Staunton, February 23 – Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s decision to name his wife as first vice president has attracted unusual attention to the wives of the other leaders of the post-Soviet countries. Two of those countries – Estonia and Lithuania – are headed by women; and about the first ladies of two others – Tajikistan and Turkmenistan – nothing is known.
But for the remaining 11, Kyrgyzstan’s Sputnik says, there is enough information to highlight at least some of the accomplishments of this remarkable club (ru.sputnik.kg/society/20170223/1031902947/zheny-prezidentov-stran-sng-chem-oni-zanimayutsya.html). Here is what that online magazine reported.
· Raisa Atambayev, Kyrgyzstan. A doctor who taught at the medical faculty of the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University in the past, she currently is involved in research and philanthropy.
· Sara Nazarbayeva, 76, Kazakhstan. An author whose works have promoted a healthy way of life, she is known both for her international involvement and for her listing as one of “the 16 wives of the most despotic leaders of the world,” according to Business Insider.
· Ziroatkhon Khoshimova, Uzbekistan. An engineer and economist, she studied as did her husband at the Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Melioration. She has devoted all of her adult life to her family.
· Ludmila Ocheretnaya, 59, former wife of Russian President Vladimir Putin. A philologist who has worked in many capacities including as an instructor of German. She and Putin divorced in 2013.
· Mekhriban Aliyeva, 52, Azerbaijan. A graduate of two higher educational institutions, a deputy in her country’s parliament since 2005, and president of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, she has been honored for her work by many UN organizations and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
· Galina Lukashenka, 62, Belarus. Since 1998, she has headed the Mohylev oblast committee for public health. She lives in a village and rarely accompanies her husband.
· Rita Sargsyan, 55, Armenia. A school teacher in the past, she is now active in children’s causes.
· Galina Dodon, 40. A media company official, she is involved in charity work.
· Maka Chichua, 52, Georgia. An actress, artist and singer, she works for Georgian television and has been involved in cinematography since 1988.
· Iveta Vējone, 50, Latvia. A teacher, she is involved in philanthropy and especially in promoting the causes of special needs children.
· Marina Poroshenko, 55, Ukraine. Trained as a cardiologist, she earlier worked in a Kyiv hospital. Now she oversees her husband’s charitable fund.