Kyrgyzstan: The next Ukraine?
The Diplomat - 03/03/2014
Kyrgyzstan was once known for its Tulip Revolution, a name the followed the trend of color-coded revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine. The ouster of the corrupt regime of President Askar Akayev in 2005 gave those Kyrgyz aspiring for a better future cause for hope, but expectations were quickly dampened. Akayev’s successor Kurmanbek Bakiyev suffered the same fate, with his removal from office in 2010.
The Kyrgyz Republic subsequently became the first ever parliamentarian state in Central Asia, normally a bastion of post-Soviet dictatorships. In this part of the world, presidents and their loyalists control politics, along with economic and financial assets. For Kyrgyzstan, the hope was that following two failed regimes in a decade, this novel rule by parliament and the peaceful transfer of power would break the ice of autocracy in Central Asia. Certainly the new leader of the republic—first as prime minister and then as fourth president—Almazbek Atambayev has spared no effort to convey his commitment to democracy.
Yet, like his predecessors, Atambayev has sought to extend his political power, strengthening control over lucrative businesses and persecuting his opponents. Overcoming the old authoritarian traditions has proven challenging. Today, factional infighting for power among the provincial clans and political regionalism continue to set the agenda for this small nation.