After his election as Kyrgyzstan’s president in October 2017, Sooronbai Jeenbekov inherited an economically uncertain state, which has failed to address more than twenty years of misrule despite emerging from two episodes of upheaval. Central Asia’s only nominal parliamentary democracy, Kyrgyzstan is divided along ethnic and regional lines, deeply corrupt and facing religious radicalisation in absence of a strong state. Crisis Group monitors ethnic and political tensions as well as wider regional relations.

CrisisWatch Kyrgyzstan

Unchanged Situation

Efforts to crack down on independent media and civil society drew condemnation from human rights groups and UN. 

Authorities moved against several media outlets and over a dozen journalists. Law enforcement agents and security services 15 Jan searched offices of news agency 24.KG and detained outlet’s director and two chief editors, Makhinur Niyazova and Anton Lymar, for several hours on charges of “war propaganda”; Niyazova told reporters actions linked to outlet’s coverage of Ukraine war. Ministry of Interior next day searched several other independent media organisations and detained eleven journalists and media workers on charge of “calls for disobedience and mass riots”. 

Human rights groups warned of growing threat to freedom of expression. Eight international human rights groups 16 Jan said raids came amid “worsening campaign against free speech in Kyrgyzstan”; UN human rights office 20 Jan echoed warning, saying actions “appear to be part of a larger pattern of pressure against civil society activists, journalists and other critics of the authorities”. Days later, parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Legislation 23 Jan endorsed draft law on “foreign representatives”, prompting number of human rights organisations 25 Jan to issue statement urging parliament to reject “Russia-style ‘foreign-agents bill’”. 

In another important development. During visit to Tajik capital, Dushanbe, Türkiye’s FM hinted at imminent border deal between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan (see Tajikistan).

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