Friday Photo: Wedding day for 1,400 in the Caucasus

In Azerbaijan's breakaway majority-Armenian province of Nagorno-Karabakh, 700 ethnic-Armenian couples were wed in a mass ceremony on Oct. 16. Anahit Hayrapetyan reports for Eurasianet:

Russian-Armenian businessman Levon Hairapetian, a native of the Karabakh village of Vank, financed the ceremonies. Each couple received a payment of $2,000; newlyweds living in villages received a cow. That financial support will continue with each child born: couples will receive $2,000 for their first child, $3,000 for a second child, and increasing sums up to $100,000 for a seventh child.

The ultimate aim of the event was to stimulate a baby boom in the territory. A 2005 census put Karabakh's predominantly ethnic Armenian population at just over 145,000.

It's certainly a novel nation-building strategy, though I'm not sure a few thousand more babies is really going to turn Nagorno-Karabakh into the next Kosovo. Then again, it is one of the former Soviet Union's more obscure frozen conflicts, so I guess anything that gets a bit of press is at least a small victory.

Check out the rest of Hayrapetyan's photo essay here.

Anahit Hayrapetyan for Eurasianet.


Who wants to be an Afghan millionaire?

Afghans are about to get a path to riches that has nothing to do with poppy fields. A Kabul-based production company has just bought the rights to produce an Afghan version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

A run of 52 episodes is slated to start filming next month. The winnings won't be quite seven figures; the main prize will be 1 million Afghanis, or about $21,000. Given the country's woeful literacy rates, I'm curious to see what types of questions they'll develop, but I have no doubt the show could catch the attention of a large number of Afghans, who have embraced television in droves since the fall of the Taliban.

I just can't wait to see who the Afghan Regis will be.