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Kyrgyzstan: referendum in a time of upheaval

Judith Beyer observes the run-up to Kyrgyzstan’s constitutional referendum from the vantage point of the countryside, away from the centres of violence. A Kyrgyz majority will ensure that Otunbaeva gets the result she wants, Beyer predicts. But this bodes badly for the future

Central Asia: the erupting volcano

The West turned a blind eye to the potential volatility of Central Asia because it was convenient, in Carlo Ungaro's view. Recent events in Kyrgyzstan show how dangerous this stance is. In adjacent areas of Afghanistan the discovery of mineral riches is likely further to complicate an already fraught situation.

The ethnicisation of violence in Southern Kyrgyzstan

Media talk of ‘ethnic conflict’ in Kyrgyzstan is misleading, in that it takes ethnicity to be causal. This does not describe the complex, messy process – political, economic, social and structural – whereby this crisis has become ethnicised. What matters now is to understand why and how this has occurred with such destructive speed

Kyrgyzstan: the absence of mercy

The humanitarian crisis in southern Kyrgyzstan fits all the requirements for international intervention. So why is it not happening, ask Natalia Leshchenko & David Hayes.

Kyrgyzstan failing, and an arc of crisis

The violent descent of parts of Kyrgyzstan into communal conflict since the overthrow of its president in April 2010 leaves a security vacuum whose dangerous effects could be felt across central Asia, says Vicken Cheterian. 

Why are Kyrgyzstan’s slum dwellers so angry?

If you want to understand what has motivated the uprising of Kyrgyzstan’s poor, you need look no further than the package of neo-liberal economic reforms imposed on the country by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organisation, comments Balihar Sanghera

Turkmenbashi is dead! Long live Turkmenbashi?

A recently published book about President Berdymukhamedov of Turkmenistan confirms that the cult of personality is alive and well in the republic. After 15 years of independence Maria Yanovskaya could be forgiven for being surprised at the book’s excessively rapturous tone… but she is not.

Georgia's Muddled Elections

Does President Saakashvili really deserve international plaudits for his party’s decisive victory in Georgia’s elections on 30 May 2010? What Jakub Parusinski saw himself, and heard from fellow election monitors, suggests that procedural violations and deliberate fraud were more widespread and organised than first appeared

Rector takes on Ukranian Security Services

On May 18, the Ukrainian Security Services paid a strange visit to Borys Gudziak, rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv. Their goal, it seems, was to ensure his students would not take to the streets to protest against the new President when he arrived in town the following day. Gudziak refused to co-operate and produced a following memorandum that has sent shockwaves through Ukraine.

Ukraine: the immobile state

The electoral defeat of the figureheads of the “orange revolution” of 2004 raises profound questions over Ukraine’s political future. A realistic assessment suggests that the views of both alarmists and optimists will be confounded, says Taras Kuzio.

Belarus gears up for election

Alyaksandr Lukashenka's support is waning — both domestically and from Russia — and he now looks the the most vulnerable he has done for years. Yet the opposition's failure to unite behind a single candidate still seems set to hand him victory in the upcoming presidential election.

Children in prison

The approach to juvenile lawbreakers in Russia and in England & Wales is more punitive than in other European countries. Why do we put young offenders behind bars?In this article Mary McAuley highlights some of the questions she has addressed in her new book ‘Children in Custody’.

Ukraine: port of Russian illusions

Slavic reconciliation with "little brother Ukraine" has sent Russia starry-eyed, writes Andrei Kolesnikov. While Putin-Medvedev think they have regained an empire, the reality is that Ukrainian leaders have simply learned to do pragmatism.

Russia-Ukraine: bridge building?

What was the upshot of the recent Kiev meeting between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents? Will the bridge between the two countries be built? Maria Starozhitskaya argues that, in spite of the agreements signed, rapprochement will be slowed down – and the bridge is not such a good idea anyway.

Kyrgyzstan and Georgia: two very different countries

In the run-up to municipal elections in Georgia, Ivan Sukhov points out that Tbilisi has a lot less in common with Bishkek than the Georgian opposition might like to think

Kickstarting the Kyrgyz economy

On 8 April 2010 Kyrgyzstan experienced its second revolution in five years. The corrupt regime of President Bakiev fell as citizens rebelled after government troops opened fire on protesters, killing more than 80 people and wounding 1500. The new interim government is now preparing elections.

