The rape of a two-year-old Bishkek boy earlier in January is fueling a nationwide debate: should Kyrgyzstan reintroduce capital punishment for such heinous crimes? While passions rage in parliament and the media, rights activists say Kyrgyzstan’s corrupt and unaccountable courts should not be trusted on matters of life and death.
Persistent institutional chaos is undermining public confidence in Kyrgyzstan’s parliamentary republic as the country enters a new political cycle.
Observers fear parliamentary elections this November could destabilize and further fracture Kyrgyzstan, as officials – including the secretive coterie surrounding President Almazbek Atambayev – scramble to accumulate power.
The Kyrgyz government’s penchant for trying to revise deals with foreign investors stands to have a big financial backlash. An assortment of angry investors anticipates winning damage awards totaling almost $1 billion in international arbitration.
When Olga Ladanova moved to Damascus 10 years ago to marry a Syrian citizen and start a family, she held on to her Kyrgyz citizenship. These days, her family credits her passport with saving their lives.
Two years ago, Steve Presnal’s dream came true when he embarked on a hunt for Siberian ibex in Kyrgyzstan’s Tian Shan Mountains. With two friends, the 49-year-old from the US state of Wisconsin had booked a trip through an international agent who set them up with a Karakol-based hunting guide. But that guide got the three arrested.
Relative to other Central Asian states, Kyrgyzstan has a fairly free and perennially noisy domestic media scene. Even so, Kyrgyz outlets tend to be no match for Russian state-controlled media when it comes to establishing narratives for current events.
Russia’s state-run oil giant Rosneft wants to purchase a majority stake in the state-controlled company that owns all of Kyrgyzstan’s civilian airports. The negotiations are stoking concern in some circles in Bishkek about the potential risk to Kyrgyzstan’s sovereignty. But with its entrenched corruption, poor governance and remote location, the Central Asian country has few other options.