Posts Tagged ‘bishkek’

Kyrgyzstan: Strike Four for “Never Again”

In Uncategorized on June 17, 2010 at 2:29 am

It's not all ethnic-- economic, political and social factors all contribute to the recent crisis in Kyrgyzstan.

My first introduction to the recent Kyrgyz conflict was the Washington Post’s Express headline on my way to work last week. Horrifying pictures, dramatic official testimony, the whole bit. It caught me somewhat off-guard, since I didn’t know much about Kyrgyzstan except sheep eyes are considered a delicacy there, and the country was formed after the breakdown of the Soviet Empire. So here’s my effort to understand Kyrgyzstan and its ongoing cultural clashes.

Some background on Kyrgyzstan the country first. Historically, the population has been nomadic in nature. Now they’re still a mostly-mountainous country with a huge agricultural sector and relatively little industry. They’ve been dominated by Russia ever since 1876. During the Russian Revolution of 1916, Kyrgyzstan lost almost 1/6th of its population during protests. The area, called the Ferghana Valley, was split years ago by Joseph Stalin into Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The country formally gained independence after the dissolving of the Soviet empire in 1991. As with most newly-free countries, they’ve had some political strife–a natural result of dealing with the establishment and operations of an independent government. During the first 15 years, the country was governed by Askar Akayev, who was ousted after protests during Spring 2005. Then came Kurmanbek Bakiev, who tried to consolidate power by dismissing media critics and ousting political opponents. After protesting his 2009 re-election, the country elected Roza Otunbayeva to power, and he’s still in office today.

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