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

Authorities repressed dissenting views over border delimitation agreement with Uzbekistan; tensions persisted along Tajik-Kyrgyz border as both sides traded accusations of military build-up.

Local tensions flared over final border delimitation agreement with Uzbekistan. Following govt’s breakthrough deal in March 2021 with Uzbekistan to resolve longstanding border disputes, sides drew closer during month toward agreement on definitive delimitation of shared border. However, frustration mounted among border communities over govt’s decision to hand ownership of Kempir-Abad reservoir, vital water source that lies between Osh region and Uzbekistan’s Andijan region, in return for land. Notably, opposition forces 15 Oct organised rally in Uzgen district’s Kyzyl-Oktyabr village near reservoir, where they criticised govt’s handling of border negotiations and demanded reservoir remain in Kyrgyz hands. In response, authorities 23 Oct repressed dissent, notably detaining at least 20 activists and politicians opposed to deal, accusing them of “organising and preparing mass riots”; court in Bishkek 25 Oct sent all detainees to pre-trial detention until at least Dec.

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan accused each other of mustering forces along border. Following deadly violence in Sept along disputed segment of border with Kyrgyzstan, President Sadyr Japarov and Tajik counterpart Rahmon 13 Oct met in Kazakh capital Astana along with Russian President Putin, who offered to help resolve border dispute. Yet tensions persisted, with Tajikistan’s border guard service 19 Oct accusing Kyrgyzstan of “deliberate actions aimed at escalating the situation in the border areas”, including “preparing firing positions, creating trenches, continuing to pull in additional military equipment and regularly violating [its] airspace”. Security services same day rejected “absolutely untrue” accusations, blaming Tajik armed forces for “preparing firing positions, digging trenches and making incursions with unmanned aerial vehicles”.

Authorities called on regional security organisation to station troops along border. Authorities 19 Oct asked Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), of which Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are members, to deploy peacekeeping troops at disputed parts of Kyrgyz-Tajik border to uphold fragile ceasefire, saying “until an arbitrator comes between us, say a small contingent from the CSTO, peace will not be achieved”.

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In The News

13 Oct 2017
If mishandled, [Kyrgyzstan's] election could shatter [the country's] facade of democracy. A fragile stability is at stake. AFP
Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan

Former Project Director, Central Asia

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