KYRGYZSTAN: POLITICAL HISTORY OF TWO DECADES OF INDEPENDENCE

Vladimir PRYAKHIN


Vladimir Pryakhin, D.Sc. (Political Science), Member of the Russian Association of International Relations Studies (RAMI) (Moscow, Russia)


Introduction

For over twenty years now the Soviet-successor states have been building new statehoods in the territory that used to be the Soviet Union; not all of them have been equally successful, but each has hastened to declare its devotion to democratic ideals and principles.

During the first ten years of its independence Kyrgyzstan looked like a Central Asian island of democracy; since that time, however, the country has lived through two regime changes accompanied by the use of force, bloodshed, and mass disturbances.

Below is a summary of the countrys political experience during the two decades of its independence.

The First Decade and a Half: An Oasis of Democracy or the Khanate of an Emperor in New Clothes?

On 31 August, 2011, Kyrgyzstan, the role and place of which in the new global geostrategic paradigm has changed much more radically than those of any other country, marked twenty years of its independence.

In the past, few professional political scientists knew anything at all about Soviet Kirghizia. A prominent Sovietologist Prof. Audrey Altstadt of the University of Massachusetts wrote at one time that the U.S. intelligence community, which knew everything about life in the Kremlin, was not prepared for gathering information in the republics of the former Soviet Union. Knowledge was limited to the republics strategic uranium resources; it was also known as a place of soft exile for Soviet dissident intellectuals and erring Party functionaries such as Foreign Minister of the U.S.S.R. Dmitry Shepilov who spent several years working at the Academy of Sciences of the Kirghiz S.S.R. after the June 1957 C.C. C.P.S.U. plenary meeting.

Disintegration of the Soviet Union pushed the republic into the limelight of world politics, mainly because of its proximity to the arc of instability (Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq) and its transit potential to be used to deliver military cargoes to the counterterrorist coalition in Afghanistan. Its common border with Chinas western regions was another political and strategic argument.

Kyrgyzstans higher strategic value opened wide vistas for the countrys political elite and bred hopes that it could exploit the contradictions between the power centers in its political and money-grabbing interests.

The phenomenon of independent Kyrgyzstan (which under President Akaev looked like an island of democracy in the Central Asian ocean of authoritarianism) was born in this fairly complex and very contradictory context. In actual fact, however, the first fifteen years of flourishing democracy were nothing more than a product of.


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