PROBLEMS OF MANAGING ETHNIC RELATIONS IN THE KYRGYZ REPUBLIC

Ainura ELEBAEVA
Nurbek OMURALIEV


Ainura Elebaeva, D.Sc. (Philos.), professor, scientific director of the Kyrgyzstan National Academy of Sciences Social Research Center

Nurbek Omuraliev, Ph.D. (Philos.), associate professor, director of the Kyrgyzstan National Academy of Sciences Social Research Center


State National Policy

World experience in resolving national problems is based on two main models.1 The first of them entails state regulation of ethnic development and ethnic relations and is used in most countries of the world. For example, in the Netherlands, Switzerland, and so on, special state structures have been created for dealing with the problems of ethnic population groups, protecting the interests and the rights of ethnic minorities, and regulating ethnic relations. In addition, there are countries in which a mono-ethnic orientation predominates and the specifically designated rights of ethnic minorities are strictly regulated (Germany, the U.S.). A special group is formed by states whose nationalities policy relies on a unified approach to ethnic minorities and who do not have any policy with respect to them (Japan, Latin America).

The second model functions in Turkey and Fiji, for example. There is no systemic regulation of ethnic problems and ethnic relations at the state level in these countries, and if such problems arise, they are resolved spontaneously like precedents, with the creation of special public structures for each case.

The formation and development of the Kyrgyzstan National Assembly creates a precedent for an essentially new approach to drawing up public regulation mechanisms and techniques in this field. Its innovation lies in the fact that a state-public form of nationalities policy optimization is being created. On the one hand, the state delegates its powers to the public structures, and on the other, the public structures assume social responsibility for maintaining and reinforcing consent among different nationalities. This integration of the activity of the state and civil society has several good prospects and is unique in world practice.

It is encouraging that the Kyrgyzstan National Assembly has gained international recognition and other CIS states have followed its example. In 1999, a protocol of intentions on exchanging work experience was signed between the Kyrgyzstan National Assembly and the Russian National Assembly. Recently, there have been signs of interaction between the Kyrgyzstan National Assembly and representatives of the Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan Assemblies. But an analysis of their activity shows that in some republics there is a tendency toward Assemblies’ standard functioning and their subordination to the state, for example, in Uzbekistan, whereas in Kazakhstan, its Assembly is directly incorporated into the state structures.

The Kyrgyzstan president and government continuously interact with the republic’s National Assembly, and promote greater consent among nationalities, as well as civilian peace and unity in every way possible, which is vital for the comprehensive and timely study of the interests of all ethnic groups and for improving the management of ethnic relations. De facto support by the supreme political leadership of the Assembly’s activity is the country’s state nationalities policy.

The urgent measures taken during interaction between the government agencies and public structures are helping to resolve the most pressing questions and reducing tension in society. This work-style is promoting an increase in activity among the ethnic minorities, helping to develop ethnic cultural centers, strengthen trust, and encourage greater openness in communication between the people of different nationalities and representatives of the government agencies. Unfortunately, according to the authors of this article, the representatives of ethnic minorities have still not been completely incorporated into the management process. It turns out that the Assembly only raises questions, which the state then resolves. A situation must be achieved in which the representatives of ethnic minorities take direct part in the resolution of all questions of ethnic interaction.

One of the Assembly’s most important tasks in the near future is strengthening ties with all ethnic groups, and achieving ethnic consent and peace. It should be noted that the Assembly works in several areas: it discusses problems within the diaspora; it holds a dialog among different ethnic groups; it discusses problems in the presidium of the organization itself and adopts working documents; it interacts with government agencies (ministries, departments, akimiats, the government, the presidential administration); it holds discussions between the head of state and representatives of the Assembly Council and diaspora leaders; it adopts decisions at the level of the Jogorku Kenesh (the parliament) and the republic’s government. The final goal of this work is to adopt political decisions on the problems raised by the Assembly.

