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

Parliament passed “foreign representatives” draft law in first reading amid human rights concerns; Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan made progress on border demarcation.

Parliament passed contentious “foreign representatives” draft law in first reading. Parliament 17 Oct held first reading of “foreign representatives” draft law amid rising concerns. Notably, UN Special Rapporteurs 13 Oct warned about wide powers draft law grants, such as unscheduled inspections of NGOs, which “could be used against organizations that voice criticism or dissent against the Government”; High Commissioner for Human Rights 13 Oct said bill “would risk violating fundamental rights to freedom of expression and association”; and NGO Human Rights Watch 16 Oct cautioned it “would have a chilling effect on Kyrgyzstan’s vibrant civil society”. Despite warnings, parliament 25 Oct passed draft law in first reading, with just seven voting against legislation and 52 voting in favour.

Bishkek hosted CIS summit with Putin in attendance. Russian President Vladimir Putin 12-13 Oct visited Kyrgyzstan in first trip abroad since International Criminal Court issued his arrest warrant in March 2023 for alleged war crimes in Ukraine. Other leaders of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) – regional intergovernmental organisation comprising former Soviet republics – 13 Oct arrived in capital Bishkek for annual summit, aside from Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan. According to Russian state news agency, Putin pledged to continue strengthening CIS’ “contacts with friendly states and international organisations”, and claimed Russia’s economic ties with CIS partners were expanding despite Western sanctions.

Bishkek and Dushanbe made progress on border delimitation and demarcation. Heads of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan’s security services 2 Oct reportedly signed protocol in Batken city on demarcation and delimitation of disputed border areas; neither side published details of protocol, but Chairman of Kyrgyzstan’s Committee for National Security Kamchybek Tashiev said it “provides a basis for resolving all border issues”. Kyrgyz and Tajik leaders 13 Oct met for further discussions on sidelines of CIS summit.

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