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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

Amid ongoing tensions with Tajikistan, sides struck new agreement to stabilise border. Following deadliest fighting on Kyrgyz-Tajik border in years in April, authorities 4 June announced they bolstered border security presence after observing that Tajikistan had violated past agreements by installing container and deploying military personnel and equipment on unmarked border segment in Kyrgyz’s Chon-Alai district in southern Osh region; Tajik officials same day dismissed concerns. Kyrgyz and Tajik officials 5 June struck new nine-point agreement, including provisions to withdraw troops and military equipment and relocate respective border posts 3km from border; Kyrgyz authorities next day withdrew reinforcements after reporting that Tajik side had removed container. Heads of Tajikistan’s northern Sughd region and Kyrgyzstan’s southern Batken region 16 June held meeting to discuss border issues, reportedly forging agreement on water distribution. Meanwhile, group of Kyrgyz lawyers and activists 6 June requested International Criminal Court initiate investigation into Tajikistan’s military conduct during recent escalation; Kyrgyz govt 15 June criticised application, stating that “such initiatives can harm the political and diplomatic solution of the issue”. During 28-29 June official visit to Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe, President Japarov described late-April military escalation as “heavy test” for both countries. Meanwhile, around 50 protesters 30 June gathered in capital Bishkek in opposition to controversial bill that could establish govt watchdog to monitor posting of online content; activists complained bill violates freedom of speech.
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Reports & Briefings

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

Former Project Director, Central Asia

Latest Updates

End the Weaponisation of Water in Central Asia

Four Central Asian states – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – have argued over their water resources since the collapse of the Soviet Union. At times these disputes have seemed to threaten war. The forthcoming presidential summit in Astana can help banish that spectre.

Picturing Islam in Kyrgyzstan

Crisis Group’s Publications Officer Julie David de Lossy, formerly a freelance photographer of Central Asia, travels to Kyrgyzstan to take a look through her camera lens at the context of our conflict-prevention work.

Kyrgyzstan: State Fragility and Radicalisation

The rapid rise of alternative interpretations of Islam, often at odds with the state’s concept of traditional identity, are being fueled in part by endemic corruption and perceptions of incompetency. The government must end economic marginalisation and improve inadequate institutions, or risk not just threats to internal security but also the resurfacing of ethnic tensions.

Also available in Кыргызча, Русский, 简体中文 and other languages
Briefing / Europe & Central Asia

Kyrgyzstan: An Uncertain Trajectory

Kyrgyzstan’s relative stability belies the country’s brittle Central Asian neighbourhood, simmering ethnic tensions, religious extremism and political frustration. Russia, the West and China share interests here, creating a unique opportunity to work together for Kyrgyzstan’s democratic development during and after the upcoming 4 October parliamentary elections.

Also available in 简体中文