DEMOCRATIZATION IN POST-SOVIET CENTRAL ASIA: AMERICAN IMPACT

Yulia KOMLYAKOVA


Yulia Komlyakova, Ph.D. Candidate, Chair of International Relations and Foreign Policy, Donetsk National University (Donetsk, Ukraine)


ABSTRACT

The author analyzes how the Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan) are moving toward democracy, as well as the political and geopolitical reasons behind the United States interest in the region triggered by the Soviet Unions disintegration and Washingtons desire to consolidate its position in the post-Soviet space. It was determined to realize its interests by planting democratic values in the newly independent states and urging them to orientate themselves toward democratic principles when shaping their policies. In this way, the Central Asian countries could count on Washingtons political support and economic aid.

In an effort to enter the world scene as democratic states, the Central Asian countries built state structures that relied on constitutions describing them as democratic states; they created a party and election system and passed laws on the freedom of speech, glasnost, etc. This, however, has not transformed the post-Soviet Central Asian republics into paragons of democracy: the clan system is very much alive in the corridors of power; Soviet mentality remains predominant among state officials (practically all the top figures preserved their posts in the newly independent states); and the influence of Russia and the authoritarian traditions inherited from the past is still very obvious.

Keywords: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Central Asia, the U.S., democratization.

Introduction

As part of the Soviet Union, the Central Asian republics and the United States were involved in the Cold War as opponents or even adversaries. When the Soviet Union fell apart, American diplomacy wisely concentrated on all the post-Soviet states to prevent Russias stronger position in the post-Soviet space and in Central Asia in particular.

In the post-Cold War era, America, which no longer needed its military superiority but still had to keep potential rivals in check, armed itself with the


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