Kazakh leader’s grandson complains he is passportless after stint in ‘private Russian jail’

Screenshot of Aisultan Nazarbayev's Facebook account. The man kissing a young Aisultan in the cover photo is Kazakhstan's de facto leader-for-life, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The grandson of Kazakhstan's all-powerful leader Nursultan Nazarbayev has amazed social media users in the Central Asian country by claiming he is a “person without a passport” after spending time in a “private Russian jail.”

Kazakh users reacted with incredulity to the bizarre post on Aisultan Nazarbayev's Facebook account late on January 23 that the 28-year-old appeared to use to criticise state bureaucracy and police.

“Thanks to them I am currently a person without a passport or registration,” he wrote, referring to migration authorities.

In its first few hours, the post, which began with a philosophical question, was shared more than a hundred times.

Что такое Родина?�Для кого-то это просто место, где ты прописан по паспорту. Для кого-то это место, где тебе хорошо. А для кого-то это страна, с которой ты связан, как дерево корнями связано с землей, и не важно, стоит ли прописка в твоем паспорте и хорошо ли тебе там.

What is a Motherland? For some, this is just a place where you are registered by passport. For others, this is a place where you feel good. And for someone else, this is a country with which you are connected, like a tree is connected through its roots to the ground, and it doesn’t matter whether there is a registration stamp in your passport or whether you are feeling well there.

While there was no immediate proof Aisultan Nazarbayev wrote the post himself, it would be consistent with strange public appeals of his in the past.

Moreover, last month he had thanked Russian authorities for making him “free again, in the full sense of the word” in another cryptic post that he refused to clarify.

Nursultan Nazarbayev's authoritarian rule over Kazakhstan extends back to the period before the country gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Aisultan Nazarbayev is the son of his eldest daughter, Dariga, 55.

In 2017, while he was serving as the vice-president of the country's national football federation, Aisultan Nazarbayev admitted his authoritarian grandfather had helped him conquer an addiction to narcotics.

Before landing that job, Aisultan had been vociferously critical of Kazakhstan's football authorities and in particular the federation's head of the time, a loyalist of the president who also served as the country's chief of staff.

Aisultan left the post less than a year later and promptly disappeared from public view.

He found his voice again in the January 23 Facebook missive, fuming at the ex-Soviet republic's state organs dealing with migration, which he described as “simply hell.”

But users struggled to picture Aisultan struggling “like an ordinary citizen” in one of the country's hated “Centres of Service to the Population.”

These centres that deal with registration issues for citizens and foreigners are noted — to put it mildly — for an indifferent approach to customer service.

Почему то мне не верится, что ” автор” сам ходил в ЦОН.

Why is it that I don't believe this “author” visited a (registration centre) himself?

Полетят головы клерков

Now these paper-pushers will lose their heads.

Silent for a year

Most surprising for many users responding to the post was Aisultan Nazarbayev's claim he had spent time in “a private Russian jail.”

“Having freed myself from confinement in a private Russian jail, I returned (to Kazakhstan) without my documents — everything had been stolen and destroyed,” Nazarbayev wrote, without mentioning the reason for his apparent incarceration.

This is something! Aisultan Nazarbayev, president's grandson on his Facebook page 12 mins ago said that he has no citizenship now and that he was put in Russian prison by the “close people” whom he trusted. https://t.co/C2OpZL5GZp

— Aigerim Toleukhan (@aygeryma) January 23, 2019

Yet public speculation over Aisultan's whereabouts had been rife for some time due to his silence on social media for over a year after leaving his job in football.

While Aisultan admitted that he could have contacted his 78-year-old strongman grandfather to help solve his apparent undocumented status, he said he was “ashamed to bother the country's leader with an issue that should be resolved automatically.”

Nursultan Nazarbayev's current presidential term ends in 2020. He has never indicated a successor but said in a 2016 interview that he does not plan to hand power over the country of 18 million people to his children.

