Baisalov & The Kyrgyz Political Climate

by Nathan Hamm on 4/14/2006

The US Embassy has a statement on the attack against Baisalov.

The United States Government strongly condemns the April 12 attack on human rights activist and NGO leader Edil Baisalov. Our sympathy goes out to Mr. Baisalov and his family. On April 13, U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch visited Mr. Baisalov in the hospital to express her support.

This cowardly act was not only an assault on an individual, but also an assault on civil society and on the principle of freedom of speech. We view this attack as a serious escalation of the troubling political violence that has occurred in Kyrgyzstan over the past year. Kyrgyzstan is unique among its neighbors for its vibrant civil society, and it is to the government’s credit that civil society has been allowed to flourish. This attack is a stark reminder that civil society must be protected.

Mr. Baisalov is outspoken in his criticism of organized crime in Kyrgyzstan. We urge the Kyrgyz Government to take a stand on combating organized crime and upholding the rule of law. We further urge the Kyrgyz government to vigorously investigate this crime and provide security to Mr. Baisalov and others who may be at risk.

That comes via Alan Cordova who has a good post on the situation.

In any event, Kyrgyzstan is definitely backsliding, an indication, in my opinion, of the disconnect between people and the government – the latter can afford not to take the former seriously (as has been the case so far with the protests) and individuals do not perceive their stake in the government and try to avoid interacting with it at all costs. However, in order to expel the criminal plutocrats from power, people will need to be more engaged in political affairs so they can respond when politicians try to dupe them. As Edil Baisalov shows, the Kyrgyz people are not pushovers, and through grassroots political organization they can work towards a more transparent and representative government.

The Kyrgyz parliament is taking a large role in the investigation, and RFE/RL’s story reports that the city prosecutor has three working theories on the attack.

Bishkek city prosecutor Uchkun Karimov today said there are three working theories about what motivated the attack, one that it was connected to Baisalov’s political and public activities, another that it was “a hooligan assault with intent to rob,” and a third that it was “committed out of personal enmity toward the victim.”

Hmmm… Methinks that they left out a fourth possibility–that it was just totally random, something like a potentially deadly version of happy slapping. Seriously, they seem to have covered just about every other possible motive. I would certainly hope that they aren’t treating all three of the theories as equal and that they might consider that the first and the third could be one and the same.

Meanwhile, go visit The Golden Road to Samarqand for a post on university students’ attitudes on the political climate in Kyrgyzstan.


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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

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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