Kyrgyzstan: Revolution Revisited
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Valery Vishnevsky,
Slavic Foundation,

"Nothing has changed [since the revolution] for inter-ethnic relations. Things are like they were . . . It is not very pleasant for us that some people doubt that the Russian language should keep its status [as an official language] at the constitutional level . . . It is probably the politicians -- in quotation marks - who are starting to raise this issue about Uzbek being an official language. I respect our compatriots and I have a lot of Uzbek friends, but I have not heard what their motivation is for this, what principle they used to initiate this.

As for the government, we're are not sitting with our hands down . . . we should define the status of the Assembly of the People of Kyrgyzstan [an association of different minority ethnic groups' organizations]. [At present] the Assembly is a declarative body and we speak up, we put forward demands, but at the legislative level, nowhere is it established that we have concrete rights. For example, right now, we're trying to reform the constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic. . . . in the Soviet Union, there was the Council of Nationalities, and the Council of Nationalities could put forward its ideas and take part in making a decision about legislation. If the Council of Nationalities disagreed [with proposed legislation], it had the right to respond.

Today, in the Republic, we don't have such an instrument. We don't have such a bicameral system in parliament. . . . [We should] create a Council of Nationalities out of five to 10 people. . . And this Council would have the right to review legislation. That's one option.

Or, as a second option, we could give the Assembly the status of a consultative body, under parliament, and give it certain powers. For example, for the law that is being passed about the state or official language, there would be an opportunity for ethnic minorities to consider this issue. But, unfortunately, this is not done. That's why the constitution is a declarative document in which they say that there is no division based on ethnicity and other characteristics, [B]ut in reality, there is a [different] situation."

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