Written by Chris Rickleton · comments (0)
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by Heather M. Machkovech, Jesse D. Bloom, Arvind R. Subramaniam

Translation can initiate at alternate, non-canonical start codons in response to stressful stimuli in mammalian cells. Recent studies suggest that viral infection and anti-viral responses alter sites of translation initiation, and in some cases, lead to production of novel immune epitopes. Here we systematically investigate the extent and impact of alternate translation initiation in cells infected with influenza virus. We perform evolutionary analyses that suggest selection against non-canonical initiation at CUG codons in influenza virus lineages that have adapted to mammalian hosts. We then use ribosome profiling with the initiation inhibitor lactimidomycin to experimentally delineate translation initiation sites in a human lung epithelial cell line infected with influenza virus. We identify several candidate sites of alternate initiation in influenza mRNAs, all of which occur at AUG codons that are downstream of canonical initiation codons. One of these candidate downstream start sites truncates 14 amino acids from the N-terminus of the N1 neuraminidase protein, resulting in loss of its cytoplasmic tail and a portion of the transmembrane domain. This truncated neuraminidase protein is expressed on the cell surface during influenza virus infection, is enzymatically active, and is conserved in most N1 viral lineages. We do not detect globally higher levels of alternate translation initiation on host transcripts upon influenza infection or during the anti-viral response, but the subset of host transcripts induced by the anti-viral response are enriched for alternate initiation sites. Together, our results systematically map the landscape of translation initiation during influenza virus infection, and shed light on the evolutionary forces shaping this landscape.

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Whole-genome sequence of the bovine blood fluke <i>Schistosoma bovis</i> supports interspecific hybridization with <i>S</i>. <i>haematobium</i>

by Harald Oey, Martha Zakrzewski, Kerstin Gravermann, Neil D. Young, Pasi K. Korhonen, Geoffrey N. Gobert, Sujeevi Nawaratna, Shihab Hasan, David M. Martínez, Hong You, Martin Lavin, Malcolm K. Jones, Mark A. Ragan, Jens Stoye, Ana Oleaga, Aidan M. Emery, Bonnie Webster, David Rollinson, Robin B. Gasser, Donald P. McManus, Lutz Krause

Intestinal infection by the parasitic blood fluke Schistosoma bovis is a common veterinary problem in Africa and the Middle East and occasionally in the Mediterranean Region. The species also has the ability to form interspecific hybrids with the human parasite S. haematobium with natural hybridisation observed in West Africa, presenting possible zoonotic transmission. Additionally, this exchange of alleles between species may dramatically influence disease dynamics and parasite evolution. We have generated a 374 Mb assembly of the S. bovis genome using Illumina and PacBio-based technologies. Despite infecting different hosts and organs, the genome sequences of S. bovis and S. haematobium appeared strikingly similar with 97% sequence identity. The two species share 98% of protein-coding genes, with an average sequence identity of 97.3% at the amino acid level. Genome comparison identified large continuous parts of the genome (up to several 100 kb) showing almost 100% sequence identity between S. bovis and S. haematobium. It is unlikely that this is a result of genome conservation and provides further evidence of natural interspecific hybridization between S. bovis and S. haematobium. Our results suggest that foreign DNA obtained by interspecific hybridization was maintained in the population through multiple meiosis cycles and that hybrids were sexually reproductive, producing viable offspring. The S. bovis genome assembly forms a highly valuable resource for studying schistosome evolution and exploring genetic regions that are associated with species-specific phenotypic traits.

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Notice of Republication: Simulating Cortical Development as a Self Constructing Process: A Novel Multi-Scale Approach Combining Molecular and Physical Aspects

by The PLOS Computational Biology Staff

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Epithelial stratification shapes infection dynamics

by Carmen Lía Murall, Robert Jackson, Ingeborg Zehbe, Nathalie Boulle, Michel Segondy, Samuel Alizon

Infections of stratified epithelia contribute to a large group of common diseases, such as dermatological conditions and sexually transmitted diseases. To investigate how epithelial structure affects infection dynamics, we develop a general ecology-inspired model for stratified epithelia. Our model allows us to simulate infections, explore new hypotheses and estimate parameters that are difficult to measure with tissue cell cultures. We focus on two contrasting pathogens: Chlamydia trachomatis and Human papillomaviruses. Using cervicovaginal parameter estimates, we find that key infection symptoms can be explained by differential interactions with the layers, while clearance and pathogen burden appear to be bottom-up processes. Cell protective responses to infections (e.g. mucus trapping) generally lowered pathogen load but there were specific effects based on infection strategies. Our modeling approach opens new perspectives for 3D tissue culture experimental systems of infections and, more generally, for developing and testing hypotheses related to infections of stratified epithelia.

