sound. Here are two cute music videos. They have so many videos on YouTube that it's very difficult to choose... There's a nostalgic one, one about a love affair gone wrong... There's even one with Nazis in it!

The first is in Kazakh language, and they're mostly just hanging around, being cute: Zhanym

The next is a hymn to their beloved city, in Russian: Алма-Ата (Almaty)

Remember, people, keep your city colourful and clean!

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Karachay guys: a bit of Dima Bilan and Alibek Bashkaev

As we saw in the Eurovision, Karachay people can be quite hot. To the left is a photo of Dima Bilan (via Cisoto), with the following caption: "I've tried many different things. I've even worked on construction sites. Of course, there it's not supercomfortable, but the main thing is - the experience of total extreme." Okay. Though I think he looks cuter with black hair and that beard thingie.

But Karachay people can (of course) be even hotter.

Alibek Bashkaev - judo
Originally uploaded by Alaugan

Judo is the perfect sport for short and stout guys. Alibek Bashkaev is such a guy. He's in the weight category 81 kg, was born November 16th 1989 and represents Russia in general and the Karachaevo-Cherkessk republic in particular as a sports master on international level (МСМК is the Russian abbreviation).

Alaugan has some more photos of him in his Flickr set "Karachay".

Here is his page on
And here is a list of Russian Judokas, some of them quite chirayliq. Alibek has a funny haircut in his photo there, though.

Finally, here is a video of Alibek during the 2007 Russian Judo National Championships Final. Kick ass!

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Georgians with Pets #1

I've wanted to blog this photo for months. The Cattle Drive Tusheti event is beautifully documented on Flickr. Tusheti, in the north-east of Georgia, is the homeland of the Tush people who have their own unique traditions, for example the great cattle drive between pastures twice a year. Of course, they also cherish their own breed of Caucasian Ovcharka, the mighty sheepdog. Don't miss this Tusheti Flickr set by German artist grijsz living in Tblisi, with lots of puppies, horses and fun. He also has a nice blog with lots of photos and information about Georgia, travelling and art.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Eurovision: Chirayliq Victory!

Okay, he's maybe not my type, and maybe he's a bit too sugar-sweet, but... He's still the winner. He's Dima Bilan! Hooray for Russia's first Eurovision Song Contest Victory!

Here's the video from the semi-finals:

Dima is accompanied by a very expensive violin and a very expensive ice skater. As a Finnish friend of mine put it: "Evgeni Plushenko. Olympic gold, olympic silver, three world championships, five European championships and one Eurovision victory..."

Dima (Дима Билан) was born Viktor Belan, 24 December 1981 in Karachay-Cherkessia. He is of Karachay descent. He has also lived in Tatarstan and Kabardino-Balkaria.

The Karachay people are neighbours and rivals of the more famous Cherkess. They are considered a Turkic people with a close relationship to the Balkars. They were victims of Stalin's large-scale relocations in the 1940's. There's a Karachay diaspora in large parts of the world since persecutions during the Russian Empire, as well.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Chirayliq Eurovision: Mor ve Ötesi in-depth

Mor ve Ötesi is one of the still quite few bands I've seen live. They came to Berlin last year, and it was one of the most fun concerts I've been to. They make nice music and jump around a lot, as do the fans. Jumping up and down is the thing to do at a Mor ve Ötesi concert. I was very close to the stage, and there was one moment when Harun caught my eye (kyaaa~) ... It was so cute how they became visibly embarrassed when a girl climbed up on a boy's shoulders right in front of the not so high stage and was waving and shouting and sending kisses to them. Harun has a girlfriend in Berlin, and he had learned some German expressions for their German tour (although the audience was mostly Turkish-speaking, so maybe it wasn't really necessary).

Anyways, the guys in Mor ve Ötesi are a bit older and maybe not so dashingly chirayliq (well, except guitarist Kerem Özyeğen to the left), but there is more to them than meets the eye ...

When I came to the venue I was shocked by how almost everyone standing in line was female, besides some boyfriends who had tagged along. I know plenty of guys who like the band, too, and they hadn't come across to me as a band that caters exclusively to the female audience. But when Mor ve Ötesi started playing their songs, I gradually came upon a possible explanation ...

When music is played very loudly, it - mainly the bass - resonates in the human body. High notes resonate high up in the body, for example in the head, and low notes in your legs and feet. I had been wondering when I'd finally experience a band that would actually put the resonance of their bass lines in the, hrm, genital area ...
However, at the concert of Mor ve Ötesi, I finally did.

As we know, Mor ve Ötesi - not completely unexpectedly - continued to the finals. In the previous entry Ainur posted a clip of the first Eurovision rehearsal with them performing their song Deli. As Harun points out in the beginning, they are only putting in a fraction of their rock band energy during the rehearsals compared to the actual live performance, so that's why they're not jumping around that much in this clip ...

The audio is not so good, but you can check out the Mor ve Ötesi MySpace page to hear their songs in higher quality.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Eurovision - Mor ve Ötesi goes to the finals!

Aaaand they're in! Mor ve Ötesi is a very nice and handsome Turkish rock band with attitude. What are they doing in the silly old song contest anyway? Their exclusive Eurovision website,, is documenting the whole escapade.

Here's the first rehearsal:

Check out this site for more "video klipleri".

Admin says:

I'm sorry for any inconvenience it might have caused that I disabled "anonymous" comments here for a few days. It turns out that it apparently also made it so that the "open ID" users without WordPress, LJ etc. identities also were not accepted, and I think that's the majority of our commenting visitors.