According to its charter, the supreme agency of the Kyrgyzstan National Assembly is the republic’s national kurultai (congress), which is convened no less than once every four years. The kurultai elects the members of the Assembly Council, the activity of which is organized in accordance with the republic’s constitution and other laws, as well as decisions of the presidential administration, parliament, and government based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Assembly charter, and the directives and decisions adopted at the Kyrgyzstan national kurultais.

The main aspects of the Assembly’s activity include resolving questions of ethnic relations and coordinating the activity of ethnic cultural centers for studying the history and culture of the ethnic diasporas; resolving problems of personnel education and training, a healthy way of life and personal enlightenment, working with youth organizations, and youth employment; communicating with state management agencies; establishing interrelations with public-political parties, associations, the mass media, the Friendship Society, and religious confessions; developing international relations, national diplomacy, and economic and sociocultural integration with CIS countries; promoting human rights activity; drawing up linguistic policy; forming a financial and material-technical base for the Assembly itself.2

The Kyrgyzstan National Assembly has become a representative agency expressing the interests and hopes and protecting the rights of the multitude of ethnic groups residing in the republic.

At present, 28 ethnic cultural centers and public associations belong to the Assembly, which represent all the nationalities living in the republic.

It also has two regional branches—the Osh and the Dzhalal-Abad. Each of these regions has 10-15 ethnic cultural centers. The regional branches function on the basis of the Assembly’s prospective plans, taking into account regional characteristics. For example, a Palace of Friendship in which all the region’s ethnic cultural centers are located was opened in the Osh Region for developing and coordinating the activity of ethnic cultural centers and resolving ethnic problems. This greatly raised the prestige of the Assembly’s regional branch and cultural centers, since they all function under one roof, which allows them to be in constant communication with each other, and promotes mutual understanding and rapid resolution of any problems that arise in their activity. The regional branch and ethnic cultural centers conduct joint inter-national undertakings, thus strengthening ethnic relations in the south of the republic.

It can be claimed that the Kyrgyzstan National Assembly is still the only significant lever for managing ethnic relations in the country, since the republic has only just set about creating a legal basis for their development. That is, the state does not have any special government agencies, such as a state committee or ministry, for solving problems in ethnic interrelations. The president’s personal participation in their regulation is of course a rather progressive fact. But the efforts of one person, even if he is the head of state, are clearly insufficient to successfully resolve all the questions that arise. The authors of this article are in favor of creating legislative foundations of interaction in ethnic relations and developing specific legal, social, and other mechanisms for protecting the rights of ethnic minorities, which should be mandatory for all government agencies and at all levels.

Problems of Managing Ethnic Relations at the Local Self-Government Level

The efforts of the country’s administration to strengthen ethnic consent are very highly evaluated in the country and in the world community. But the republican authorities can only have general control over these processes at the level of the supreme political leadership, whereas at the local self-government level, essentially no one engages in questions of ethnic consent and interaction, and there is no legislative basis for such activity. But it is at the local self-government level that many vitally important problems of the ordinary people are resolved. This is particularly true since the territorial dispersion of ethnic communities is a characteristic feature of Kyrgyzstan, and all the ethnic minorities live in compact groups (separate villages, makhallia, etc.), especially in the south of the republic.

An analysis of the normative-legal base of the activity of local self-government agencies showed that legislation must be reviewed in order for them to work more efficiently and bring this work in harmony with universal standards. Local self-government is carried out pursuant to the republic’s constitution (Chapter 7 “Local Self-Government”) and the laws adopted on its basis.

The work of these structures is regulated by the Law on Local Self-Government and Local State Administration in the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, adopted on 19 April, 1991, the provision On the Fundamental Principles of Organizing Local Self-Government in the Kyrgyz Republic (22 September, 1994), the provision On the Fundamental Principles of Organizing Local Self-Government in Cities under District Jurisdiction in the Kyrgyz Republic (23 June, 1998), the temporary provision On District and Regional Keneshes of the Kyrgyz Republic (5 January, 1995), and other legislative acts.