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Evolutionary dynamics of bacteria in the gut microbiome within and across hosts

by Nandita R. Garud, Benjamin H. Good, Oskar Hallatschek, Katherine S. Pollard

Gut microbiota are shaped by a combination of ecological and evolutionary forces. While the ecological dynamics have been extensively studied, much less is known about how species of gut bacteria evolve over time. Here, we introduce a model-based framework for quantifying evolutionary dynamics within and across hosts using a panel of metagenomic samples. We use this approach to study evolution in approximately 40 prevalent species in the human gut. Although the patterns of between-host diversity are consistent with quasi-sexual evolution and purifying selection on long timescales, we identify new genealogical signatures that challenge standard population genetic models of these processes. Within hosts, we find that genetic differences that accumulate over 6-month timescales are only rarely attributable to replacement by distantly related strains. Instead, the resident strains more commonly acquire a smaller number of putative evolutionary changes, in which nucleotide variants or gene gains or losses rapidly sweep to high frequency. By comparing these mutations with the typical between-host differences, we find evidence that some sweeps may be seeded by recombination, in addition to new mutations. However, comparisons of adult twins suggest that replacement eventually overwhelms evolution over multi-decade timescales, hinting at fundamental limits to the extent of local adaptation. Together, our results suggest that gut bacteria can evolve on human-relevant timescales, and they highlight the connections between these short-term evolutionary dynamics and longer-term evolution across hosts.

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Local radio station in Russia cancels interview with LGBT activists after threats to editor

Activists in Madrid protest LGBT rights violations in Russia // gaelx, under CC BY-SA 2.0

Echo of Moscow in Yaroslavl, a local affiliate of Echo of Moscow, Russia’s oldest independent radio network, cancelled an interview with LGBT activists after receiving homophobic threats, the station’s editor Lyudmila Shabuyeva said in a Facebook post:

Вчера поступили угрозы в адрес наших сегодняшних гостей и нас, если мы проведем эфир на тему ЛГБТ.

Я отменяю эфир.

Yesterday we received threats against our guests and ourselves if we proceed with our talk show about LGBT.
I’m cancelling the show.

According to independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, the show featuring Yaroslavl’s LGBT activists was scheduled to air in the early morning of Wednesday, January 23. The same activists had recently picketed the town’s main square to protest against the persecution of gay people in Russia, notably in the republic of Chechnya. The station invited them to be interviewed about the protest and their experience of being openly gay in provincial Russia.

Shabuyeva’s initial announcement of the show attracted a torrent of homophobic abuse in the comments, including some from local officials, but that didn’t put her off, she told Novaya Gazeta. However, late in the night before the show, Shabuyeva says, a stranger called her on the phone from an unidentified number and told her that if she were to proceed with the scheduled programming, her guests would be met outside the studio with baseball bats. She could also face problems, the anonymous caller threatened. Fearing for her guests’ safety, Shabuyeva cancelled the show and replaced it with another programming.

The picket on Yaroslavl’s main square was part of a national campaign #saveLGBTinRussia aimed at raising awareness about the brutal persecution of gay people in the republic of Chechnya. Similar pickets and rallies were held in other Russian cities.

Родина-мать призывает своих детей (граждан) бороться с ксенофобией и репрессиями в современной России. Очнитесь от её крика! #saveLGBTinRussiahttps://t.co/vpfTmPnCSM pic.twitter.com/blGzqv437E

— !Alliance | Альянс! (@hetero_for_lgbt) 22 января 2019 г.

The Motherland Calls on her children (the citizens) to fight xenophobia and repressions in modern Russia. Let her call awaken you!
[the sign says: RUSSIA’S DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE COULD FIND NO GAYS IN CHECHYA. THEY ARE THERE: IN PRISONS AND IN GRAVES. #SAVELGBTINRUSSIA HOMOPHOBIA=FASCISM

In April 2017, Novaya Gazeta reported that the authorities of Chechnya, a troubled Muslim republic in the south of Russia ruled by a former warlord Ramzan Kadyrov, was waging a brutal campaign of repressions against its LGBT population. Recent reports said the “purge” has been intensifying, with at least two victims dead and dozens held in illegal detention.

Written by RuNet Echo · comments (0)
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This is a satirical novel written by Edwin A. Abbott, first published in 1884. Abbott uses a two-dimensional world, with himself as the protagonist, known simply as “A Square”, to deride the Victorian aristocracy and its hierarchies. But the book has retained its value throughout the years for its unique portrayal of a two-dimensional world, and how a Sphere introduces the Square to the incomprehensible possibility of a third dimension. Once the square fully understands the third dimension, he suggests to the Sphere that even a fourth, fifth, or sixth dimension could exist. But the Sphere sends the square back to his two-dimensional world, where he cannot convince anyone of the existence of a three dimensional world. – Summary by Linda Olsen Fitak

Read by Linda Olsen Fitak and aaronwhite1977
This title is avalable for free download at: www.librivox.org.

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