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

Mob attack in capital prompted hundreds of foreign students to leave Kyrgyzstan, concerns about free speech continued, and incident occurred at Kyrgyz-Tajik border. 

Mob attack in capital Bishkek triggered exodus of foreign students. Hundreds of Kyrgyz youths 17 May stormed hostel in Bishkek and attacked foreign students, including Pakistanis and Indians, following 12-13 May brawl in student dormitory between Kyrgyz youths and Pakistani nationals. Violence injured dozens, prompted hundreds of Pakistani students to leave Kyrgyzstan and triggered diplomatic tensions with Pakistan and India. Bishkek 22 May announced arrest of six Kyrgyz and four foreign citizens for suspected involvement in 12 May incident.

Watchdog condemned media censorship. Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders 3 May published its annual World Press Freedom Index, warning that media censorship has intensified “in a spectacular mimicry of Russian repressive method” in Kyrgyzstan, among other countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Meanwhile, Alamu district court 14 May sentenced journalist and govt critic Oljobai Shakir to five years in prison for inciting “mass unrest”.

Incident occurred at border with Tajikistan. State Committee for National Security 7 May said security forces fired warning shots at Tajik shepherds, who had crossed border into Batken region to graze their livestock and reportedly thrown stones at military; Kyrgyz and Tajik border services next day issued statement saying sides had organised meeting in Batken to discuss ways to prevent further such incidents. 

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