A comparative analysis of the legislation of Kyrgyzstan on local self-government and the Worldwide Declaration of Local Self-Government (23-26 September, 1985, Rio de Janeiro), as well as the European Charter of Local Self-Government (15 October, 1985), reveals many common and coinciding elements, but there are also several major differences.3

First, there is no strict delimitation of powers among the local self-government agencies and the local state administration in the legislation of the Kyrgyz Republic, particularly at the lowest levels, where they are even directly combined.

Pursuant to the constitution (Art 95, Para 3), the local keneshes (deputy councils) function independently from the local state administration, while the provision On the Fundamental Principles of Organizing Local Self-Government… of 22 September, 1994 stipulates that “at the first session of the local kenesh ... the candidate for chairman is put forward by the head of the district, city state administration. The chairman of an aiyl (rural), settlement, or city kenesh is the head of the corresponding local self-government agency. The chairmen of aiyl and settlement keneshes also fulfill the functions of the local state administration.”

In so doing, “in the event of insurmountable disputes on the candidacy of a city head between the state administration and the city kenesh, the chairman of the regional kenesh issues an order to appoint an acting city head for a term of up to six months. In exceptional cases, a person can be appointed to this post who is not a deputy of the kenesh in question. In this case, the duties of the kenesh chairman are performed by one of the kenesh deputies free of charge” (Provision on the Fundamental Principles of Organizing Local Self-Government in Cities under District Jurisdiction... of 23 June, 1998).

Second, Art 2 of the Universal Declaration and Art 3 of the European Charter envisage the term for which local self-government agencies should be re-elected by means of equal and universal elections. And whereas in Russia and other countries, regional governors and the mayors of large cities are elected directly by the population of the corresponding territory, in Kyrgyzstan, the situation was entirely different until recently: “The activity of the local state administration shall be supervised on the principles of undivided authority by the head of the local state administration. The head of the regional and Bishkek city state administration is appointed by the Kyrgyzstan President as recommended by the Prime Minister and with the consent of the corresponding local kenesh. The head of the district, city, and city district state administration is appointed by the Prime Minister with the approval of the corresponding local keneshes as recommended by the state administration heads of the regions and the city of Bishkek and approved by the Kyrgyzstan President.

“The head of the regional and Bishkek city state administration is subordinate to the Kyrgyzstan President and Prime Minister, and the head of the district, city, and city district state administration is subordinate to the Kyrgyzstan Prime Minister and the head of the regional and Bishkek city state administration.

“If he fails to perform his official duties or commits an act of disrepute, the head of the local state administration may be dismissed from his post by the Kyrgyzstan President or Prime Minister, respectively.

“The regional, Bishkek city, district, city, and city district local keneshes have the right to declare a vote of no-confidence in the local state administration head by a two third majority of the total number of deputies and raise the question of his dismissal. The Kyrgyzstan President or Prime Minister should decide this question within one month and notify the corresponding local kenesh” (Law of the Kyrgyz Republic on Local Self-Government and Local State Administration in the Republic of Kyrgyzstan of 19 April, 1991).

Thus, the heads of local state administrations were appointed and dismissed by higher-standing authorities and correspondingly answered to them, rather than to the population of the corresponding administrative territory.

Third, Art 5 of the Universal Declaration and Art 3 of the European Charter set forth that the local government agencies may create special internal administrative structures for resolving specific tasks. Pursuant to Kyrgyzstan legislation “…the structure of the regional and Bishkek city state administration is approved by the government as recommended by the head of the regional and Bishkek city state administration within the limit of budget assignations envisaged for its upkeep. The structure of the district, city, and city district state administration is approved by the higher-standing local state administration as recommended by the head of the district, city, and city district state administration within the budget assignations envisaged for its upkeep.”

