Alexander KRYLOV

Alexander Krylov, D.Sc. (Hist.), Senior Fellow at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow, Russian Federation)

With the advent of Soviet power, Islam and Christian Orthodoxy in Kyrgyzstan retreated into the background and lost much of their former influence to the extent that, when the Soviet Union collapsed, the Muslim clergy proved incapable of alleviating the contradictions inside the Muslim community and preventing ethnic clashes. In 1989, the Kyrgyz and Tajiks came to blows over land plotsthere are still about 70 disputed plots in the village of Uch-Dobo. In 1990, the Kyrgyz and Uzbeks clashed in the Osh Region in the countrys south. In both cases, the official Islamic clergy proved impotent in the face of the dramatic events and were unable to normalize the situation.

The Kyrgyz, however, remained devoted to popular Islam and its everyday practices: throughout the Soviet period it was a tool of self-identity and an element of the locals way of life. The local Muslims continued practicing it on an everyday basis, but on a national clan-dominated scale Islam lost some of its pre-revolutionary importance.

State atheism, the policy consistently pursued across the Soviet Union, left a void in the post-Soviet world rapidly filled with all sorts of radical Islamic ideas and new sects and religious (including totalitarian) organizations. The Soviet Unions demise revived religious feelings in all social groups. It was in the early post-Soviet period that the country acquired scores of new mosques and Orthodox churches as well as new religious trends. The Koran was..

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