Armenia deadlocked, landlocked

Despite President Obama’s best efforts on 12 April, negotiations between Armenia and Turkey remain deadlocked, leaving Armenia’s President Sargsyan facing the unequal struggle against problems political, economic, geographical and historical

Waiting for the word in Armenia

The WW1 massacre of more than a million Armenians by Ottoman Turks remains a source of great contention, writes Ara Iskanderian. While there has been some recent reconciliation between Armenia and Turkey on government level, use of the “g” word is still firmly off limits.

Rescuing Ukraine from NATO

President Yanukovich sees it as his mission to protect the country from NATO. That’s why he extended that lease allowing Russia’s fleet to stay in Crimea. For as long as the fleet stays in Ukraine, the country cannot join NATO

Georgian Overtures to Abkhazia and Tskhinvali

Georgia’s State Minister for Reintegration floats a proposition for building bridges with Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region

The Shape of Europe's Future

In today's Europe, unlike that of the Cold War, the 'Finlandization' of the post-Soviet space does serve the interests of the West, Ivan Krastev reflects, taking issue with Ronald Asmus' book A Little War that Shook the World

Russia's fleet in Crimea: what's the real deal?

President Yanukovich’s unexpected extension of the lease on Russia’s fleet in Crimea has Ukraine in an uproar. No one knows the full extent of that agreement. It was clearly not just about cheap Russian gas

Obama's plan for Iran and Chinese resistance

Iran's fate rests on US relations with an emerging Chinese-Russian axis

Central Asia - the smouldering volcano

As the recent popular violence in Kyrgyzstan reminded us, Central Asia is strategically vital. The West needs to work with Russia, and China, to put in place a programme of pre-emptive damage control

What's left of Orange Ukraine?

Though political infighting continues to hinder reform, Ukraine’s new president is equally unlikely to drop the European rhetoric and defer to Moscow, writes Mykola Riabchuk. For the time being at least, Ukraine's leadership will continue to "muddle through"

Breaking point: why the Kyrgyz lost their patience

Kyrgyzstan is suffering from a crisis of governance, reports Madeleine Reeves. But an analysis of the problems that limits itself to “state failure” is missing the point. What brought the Kyrgyz on to the streets was inequality and economic misery, muffled for years by the New Great Game.

Kyrgyzstan: what is to be done?

The ineptitude of policies championed by the USA is to blame for the political violence in Kyrgyzstan which overthrew the government. Only a long-term vision of radical political change could make amends. David Coombes lays out key priorities

Russia-Poland: a history too terrible

The plane crash at Smolensk which Poland’s president has provoked an outpouring of Russian sympathy, from Putin down. It has helped many Russians identify their country’s responsibility for the Katyn massacre in 1940. But it has left many others unmoved, even cynical. ‘Re-setting’ Russian-Polish relations is not going to be easy.

Could Abkhazia be smothered by its new best friend?

Seventeen years after civil war, Abkhazia is finally recovering under Russian protection. But many inside the country are unhappy, fearing association with their big brother will result in another loss of independence.

Ukraine's political merry-go-round

The new Ukrainian government has turned out to be a rather ugly bunch: coarse, corrupt, opaque and inexperienced from the President down. Not much different from the previous lot, then.

Tipping the board in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan’s ex-president Bakiev had not delivered on his promise to Russia to close the American airbase at Manas, Arkady Dubnov reminds us. But the Kremlin did not depose him. In Central Asia, Russia looks to other ways of tipping the board...

Kyrgyzstan: fractured, but not broken

Kyrgyzstan’s government has fallen, its provisional rulers are untested, and there is as yet no sign of a lasting political settlement. Yet that does not mean it will automatically follow the example of neighbour Tajikistan and descend into civil war, writes John Heathershaw

Central Asia: new security challenges

Kyrgyzstan’s violence underscores the instability of those former Soviet governments which are burdened by authoritarian and corrupt rule. To varying degrees, every Central Asian country faces serious threats at home and from the war in neighboring Afghanistan. They need help. The West and Russia should act, including by engaging the underutilized Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

Kyrgyzstan: what will happen to the tulips?

As another “colour revolution” is overthrown in Kyrgyzstan, Boris Dolgin reflects that it changed nothing. Will the country be able to sort out a more nuanced relationship with the USA, Russia and China?

Forums and flame wars in Georgia

During the war with Russia in 2008, Georgians turned to online media in a big way. But with Western funding declining, the future is less certain. While social networking has taken off, Georgians show signs of preferring face-to-face communication
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