Kyrgyz news agency 24.kg earlier this week began disclosing portions of an independent international inquiry into the ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan last summer.
On April 29, Russian daily Kommersant followed up with its own story based on a leaked copy of the report. This article repeats much of what came before, but makes a couple of notable departures.
According to the newspaper, the report explains that the interim government that took power after the April 7 unrest only controlled the north of the country. It was thus forced to rely on Uzbeks in the south to squeeze out supporters of ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, a process that culminated in the overtly political unrest in Jalal-Abad in the middle of May. Summarizing the report, Kommersant comments: "So the political confrontation between the new government and supporters of the ousted president turned into an ethnic conflict between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks."
It is this kind of finding that already has some up in arms, like parliamentarian Ismail Isakov. According to 24.kg's accounts of the leaked report, the international investigation criticizes Isakov, who was the interim government's special representative in southern Kyrgyzstan and took over security operations during the unrest, for failing to dispatch forces "with clear orders and rules of engagement."
Isakov has in turn slammed the report, stating, "The results of the investigation are beneficial to those who want the republic to descend into civil war." He also maintains that the investigation was "one-sided and served the interests of certain groups," which Kommersant takes to mean the Bakiyev clan.
The report's recommendations are another new area Kommersant explores. The paper says the Kyrgyzstan Inquiry Commission (KIC) will recommend restoring the country's name to the "Republic of Kyrgyzstan," instead of the current "Kyrgyz Republic," thereby better reflecting the country's multiethnic mix.
More contentiously, the KIC also reportedly suggests giving the Uzbek language a "special status" at municipal and regional levels in southern Kyrgyzstan. This might have once just caused discomfiture, but in the current climate of souring nationalist moods, it is a dangerous proposal.
The KIC has been headed by Finnish politician Kimmo Kiljunen and reportedly based its findings on interviews with more than 750 witnesses and analysis of around 700 documents and thousands of photos and pieces of video footage. Over 400 people died in the clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities. The majority of the causalities were Uzbeks, who also suffered heavily at the hands of arsonists and looters. According to 24.kg, the KIC notes that ethnic Kyrgyz also suffered significant losses of life, health and property.
Kiljunen has declined to speak with the media about the leaked reports, saying that he did not recognize the extracts put to him. He also says that the leaked report could not be relied upon, since the document was not yet complete.
Notably, however, the publication date appears to have been brought forward to next week, instead of the later date originally anticipated. This suggests a damage-limitation exercise is in play and that the inquiry realizes the drip-drip of leaks could foment unwanted public anger.