Even these examples show that, until recently, local self-government in Kyrgyzstan was based on a power “vertical,” whereby the desire of the higher-standing government agencies took precedence over the people’s choice. In other words, the vector for forming administrative structures was directed not from “the people up,” but from “the leadership down.” This conception of local self-government contains no trace of its universal meaning. Admittedly, there have been certain achievements, but executive power has been the boss in the technical and real sense.

Recently, certain trends toward further democratization of the local self-government structures have begun to make themselves felt. For example, in 2000, the first pilot elections for chairmen of the aiyl okmotu (rural administrations) were held in 12 aiyl okmotu. Independent experts noted several shortcomings in the first elections (excessive interference of the higher-standing agencies, no ethnic diversity among the contenders to the posts, and so on). Some of these shortcomings have already been corrected or eliminated from the Election Code. But local residents are still rather wary about ignoring the interests of ethnic communities.

On 16 December, 2001, elections of the heads of local self-government were held in the republic. As the Central Election Commission reported, 2,218 candidates were registered for 460 seats in eight regions, that is, approximately an average of five people contended for one post. Voter meetings put forward 1,883 candidates, 322 proposed their own candidacies, and 13 came from political parties. There were a total of 148 women among the candidates,4 but no data had been published on the national affiliation of the candidates at the time this article was prepared.

T. Omuraliev, minister of local self-government and regional development affairs and director of the state agency on registering rights to real estate, asked international organizations even before the elections to carry out training of the newly elected heads of the aiyl okmotu.5 After all, they need to have the corresponding knowledge and skills in order to work successfully, particularly with respect to such important topics as the foundations of ethnic tolerance and the prevention and settlement of conflict situations on ethnic grounds. There is also the urgent need for a normative-legal base to regulate the activity of local self-government in the protection of the rights of ethnic minorities.

Problems of Improving Management in Kyrgyzstan’s Multiethnic Society

The National Academy of Sciences Social Research Center continuously conducts sociological studies on the problems of ethnic interaction in the republic. For example, it participated in a project organized by the Management Academy under the country’s president and supported by the OSCE Supreme Commissar Office on National Minorities’ Affairs. In the summer of 2000, the first stage of this work was conducted—studies on “The Management of Ethnic Relations in the Kyrgyz Republic.” Their main goal was to reveal the main problems in ethnic relations and create corresponding management methods and mechanisms (primarily for resolving conflict situations).

The sociological study was conducted using two different methods: first by interviewing experts, that is, state officials of various power structures, mainly in the regions, in other words, carrying out a survey of the employees of local government agencies; and second by asking the representatives of ethnic minorities, including activists in the nongovernmental sector who live in the Batken, Osh, Dzhalal-Abad, and Chu regions, and in Bishkek to fill out questionnaires.

Based on the principle of representative territorial selection, no fewer than 30 (a total of 150) interviews with state officials and no fewer than 70 (a total of 350) questionnaires among the population, representatives of ethnic minorities, had to be conducted in each region. A total of 173 experts, that is, state officials of various ranks and various fields of management in the Batken, Osh, Dzhalal-Abad, and Chu regions and Bishkek participated in the interviews. Among them were 41% Kyrgyz, 23.7% Russians, 14.5% Uzbeks, 5.8% Ukrainians, 2.3% Tajiks, 2.3% Tatars, 1.2% Kazakhs, 0.6% Koreans, 0.6% Turks, and 2.9% representatives of other nationalities.