Sorry! m (_ _) m

The reason why I disabled it was that I got tired of some very stupid anonymous comments on another of my blogs (, and went berserk and banned anonymous comments on all the blogs I admin. But that hasn't really been much of a problem here.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Sultan Galiyev

How could we miss this guy? I once photographed an entire Tatarstan ASSR history book in search of Chirayliq candidates, even before this blog was created... and he wasn't there.
It's all Stalin's fault, of course. In this interesting speech from 1923 (source in German), Stalin accuses officials of the "national republics and areas" (mostly Turkestan) of both rightist and leftist leanings, the former being too nationalist, the latter too internationalist - implying that only certain great leaders are able to find the golden middle road, and everybody else better shut up.
Tatar Bolshevik Mirsäyet Xäydärğäli ulı Soltanğäliev (1892-1940?), aka Mirza Sultan-Galiev, was purged from the party in 1923 and finally executed in 1939 or 1940 for "nationalist tendencies". Today, Soltanğäliev's memory lives both in Tatarstan and Turkey, and some rare European socialists consider him a "forgotten precursor". Why this surge of attention? Well, I suppose it is his particular mix of socialism, Islam and national solidarity, sometimes called sultangalievism, which grew in the fertile soil of the jadidist movement of the 1800's in Bashkiria and Tataria (his parents were teachers). Already jadidism had sought to combine Islam, modernization and nationalization ("national revival") among the Muslim minorities of the Russian empire. Throughout most of Russia's history, religion, not ethnicity, was the defining category for most of the population. By promoting literacy, modern communications, and education, the jadidists wanted to reform Islam from the roots, while staying faithful to what they defined as core values of the Tatars and other Turkic peoples in Central Asia: freedom, social equality, diversity. Oppressed by the Tsarist regime, they turned to the Bolsheviks for support.

Soltanğäliev joined the Bolshevik Party in November 1917. At that time, he became a protégé of Stalin, as president of the Central Muslim Commissariat. He founded a Muslim Communist Party, and raised a military force of Tatars and other Muslims, which played a key role in the battles with Kolchak at the Volga. Interestingly, in the face of Russian opposition, he made public plans to create a Tatar-Bashkir Republic along the Middle Volga and the South Urals, with five to six million inhabitants. His view of Bolshevism was a worldwide anti-colonial struggle. (Source: Maxime Rodinson)

For Soltanğäliev, there was no contradiction in working for the advancement of Tatar and Bashkir culture while translating the works of Tolstoy into these languages and collaborating with people of other ethnicities for world revolution. It seems ironic that Dzhugashvili the Georgian, in the name of Great Russian supremacy, would crush Soltanğäliev the Tatar.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Eurovision goes Chirayliq

Anyone who has been following, however half-heartedly, the Eurovision Song Contest through the last three or two decades, has noticed certain changes. Self-declared West European media pundits are feeling conflicted about it. The French, the Swedes, the Brits bemoan the changes. Some people are being sensible about it, but most apostles of Western civilization are perturbed by the new face of the contest.
But we needn't worry, because the face is Chirayliq.

Today, the results of the first semifinals confirmed that Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia (and Israel, Chirayliq territory by special permission - see below) will represent their countries in the final. (We might as well include Finland for Teräsbetoni's inspired Genghis Khan tribute.) On Thursday, we'll find out how Turkey's loveable alternative rockers Mor ve Ötesi fare in hot competition with Georgia (I haven't checked out all the participants, so there might be some ladies in the mix - but maybe with fine male dancers?). Personally, I hope the Eurovision Drang nach Osten won't stop until we reach the Bering Strait.

Let's have a little Chirayliq song contest here. We'll post videos from the official Eurovision YouTube channel, and you'll give your points to the sweetest guys. For starters, here's my fresh discovery, Boaz Mauda (a.k.a "the Yemenite Nightingale"), rehearsing his song The Fire in Your Eyes and complimenting his hosts. Check out the boys' adorable dance at 02:22!

Bonus video: Azerbaijan's Elnur & Samir demonstrate traditional Mugham singing style. I did not know that musical traditions were protected by UNESCO, too. Mugham is one of them - it's considered a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Vyacheslav Tikhonov

Vyacheslav Tikhonov (Вячеслав Тихонов, *1928) in his breakthrough film, It Happened in Penkovo (Дело было в Пенькове, 1958), singing a beautiful song, as the village intrigue tightens around him. I love the expressions!

Tikhonov is Russian, but I found this interesting quote about his early career at the Russia Info-Centre.
Lots of film directors wanted to film Vyacheslav Tikhonov, yet Mosfilm Studio turned to be inaccessible for the actor for many years (almost all his creative life is associated with M. Gorky Film Studio). It was all due to Ivan Pyryev, who was the director of Mosfilm and looked all the screen tests through: he believed that Tikhonov did not look like a Russian. To him the actor was either an Azerbaijani or an Armenian but no way a Russian.
In short: Pyryev thought the man was too good-looking to be a "real" Russian! How insulting to the national image... Tikhonov was clearly a victim of anti-Chirayliqism.
Fortunately, more sensible people understood that Tikhonov's good looks were a boon to Soviet cinema, and he embarked on a long and successful career, creating such iconic characters as Stirlitz, the Soviet super spy. (For more Tikhonov on YouTube, check out this clip with him in uniform, at the piano, singing, whistling (!) and making ladies' eyes twinkle.)

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Hope for Turkmenistan?

The President of Turkmenistan, Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, is currently dismantling the personality cult of former president Saparmurat Niyazov. Although Western analysts remain sceptical of the new regime, I hope the citizens of Turkmenistan will be able to breath a little bit more freely now. (The photo is from the presidential inauguration ceremony, February 14th 2007.)