In the North Caucasus preparations for the new year celebrations are well under way. Despite the fact that most republics in the region have largely Muslim populations,and therefore do not celebrate Christmas, the tradiution of new year celebrations left over from Soviet times remains strong.
In recent years celebrations were particularly poignant in Chechnya, where under the iron fist of Ramazan Kadyrov, firmly backed by the Kremlin, the islamist insurgency that gripped the region after the end of Soviet rule, has been largely, but not completely contained. New year celebrations in the capital Grozny are widely reported by the Russian media to project an image of normality.
photo: The new year tree and the main Mosque in Grozny, all lit up ahead of new year festivities. (picture courtesy of Tass news agency, Moscow)
Most of the festivities were this year held outside Yerevan, in the city of Gyumri. The main event saw 13 citizens being awarded the title "Hero of our times".
Ahead of a scheduled meeting between the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan later this month, Ahmad Alili looks at the current state of the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, and argues that public opinion now requires answers and clarifications