A total of 361 residents of the Batken, Osh, Dzhalal-Abad, and Chu regions and Bishkek participated in the questionnaires. Among them were 29.1% Uzbeks, 22.4% Russians, 13.3% Kyrgyz, 4.7% Tatars, 4.7% Uighurs, 3.6% Kazakhs, 3.0%, Tajiks, 2.8% Dungans, 1.9% Ukrainians, 1.7% Germans, 1.7% Koreans, and 9.7% representatives of other nationalities. On the whole, the overall selection was extremely representative, reflected the opinion of the multinational population, and presented two viewpoints on the development of ethnic relations in the republic, that of the government agencies and that of the ordinary people.6

Almost every third employee of the state apparatus, that is, representatives of the expert group (34.7%), denied any discrimination according to nationality. All the same, this group of respondents singled out three main problems: 22.5%—personnel, 13.3%—linguistic, and 8.1%—border.

An analysis of the opinion of the experts, if based on their national affiliation, shows certain differences in priorities with respect to territorial residence. For Kyrgyz, the most important are, 16.9%—personnel and 11.3%—border problems; for Russians: 34.1%—personnel, 22%—linguistic, and 12.2%—problems arising in religious life; for Uzbeks: 24%—personnel, 16%—border, and 16%—political, relating to the past election campaign; for Tajiks: 25%—border and the same amount—linguistic problems. In the group of representatives of other nationalities, the range of problems was approximately the same: personnel, linguistic, sociopsychological, and everyday.

The opinion of state officials coincides to a certain extent with the results of the survey of the ordinary people—the representatives of ethnic minorities. Among them, 63.7% believe that there is no official discrimination of the representatives of other nationalities in the political sphere, whereas 33.8% indicated that it exists, 0.8% noted discrimination in the unofficial sphere, at an everyday level, another 0.8% in linguistics, and 0.3% noted personnel problems and claimed that it is impossible for Russians to find a job.

In so doing, the absolute majority (73.4%) were unable to give specific cases of discrimination at the legislative level. Although representatives of this group of respondents noted that in the personnel (8.7%) and linguistic spheres (3.5%), certain problems have still not been resolved. For example, an analysis of the national aspect revealed complaints by Russians relating to linguistic—9.8% and personnel—4.9% questions, and Uzbeks expressed their dissatisfaction with the unequal representation in the government agencies—24%.

To the question: “In which structures of state power is the representation of different nationalities violated (people are not employed because of their nationality)?”—representatives of ethnic minorities replied as follows: 19.7%—police structures, 19.1%—akimiat structures, 18%—tax services, 16.1%—judicial sphere, 15.8%—customs. An analysis of the respondents’ answers with respect to nationality showed that Russians are dissatisfied with their representation in the police force—54.3%, in tax services—42%, in customs—40.7%, in the akimiats—37%, in the judicial structures—32.1%, and in parliament—30.9%. Uzbeks expressed their desire to have greater representation in the akimiats—16.2%, in the judicial structures—13.3%, and in the tax services—9.5%.

Complaints from respondents in the second group (the ordinary people) about the insufficient representation of ethnic minorities in the government agencies, particularly in the local structures, are entirely justified. For example, during the study, employees of the Social Research Center were unable to obtain any official data in the state structures about the representation of ethnic minorities in the government agencies. By observing and interviewing the experts, it was established that there is a clear majority of citizens of the titular nationality in the regional administration structures: there was not one representative of an ethnic minority in the leadership of the Batken Region, there were 3-4 such representatives in the leadership of the Osh Region, and 3-4 in the leadership of the Dzhalal-Abad Region.

The absolute majority of respondents from among the state officials (69.4%) is convinced that these questions should be resolved by the state. At the same time, 12.1% believe that the state needs society’s help, as well as international financing of special programs aimed at the timely resolution of ethnic problems. Approximately the same amount (11.6%) believe that this problem is entirely resolvable, all it needs is willingness on the part of the authorities.

