The current tensions in Kyrgyzstan can be traced back to the legacy of Soviet rule in Central Asia. In the early 1920’s, Moscow attempted to fortify its centralized power in the region by curbing potential ethnic nationalist movements. To achieve this objective, the Soviet regime delineated borders across ethnic lines, thus creating ethnic enclaves throughout the region (particularly evident in the Ferghana Valley). To fuel the Soviet Union’s centralized economy, economic and transportation links between the republics became highly interdependent. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, however, the region became faced with innumerable social, political and economic obstacles. The crises that ensued culminated to create the Osh uprising in 1990 between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz inhabitants living in southern Kyrgyzstan. The Osh confrontation has been sited by some as laying the foundation for lingering tensions in the Ferghana Valley. Despite the fact that Kyrgyzstan implemented some of the most liberal economic and political reforms in Central Asia after its independence, the state that was once referred to as the “Island of Democracy”, is now characterized by persistent poverty, unemployment, political repression, and inter-state tensions over borders, security, and resources.

Kyrgyzstan: A Risk Assessment Brief