July 18-22: expansion, slander and gas shortage

Kyrgyzstan is still shaken with the fever of nationalism. As reported on Monday, 18 July 2011, an incident of fist-fighting occurred between representatives of the two major ethnic groups in Southern Kyrgyzstan’s Aravan town. Reportedly, two taxi drivers couldn’t decide who was supposed to let the other pass and resorted to the a-la macho style of settling disputes. Official reports refute any ethnicity-based motives; the ethnic Kyrgyz taxicab driver’s relatives/friends/supporters gathered in front of a local administration demanding to find and punish the Uzbek cab driver, whose relatives did not stage any rallies. Several local residents also say there is…

June 20-24: elections, Customs Union, June 2010

The “Island of Democracy” in Central Asia is still in the midst of typhoons and rainstorms hitting it every five years. Although believed to be more advanced in terms of democratic norms when compared against neighbors, on Monday, 20 June 2011, a news agency reported the Foreign Policy magazine and Fund for Peace found Kyrgyzstan as the most inefficient country among the post Soviet countries. Ironically, one of the post-Soviet countries that received perhaps the largest amount of U.S. support, Georgia, was ranked in the 40s – democracy is either bad for ex-Soviet countries or the evaluating agencies thought dictatorship…

MP Tashiyev claims innocence, calls authorities cowards

MP Kamchibek Tashiyev is one of the most known faces among the 120 in the parliament. His ascend to and presence in power has been controversial ever since he was appointed an emergencies minister by President Bakiyev in 2007. Some say his business — a chain of petroleum stations — helped him to first become an MP and then a minister, whereas other point to the fact that Bakiyev and Tashiyev are fellow-townsmen. He again rose to power after his former boss fled and has so far been known more as a boxer, not an MP.

June 13-18: price hike, elections, June 2010 revisited

Thankfully, the last week did not see the repetition of the massive calamity that befall Osh and Jalalabad exactly a year ago, as rumors among the population had it. On Monday, 13 June 2011, Kursan Asanov, deputy interior minister, told a meeting of law enforcing agencies that the high alert security would gradually be lowered and quartered officers would be able to return to regular service. Stepping up the alert level is a proper action in such cases, it is not clear why the Kyrgyz interior ministry believes the time after the anniversary of the tragic events does not require…

May 16-20: freedom of speech, NATO/UNDP and energy security

Kyrgyz Premier Almazbek Atambayev received the first female Administrator of the United Nations Development Program Helen Clark on Monday, 16 May, and expressed his gratitude to the UNDP for all the money Kyrgyzstan received. According to Premier Atambayev, the UNDP’s financial assistance is “important” to develop democracy. In her turn, Administrator Clark said the UN’s development arm is going to continue “the only parliamentary democracy” in Central Asia. Kyrgyzstan has been making rounds asking for help ever since the Soviet Union collapsed, so Premier Atambayev is only stating the obvious, whereas the UNDP is hoping Kyrgyzstan will re-emerge as an…

KIC reports stirs controversial responses

The Kyrgyzstan Inquiry Commission (KIC) completed its research into the tragic events that have taken place in the southern Kyrgyz town of Osh in June of 2010. The bloody events have left over 400 persons (officially) dead, thousands of homes belonging to “one ethnic group” burnt to ashes or looted and hundreds of service-based institutions destroyed. The KIC included several international (hence independence and impartiality) politicians and researchers under the leadership of the Finnish politician Kimmo Kiljunen. The KIC researched into these events—traveled to Southern Kyrgyzstan, interviewed both ethnic groups and officials, and carried out other activities—and has released its…

May 2-6: Borders, bombs and foreign policy

Kyrgyzstan’s new government identified disputed borderlines as national security concerns. One of its members, President Roza Otunbayeva, visited the southernmost Batken Region on Monday, May 2. Lately, the region has become known for several cross-border clashes that involved not only interethnic standoffs, but also law enforcing bodies of the two countries. Otunbayeva visited two border frontier posts along this extremely porous border. Kyrgyzstan has serious border-related concerns with Uzbekistan as well; it will be no surprise if Ms Otunbayeva extends her visit to other frontier posts along the borderline in southern Kyrgyzstan. Tuesday, May 3, was rich with events of…

April 11-15: Allegations, deaths, counter-terrorism

The week of 11-15 April was full of various events in Uzbekistan. Events ranging from new factories to blasts to high-profile international conventions took place in the country. One of the prominent ones was the legendary Brazilian football player Rivaldo’s decision to sue his employer, a Tashkent-based football club, and claim 16m euros he claims he was underpaid. The FC is allegedly owned by the current president’s older daughter. By the way, the younger daughter is suing a French magazine for calling her father “a dictator”. The following is a compilation of other interesting developments in the country.

March 28 – April 1: Nationalism, dismissal, allegations, boxing

The end of the month of March has also symbolically ended acting Prosecutor General Kubatbek Baybolov’s term in office. But, before President Otunbayeva signed a decree relieving Baybolov from post, his now former office announced on Monday, 28 March, that it was resuming the investigation into embezzlement and other allegations reportedly committed by the Totmok town’s former mayor and currently an MP, Kanybek Isayev. While the state administration system in Kyrgyzstan does have multiple schemes for embezzlement and other crimes, Baybolov was not driven by the desire to bring the alleged culprit to justice – it was yet another link…

Kyrgyz President’s Apology Declined

Ms Otunbayeva has been very polite lately. She has offered an apology to Latvia for nationalizing private companies in Kyrgyzstan, which were partially or wholly owned by Latvian shareholders among other foreign investors. She has then issued an apology to those at home. To those at home who faced either death or injury or emigration, to be specific. She has traveled to the devastated city of Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan where she apologized on behalf of the then interim government for “being unable to prevent and stop the massacre.”

Controversial citizenship rule can spark emigration hike

There have been many cases when animosity forced ethnic minorities to leave or wish to do so. A similar trend  has been observed in Kyrgyzstan, mainly in badly hit southern regions, since the bloody events termed an  “interethnic clash” took place in June 2010. For some reason the “interethnic” conflict had disproportionately  hurt ethnic Uzbeks, who are a minority group at the national level, but are actually a majority in Southern  Kyrgyzstan. Despite the figures, they were the ones who suffered from an immeasurably higher death toll and  loss of property. Maybe that is the reason why as many as…

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