An important aspect of the study was revealing the government agencies to which representatives of ethnic minorities turn with complaints about national discrimination: 28.3% of those discriminated against did not turn anywhere, and 2.5% responded that there was no point in making a complaint, and it could even make matters worse. Almost 30% do not believe that their honor and dignity will be protected. Only 5.3% turned to the police, and 1.7% to the judicial structures. Among them were Russians (4.9% and 3.7%), Uzbeks (6.7% and 1%), Uighurs (11.8% and 5.9%), Kyrgyz (2.1% and 2.1%), Ukrainians (14% and 0%), Kazakhs (7.7% and 0%), and representatives of other nationalities (5.7% and 0%), respectively. But judicial statistics show that during the first half of 2000, only two legal proceedings were instigated in connection with a breach of Art 299 of the Kyrgyzstan Criminal Code (“Arousing Religious, Racial, and National Hostility…”), both in the Osh Region. But they reviewed cases against the activists of the illegal religious party Hizb ut-Tahrir, and did not have anything to do with ethnic problems.

Some respondents also turned to other agencies: 1.1% each to the government, local akimiat, and Council of Aksakals; 0.8% to the regional administration structures; and 0.3% each to the presidential administration and the Kyrgyzstan National Assembly (association of fellow-countrymen, ethnic cultural center).

Such a small number of those appealing for help shows that the ordinary people have either lost faith in the protection of their national dignity, or do not know how to go about submitting a complaint.

Nevertheless, from the viewpoint of the respondents in the first group, the following structures function most efficiently in ethnic relations: 28.3%—the local state administrations, representatives of the executive power; 19.1%—the “power” departments (National Security Ministry, Interior Ministry, Public Prosecutor’s Office); 16.2%—the Jogorku Kenesh, deputies; 10.4%—the government; 9.8%—presidential power.

The hierarchy of priorities shows that the closer the government agencies come to resolving ordinary everyday questions, the greater their possibilities for successfully resolving the problems of discrimination of the ethnic minorities. Indeed, from the heights of presidential power or the government, it is difficult to follow individual violations of the rights of ethnic minorities in specific regions.

From the point of view of the ordinary people (the representatives of ethnic minorities), the following structures enjoy the greatest authority with respect to improving ethnic relations: 53.2%—republic-level state administration structures, 31.6%—authoritative people, including the aksakals, 20.8%—district administration structures, 18.8%—nongovernmental organizations, parties, movements, 18.6%—regional administration structures, etc.

An analysis of the responses shows that in the southern regions, the authority of the republic-level state power and aksakals is traditionally strong, and the regional and district administrative structures also carry a lot of clout. In the Chu Region and in Bishkek, along with the republic-level authorities and aksakals, the activity of nongovernmental organizations and movements is highly evaluated. Their authority in this field is higher than that of the local government agencies. Similar responses were also given by Russians and Uzbeks. Kyrgyz and the representatives of other nationalities traditionally prefer the local government agencies and put the nongovernmental sector in second place.

The respondents of the first group believe that local government agencies and law enforcement agencies are the most effective, and the second group mostly trusts the supreme republic-level state agencies, authoritative people, nongovernmental organizations, and only then the local administrations. Apparently, the ordinary people do not feel that the local government agencies are ready to “steer” their problems, but perhaps the employees of these structures are not yet able to smoothly resolve ethnic conflicts, or do not have the opportunity.

Recently, in the south of the country, particularly in the Batken Region, the activity of the public foundation For International Tolerance has been acquiring increasing popularity. Its mission is to prevent and resolve ethnic conflicts, and in this sphere, the foundation has successfully implemented several projects. Among them are “Teaching Tolerance and Conflict Transformation” among school children, “A Network of Good-Will Messengers” as representatives of national diplomacy, and so on. This organization has attracted grants totaling more than $1.5 million to the southern region, which have been allotted by many international organizations.7 Such activity in the nongovernmental sector is worthy of every means of support.

