In March 2014, as Russia’s “little green men” were quietly seizing the Crimean peninsula, a well known liberal activist from Kyrgyzstan, Ilya Lukash, left his homeland for Ukraine. He was fleeing harassment and threats of violence after Kyrgyz nationalists publicly pilloried him as a “gay activist” and burnt his portrait during an anti-Western protest. My recent article for the Atlantic Council looks at Lukash’s story in the context of the changing politics of the post-Soviet region and the Ukraine crisis’ influence on Kyrgyzstan:
Caught between fighting for his beliefs and Russia’s deteriorating ties with the West, Lukash chose to support Ukraine—the land of his ancestors—as it struggles for a European, democratic future. Meanwhile, his native Kyrgyzstan has been moving closer to Moscow, and the Ukraine crisis seemed to confirm the government’s growing alignment with the Kremlin. Lukash didn’t know it, but he was on a collision course with his country’s changing politics.
Now exiled in Kyiv, Lukash follows events back home with concern and said he still considers himself “a Kyrgyz patriot.”
Check out the full article at the Atlantic Council.