Russia’s Low-Key Problem in Kyrgyzstan

Instability in this overlooked nation could upset the balance of power in Central Asia.

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On Oct. 4, Kyrgyzstan held parliamentary elections that, true to form, ended in political unrest. Rallies broke out the next day, leaving more than 1,200 injured in the ensuing clashes. Protesters seized the parliament building. They released former President Almazbek Atambayev from prison and have called for the removal from office of current President Sooronbai Jeenbekov. If this sounds familiar, it should. Over the past 30 years, Kyrgyzstan has had few legitimate transfers of power. The country’s first president, Askar Akayev, was ousted in 2005 following similar protests. He was replaced by Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was ousted during a coup in 2010. The interim president, Roza Otunbayeva, held office for just one year before transferring power to the elected president, Atambayev, who passed the post of the president in 2017 to Jeenbekov. It also bears a likeness to some other areas in Russia’s all-important periphery – namely, Belarus and Nagorno-Karabakh. And though Kyrgyzstan’s is still an exclusively internal affair, the timing raises questions with regard to Bishkek’s relationship with Moscow. To be clear, that relationship has been largely cooperative. Russia has always wanted to at least preserve its influence in Kyrgyzstan, which, despite its size and lack of wealth, occupies […]

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Ekaterina Zolotova
Ekaterina Zolotova is an analyst for Geopolitical Futures. Prior to Geopolitical Futures, Ms. Zolotova participated in several research projects devoted to problems and prospects of Russia’s integration into the world economy. Ms. Zolotova has a specialist degree in international economic relations from Plekhanov Russian University of Economics. In addition, Ms. Zolotova studied international trade and international integration processes. Her thesis was on features of economic development of Venezuela. She speaks native Russian and is fluent in English.