A significant number of the experts (20.8%) believe that the legislative base should be strengthened in order to achieve the more successful resolution of ethnic problems: punishment measures for manifestations of nationalism should be toughened up; the incorporation of representatives of ethnic minorities into all state power structures, including their supreme echelon, should be reviewed legislatively; and laws should be adopted on personnel policy. In addition, 13.3% of those surveyed from this group propose expanding the powers of the local administration and self-government structures; 9.8% suggest resolving economic problems, giving special attention to land issues and privatization, as well as rendering the necessary financial help, including crediting; 8.7% emphasize promulgating the ideology of internationalism and explaining the importance of having a tolerant attitude toward the representatives of other nationalities; 6.4% are in favor of creating special state agencies, for example, a National Affairs Committee, which would have the power to resolve problems in ethnic relations not only at the republican, but also at the international level.

Representatives of the Kyrgyz nationality believe the main problems to be: amending the legislation—23.9% and expanding the powers of local government agencies—14.1%; Russians: legislation—17.1%, financial support—12.2%; whereas Uzbeks put the emphasis on expanding the powers of the local administration structures—44% and amending the legislation—20%.

In order to reduce conflicts in the regions, 30.1% of the respondents propose the following economic measures: raising the prosperity of the people, organizing additional jobs, creating equal working conditions for the representatives of all nationalities, including equal access to material resources (land, credits), and reducing rural migration. Among the other proposals were promulgation and prevention (conducting continuous work with the population, conducting more joint measures aimed at mutual understanding and cooperation in the field of culture, everyday life, and so on)—24.9%; legislative changes (envisaging the equal development of all nationalities, developing laws on the rights of ethnic minorities)—12.7%; improving personnel policy (taking into account the specifics of multinational staff in work collectives, creating corresponding conditions for developing ethnic minorities and ensuring their broad access to state service, abolishing the principle of employment based on nationality and place of birth)—11%; comprehensive resolution of social problems—10.4%.

Kyrgyz are more confident in the effectiveness of economic (33.8%), propagandistic (26.8%), and social (12.2%) measures. Russians support changes in the economy (34.1%), legislation (12.2%), and linguistic practice (12.2%). Uzbeks hope to activate promulgation of internationalism—40%, changes in the economy—20%, legislative initiative—16%, personnel progress—12%, and stepping up of the work of local administration structures—12%.

Conclusion

The urgent problems of ethnic relations in the republic was the topic of a survey conducted by the National Academy of Sciences Social Research Center together with the Kyrgyzstan National Assembly among the delegates and guests of the Kyrgyzstan Third National Kurultai, which was held on 30 June, 2000. More than 2,000 people participated in it. According to the rules of the selective aggregate (the participation of no less than 10% of all those present), 208 delegates and guests of the kurultai participated as respondents. Among them were 42.3% Kyrgyz, 18.3% Russians, 2.9% Uzbeks, and 35.1% representatives of other nationalities. According to place of residence, the representation looked as follows: 66.8%—in the city of Bishkek, 19.7%—the Chu, 3.8%—Issyk Kul, 2.4%—Talas, 0.5%—Naryn, 2.4%—Osh, and 1.9%—Dzhalal-Abad regions.

Thus, on the whole the selective groups were sufficiently representative and reflected the sociodemographic parameters of the kurultai delegates and guests.

The main factors of stabilization in ethnic relations were divided into four groups: political, socioeconomic, legal, and cultural-linguistic. The respondents indicated the measures necessary for stabilizing ethnic relations, which also confirm the results of the above-mentioned sociological study.8 In so doing, some of those questioned proposed several alternatives for each group of factors.

In politics, the following factors were the most popular: 45.7%—equal personnel representation of ethnic groups in all the government structures (this thought was supported by 57.9% Russians, 83.3% Uzbeks, only 22.7% Kyrgyz, and 63% representatives of other nationalities); 35.6%—strengthening the republic’s bilateral and multilateral economic and political foreign relations (mainly Kyrgyz); 35.1%—increasing the responsibility of all political entities for dealing with the fomenting of ethnic dissent and mistrust (here too Kyrgyz were in the majority—38.6%); 15.4%—the problem of granting duel citizenship (most popular among Russians—28.9%).

