Around the Bloc

by Nathan Hamm on 11/28/2004 · 2 comments

It has been previously noted that about the only states that have recognized Yanukovich as the winner of Ukraine’s election are former Soviet republics and China. The BBC reports on reactions in the former USSR.

The presidents of three Central Asian countries also added their voices.

“Your victory shows that the Ukrainian people have made a choice in favour of the unity of the nation, of democratic development and economic progress,” Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev wrote in a letter to Mr Yanukovych.

Uzbek President Islam Karimov sent his “sincere congratulations” to Mr Yanukovych.

The UzReport.com web site quoted Mr Karimov as saying he was “deeply convinced that the acting Ukrainian prime minister’s activity in the high post will serve to further strengthen the country’s independence and the prosperity of its people”.

Kyrgyz President Askar Askayev also sent a message to Mr Yanukovych expressing his satisfaction.

“On behalf of the Kyrgyz people, and from me personally, please accept congratulations on the occasion of your election to the high post of Ukrainian president,” the message said.

The state-controlled media in Turkmenistan have yet to report the outcome of the polls.

I think there is an element of anxiety that went into these quick reactions from Central Asia. Both Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have elections coming up, and have been on edge (and on warning) for the past year. Kazakhstan recently had an election, and the shakeout is worrying President Nazarbayev.

This isn’t to say that one should consider protests on the scale of those in Ukraine to be very likely in the wake of Uzbekistan’s parliamentary election or Kyrgyzstan’s presidential election. Uzbekistan’s stability though, is showing increasing cracks.

For more on elections in Central Asia , see CASCFEN.org.

UPDATE: While we’re on the topic…

Might we seen in Almaty and Astana in 2006 what we are now seeing in Kiev? Perhaps…

At a recent conference at New York’s Columbia University, opposition experts from Central Asia repeatedly noted that Kazakhstan’s opposition is organized better and enjoys more financial autonomy than movements elsewhere in the region.

And the movement now appears intent on gaining real political power.

Amirzhan Kossanov, chairman of the Executive Committee of the Republican National Party of Kazakhstan, tells RFE/RL that various Kazakh political movements are already in advanced stages of negotiations to select a unified opposition candidate to run in presidential elections scheduled for 2006.

“The self-sufficiency of the Kazakhstan opposition makes it a threat for the government. There are negotiations right before the presidential elections about a unified opposition candidate. The Kazakhstan regime is confused because it knows it’s not popular among the people. They realize that free and just elections are a death sentence for them,” Kossanov says.

As in much of the rest of the former USSR, many Kazakh opposition leaders are wealthy and/or former government ministers. Angels? Not by any stretch of the imagination. They do, however, offer some degree of improvement over Nazarbayev (who, to be quite honest, is an excellent leader compared to most of his neighbors).

The article does note that the Kazakstan isn’t a prime candidate for mass protests. I am inclined to agree, but these things are hard to predict.

Meanwhile, the Almaty headquarters of President Nazarbayev’s Otan Party was hit by two explosions< /a> from causes unknown. (Al-Jazeera says it was bombed, but runs the exact same Reuters story.)


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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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