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English-language version of Luistxo Fernandez's blog

Dƶoxar Dudayev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Luistxo Fernandez 2013/04/21 10:34
Today is the 17th anniversary of the assassination of former Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudayev. He was tracked by his mobile phone and targeted by Russian missiles during the first Chechen war.

This name, Dzhokhar, has a certain sonority. We've seen it again these days, sadly, a certain Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is one of the responsibles of the Boston Marathon attack. It was written Dƶoxar in Chechen while Chechnya was de facto independent under President Dudayev. I saw it written that way in Chechen, in Tartu, Estonia, in a sign at the Barclay hotel door, while on vacation in 2000.

Dƶoxar Dudayev was commander of a major strategic bomber unit placed in Estonia, at the end of life of the Soviet Union. His troops were ordered to repress the pro-independence democratic in Estonia, but Dudayev refused. An Estonian friend explained this to me there in Tartu that day, as the hotel had been the former headquarters of Dudayev's command post. Estonians highly regarded Dudayev. It was for me an emotional moment, to see this sign, written in a minority language with not much more speakers than Basque though a more minoritised status (we also share an ergative construction), that briefly acquired a more decent and proper status.

In 1991 Dudayev left the Red Army and Estonia, and went to Chechnya to lead the independence project. They succeeded at first, peacefully and democratically, in the first half of the 1990s, and they created the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. Among other measures, they introduced a Latin alphabet for the Chechen language, replacing the Soviet-era Cyrillic. That's the script at the center of the Tartu plate.

It was also during those years that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was born. Conceivably, admiration for Dudayev might have influenced the choice of name.

In 1996, Russia decided to intervene militarily, to restore the empire and let no other small nation be free. The first Chechen war, led by Boris Yeltsin, was a disaster for the Russian army was defeated and humiliated. However, it was also bloody and terrible for Chechnya, and among the thousands of victims, its president, Dudayev.

Russia retaliated with more blood and military power in the second Chechen war, led by Vladimir Putin on that occasion. They won, but at what cost: insurgency leading to terrorism, murderous repression, Islamic radicalization of both the resistant groups and the corrupt puppet regime and pro-Russian warlord Ramzan Kadirov (link to his Instagram).

In 1991, Estonia and Dudayev separated, and we know how History has go on. Estonia is a prosperous and modern country, and the euro is their currency. Chechnya is a nightmare of repression and Islam.

What if... in 1991, when Estonia and Dƶoxar Dudayev separated, they had been free to continue the business of politics peacefully? Estonia got that chance, and now it is a prosper tech-savvy republic in the eurozone. Chechnya is a nightmare of repression and Islam. Dƶoxar Dudayev might have lead the country in another direction, should not Russian imperialism impose the war. We can hardly imagine Chechnya in the European Union, but they may have had another destiny, much more peaceful and prosper (and constructive for the international community) than the present status. It wouldn't be Estonia, but I suspect that it would be a very different outcome. Dƶoxar Tsarnaev also would have lived another life, one that probably would not have led to plant bombs on the streets of Boston.

Basque trending topics of Twitter

Luistxo Fernandez 2013/04/18 16:15


What is trending in Basque in Twitter? Twitter itself has not the answer. Although in the latest city deployment of Twitter trend locations there is Bilbao there (main Basque city), still it's not a good measure of our community. As a matter of fact, looks like Twitter only treats TT's geographically, not by language. Well, we at our company CodeSyntax built that tool for Basque:, tracking Basque trends, content and users in Twitter.

Umap worked from one year since Nov., 2010, but then it collapsed, because at the time of launch we could detect and track all Basque users of Twitter (1,100 or so at the time), but when we surpassed the 5,000 user mark (the number supported by Twitter's API), the tool was surpassed too.

Well, we rethought Umap, and the new version is based in a ranking of users (with interesting language usage stats, BTW, here you have mine). We've also improved trend detection, although unlike Twitter's TT system, we only track hashtags. We store them in an archive and using Twitter's new improved search options, we link to that moment of the past when a given term was trendy for Basques. So, on april 7th, the top trends in Basque were #tropela and #ParisRoubaix, both related to cycling, and we can link from there towards Twitter.

Umap joerak egutegia

The joy of BBC

Luistxo Fernandez 2013/04/15 16:23

The TV channels that come to my home are not under my control (it's a neighbourgh thing, they distribute some channels by cable, and that's what we get). Last year, I lost Eurosport, and I resented it, but this year, I got BBC One and BBC Two and it feels great. So, the Snooker World Championship that I partially lost when Eurosport faded away from my TV at mid-tournament, will return to my telly with the BBC this year :-)

I enjoy the quality of documentaries, mostly. Watching Penguins was marvelous, I had no idea that in the coastal desert of Peru there leaved sea lions, penguins and vampires all pitched against each other... Another great seriesm Wonders of Life. The smart physicist Brian Cox that guides that show is like a the Richard Attenborough. I think that's the idea of BBC putting him in different shows.

But, of course, Attenborough is well and filming (Africa is his latest series, and we've enjoyed that too).

Not only documentaries, the news hours of BBC are superb. So so far from news reporting as we are accustomed here. Many times it's worth watching the London local news 30 minutes. More informative than Spanish news. I've read today this article about the fight between the BBC and Margaret Thatcher: it makes one wonder about thatcherism. That is so different from Basque or Spanish standards: here, it is a matter of fact that the governing party controls TV to push its own agenda, places their cherished people in command, control the news...


Luistxo works in CodeSyntax, tweets as @Luistxo and tries to manage the automated newssite Niagarank. This Cemetery is part of a distributed multilingual blog (?!). These are the Basque and Spanish versions:

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