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

President Japarov signed law on foreign representatives, sparking international condemnation; UK’s FM visited Kyrgyzstan during regional tour.

Kyrgyz leader signed controversial “foreign representatives” bill. President Japarov 2 April signed “foreign representatives” bill into law, which many human rights organisations have warned mirrors Russia’s repressive legislation; law grants authorities oversight over non-profit and non-governmental organisations, and allows them to designate those that receive foreign funding and engage in “political activity” as “foreign representatives”. Move sparked outcry: notably, EU 2 April said legislation could have “a negative impact on Kyrgyz society and their cooperation with international partners”, while UN Commissioner for Human Rights 5 April said it poses “serious threat to the work of numerous civil society organisations in the country”. Media watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists 2 April said legislation threatens to erase country’s status as “relative haven of free speech and democracy in post-Soviet Central Asia”.

In important international developments. UK FM David Cameron 22 April embarked on five-day tour of region, beginning in Tajikistan before heading for Kyrgyzstan; trip sought to deepen diplomatic and economic ties in region, and to address concerns about circumvention of sanctions on Russia. Meanwhile, defence minister 26 April attended regional forum Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in Kazakhstan amid efforts to boost military cooperation.

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