In the socioeconomic sphere: 52.9%—resolving the problem of finding work, including creating additional jobs (Uzbeks were in the majority—83.3%); 36.1%—increasing social protection of the population (raising stipends, pensions, benefits, etc.) was noted equally by representatives of all the nationalities; 33.7%—dealing with the increase in prices and drop in standard of living (Russians were mostly interested in this—39.5%); 11.1%—decreasing the migration flows from the republic (this was noted by 19.2% of the respondents of non-titular nationalities).

In the legal sphere: 54.8%—toughening up criminal and administrative liability for manifesting nationalism and humiliating feelings of national dignity at an everyday level (the representatives of almost all nationalities are in favor of this, but most of all Russians—57.9%); 21.6%—ensuring equal opportunities for obtaining a higher education (this problem is most keenly felt by the representatives of non-titular nationalities—30.1%); 17.8%—providing legal guarantees and mechanisms for protecting the rights of ethnic minorities (this interests Russians—23.7% and Uzbeks—30.1%); 16.3%—dealing with the lack of legal guarantees, and in this respect prospects for professional growth among the ethnic minorities (also noted by Russians—28.9% and Uzbeks—50%).

In the cultural-linguistic sphere: 34.6%—the absence of press, literature, textbooks and teaching tools in native languages (50% of these complaints came from Uzbeks); 19.2%—transferring office work into the state language (25% Kyrgyz); 18.8%—the lack of opportunity for obtaining an education (schools, universities) in the native language was noted again by the representatives of non-titular nationalities (26%); 8.2%—the lack of national theaters, artistic creative collectives (this was the opinion of 15.8% of all the Russians surveyed, but if the data are also based on place of residence, those living in the Chu Region, who gave this response, amounted to 14.6%).

According to most of the experts (the first group of respondents, that is, state officials), the following structures could have an influence on the ethnic situation: 35.3%—the president; 19.1%—the Jogorku Kenesh (as a branch of power, and the parliament deputies themselves); 19.1%—joint efforts by the whole of society (from the ordinary citizen to the president); 17.9%—the government, and 9.8%—the local self-government structures (if they obtain greater powers and their financing is increased).

On the whole, the study designated the main factors preventing democratic treatment of multiethnic communities, revealed the main ways to overcome these problems, and determined the most authoritative structures (both in the governmental and nongovernmental sectors) which, under favorable circumstances, could succeed in resolving them.


1 See: A. Fukalov, “Funktsionirovanie sistemy podderzhki etnicheskogo razvitia i optimizatsii mezhnatsional’nykh otnoshenii v Kyrgyzskoi Respublike,” Etnicheskiy mir, No. 1, 1998, p. 10.

2 See: Vtoroi kurultai naroda Kyrgyzstana, ed. by N.A. Omuraliev, Bishkek, 1998, p. 75.

3 See: “Vsemirnaia deklaratsiia o mestnom samoupravlenii;” “Evropeiskaia khartia mestnogo samoupravleniia,” Politika i obshchestvo (Bishkek), No. 2, 2000, pp. 113-126.

4 See: “Vybornye igry na pole aiyl okmotu,” Slovo Kyrgyzstana, 23 November, 2001.

5 See: “Nasha konechnaia tsel—narodnoe samoupravlenie,” Obshchestvenniy reiting, 15 November, 2001.

6 Current archive of the Kyrgyz Republic National Academy of Sciences Social Research Center, Bishkek, 2000.

7 See: “Preduprezhdenie luchshe lechenia,” Res Publica, 27 November, 2001.

8 See: XXI vek—vek protsvetania, druzhby i konsolidatsii naroda Kyrgyzstana. Materialy Tret’ego kurultaia naroda Kyrgyzstana, ed. by S. Begaliev, N. Omuraliev, and A. Fukalov, Bishkek, 2000, pp. 158-178.


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