Kyrgyzstan. According to
Countryaah website, opposition leader Feliks Kulov was sentenced
in January by a military court to seven years in prison,
accused of falsification and abuse of power during a
previous term as minister. In a new trial in May, he was
indicted for embezzlement and sentenced to another 10 years
in prison. The punishment would be served in parallel and
thereafter Kulov would not be allowed to hold any government
office for three years. Kulov denied all charges.
When one of the opposition MPs was arrested by the
authorities, protests and hunger strikes erupted. A
hunger-striking human rights activist died in February,
leading to growing demonstrations and demands for President
Askar Akajev's departure. When Parliament approved a deal
signed by Akajev on land disputes to China, the protests
became violent. Five people were killed when police opened
fire on protesters in southern Kyrgyzstan in March. A few
months later, the government was forced to step down.
But turmoil continued and new Prime Minister Nikolaj
Tanaiev warned of civil war. Amnesty was issued to the
police who shot the protesters, which aroused the
opposition's anger and renewed the demands of the
president's resignation and Kulov's release. One of Akajev's
employees suffered a grenade attack in September. Large
security rallies met the continued protests during the fall
and many protesters were arrested. At the same time, violent
ethnic contradictions existed in southern Kyrgyzstan among
Kyrgyz, Tajik and Uzbek.
Support for the banned Muslim non-violent movement Hezb
ut-Tahrir seemed to increase during the year. Hezb ut-Tahrir
wants to establish a Muslim caliphate across Central Asia.
Atambayev's presidential term
Almazbek Atambayev took over as President of Kyrgyzstan
on December 11, 2011.
Temir Sarijev was Kyrgyzstan's prime minister from April
30, 2015. Sarijev filed his resignation on April 11, 2016,
following a controversy surrounding state funds used for
road repairs. On April 13, 2016, Sooronbaj Zjejenbekov took
over as prime minister.
Disagreement over referendum on constitutional amendments
held in Kyrgyzstan on December 11, 2016 led to strained
public relations between Atambayev and several former
members of the Interim Government. In 2017, the Atambayev
government cracked down on independent media through the
justice system. Security services GKNB arrested key
opposition politicians ahead of the 2017 presidential
On August 21, 2017, Zjejenbekov declared the Prime
Minister's post in connection with his announced candidacy
for the Kyrgyzstan presidential election.
The 2017 presidential election
During the Kyrgyzstan presidential election on October
15, 2017, former Prime Minister Sooronbaj Zjejenbekov
received 54.22 percent of the vote. Challenger Omurbek
Babanov received 33.49 percent. Like Prime Minister Sapar
Iskaov, Sooronbaj Zjejenbekov is a relatively unknown
political figure in Kyrgyzstan. Both had President Almazbek
Atambayev's support. Challengers such as Omurbek Babanov,
Adakhan Madumarov and Temir Sarijev have argued that the use
of administrative resources, the purchase of votes and the
sword campaigns played an important role in the election.
OSCE observers partially confirmed this impression during a
press conference on October 16 in Bishkek.
Southern Kyrgyzstan is still characterized by political
instability. The situation at the border with Uzbekistan has
improved following increased communication between Kyrgyz
and Uzbek authorities. At the same time, relations with
neighboring Kazakhstan in the north deteriorated during
2017. This has led to problems for Kyrgyzstan travelers, who
depend on open borders.
Despite significant economic difficulties, Kyrgyzstan has
emerged as a leader in democratic reform in Central Asia, a
region characterized by authoritarian regimes.
Several international human rights organizations have
expressed concern over renewed pressure on freedom of
expression after President Atambayev initiated criminal
proceedings against three news agencies in 2016–2017.
Sooronbaj Zjejenbekov has won significant money claims in
the legal system against Kyrgyz news agencies and
Prime Minister Sapar Isakov resigned following a motion
of no confidence in Parliament on April 19, 2018 and was
taken into custody by the Security Police during the
corruption charges in June 2018. Mukhammedkalyj Abylgazijev
took office as new Prime Minister on April 20, 2018.