Getting Kyrgyzstan — and Central Asia — right
BRIEFING: Corruption, Repression, & Extremism in Central Asia-Looking Beyond Kyrgyzstan from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on Vimeo. Only infrequently does the leader of a centrally governed country put his or her money where his mouth is on the public’s right to choose, and actually step down. Oddly considering his reputation, Vladimir Putin comes to ...
BRIEFING: Corruption, Repression, & Extremism in Central Asia-Looking Beyond Kyrgyzstan from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on Vimeo.
Only infrequently does the leader of a centrally governed country put his or her money where his mouth is on the public’s right to choose, and actually step down. Oddly considering his reputation, Vladimir Putin comes to mind — in 2008, he could have discarded the Russian constitution entirely, and simply remained president, but instead opted at least to pay lip service to the law. So do the last three leaders of Ukraine, all of whom walked upright from their offices (in one case after a bit of a nudge) after electoral defeats.
Now we have Roza Otunbayeva, leader of Kyrgyzstan’s provisional government, proposing that she assume the title of president until December next year, then step down as a new president is chosen in new elections. According to a draft constitution, many of the president’s powers would be transferred to a Kyrgyz prime minister, and the elected president would serve a single, six-year term. All of this will be put before Kyrgyz voters on June 27th.
Otunbayeva’s neighbors no doubt will look scornfully at this arguably mindless relegation of power. Yet, disregarding Otunbayeva’s own sensibilities, it may be a requirement of holding the country together in this fragile time of often daily upheaval, as Andrew Moran reports at Digital Journal, along with new allegations of public theft.
For the long view of Kyrgyz events, and across the region, I recommend this video from an RFE-RL conference in Washington yesterday. The speakers were Bishkek-based Paul Quinn-Judge of the International Crisis Group, who formerly was TIME magazine’s Moscow bureau chief; Eric McGlinchey, a specialist on Central Asia at George Mason University; and Daniel Kimmage, of George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute. Among the takeaways are that the United States at its own risk associates itself with regional dictators, for the simple reason that these personalities can vanish in a flash; religion is embedded in the region, but it is highly unlikely to be washed over by militant Islam; and the current offensive in Pakistan’s tribal territories may result in a migration of Uzbek militants living there back to Central Asia.
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