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Democracy in Kyrgyzstan: evidence from last two presidents


This year, Kyrgyzstan will celebrate its 29th anniversary of independence. Over the years, the country has experienced a lot and currently is the only democratic country in the region and one of the few democracies among the former republics in the post-Soviet space. A clear example of the establishment of democracy in the country is more frequent change of power, the last of which occurred on November 24, 2017, and Sooronbay Jeenbekov was elected as the new head of the country. He replaced his predecessor Almazbek Atambayev, who ruled the country for 6 years, starting in 2011, and called the current president a good choice for the country after the elections.

All these years, since 1991, Kyrgyzstan has fought to build democracy in the country. As a result of the neglect of a kind of agreement between the state and the people – the Constitution – two revolutions occurred in the country. In both cases, the reason of discontent of the people of Kyrgyzstan was the usurpation of powers, family clan rule in the country, as a result, the people were impoverished, the country’s economy fell into decay. However, after the revolution of 2010, when the Provisional Government headed by Roza Otunbayeva, who replaced the Bakiyev regime, transferred power to Almazbek Atambayev in 2011 after the general election of the president, Kyrgyzstan was able to see the first peaceful transfer of power. Atambayev headed Kyrgyzstan during 6 years, and at the end of 2017 transferred power to his successor Sooronbay Jeenbekov.

Protection of Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic

The situation in the country has changed dramatically after the elections in 2017 and all the achievements of recent years were overshadowed by the opposition of former president to the current president of the country. Almazbek Atambayev, due to the removal of his immunity by the country’s parliament in connection with accusations of corruption during his presidency, became a fierce oppositionist of Jeenbekov. Now Atambayev claims that the current head of the republic has chosen the wrong path and that he needs to be improved, otherwise the former president threatens with a change of power, he hinted about that on June 26. In one of his first interviews, Atambayev said that Jeenbekov’s role was to transfer power to the then Prime Minister of the country, Sapar Isakov, who was a close associate of former president, and now became involved in many criminal cases on corruption.

Many observers noticed that Atambayev planned to use the current president as a nominal person in the scheme for the continuation of his rule. And here we can see the first and most significant indicator of the democracy in a country, which is expressed in the protection of such democratic values as legality, political and social equality, freedom, the right to self-determination, human rights and other rights specified in the country’s Constitution. In addition, analysts claim that in his scheme, Almazbek Atambayev, when he was president of the Kyrgyz Republic, placed his people in key posts in the state through which he intended to rule after leaving.

Seeing all this, Sooronbay Jeenbekov, as a guarantor of the Constitution, defended the rights and obligations stipulated in the Main Law of the country, and made it clear that no one could count on anti-democratic steps in Kyrgyzstan and jeopardize the country’s security or threaten its constitutional structure. All the more, since 2005, the country has been fighting for the chosen way to build a democratic society, and also makes efforts to combat family and clan rule. And a return to these old ways will become not only a betrayal of the entire people of Kyrgyzstan, and heroes who sacrificed their lives for the country in 2005 and 2010 revolutions, but also trample all efforts aimed at developing the country in recent years.

Everyone is equal before the law

Nevertheless, Atambayev prefers not to reckon with the laws of the country, and openly declares that he does not intend to follow the letter of the law of the state. Here we can see another principle of democracy in Kyrgyzstan. The fact is that Atambayev, although he now has no presidential immunity, has barricaded himself in his house in Koi-Tash village in outskirts of Bishkek city, where he does not allow the authorities to enter, but he is violating another democratic principle – equality before the law, regardless of position or status. On the example of Western countries, we can see that the law is tough and does not have any indentation for any citizen of the country, that is, everyone is equal before the law and the rule of law is above the ranks and posts, but the former president prefers not to pay attention to it. Although when he was president, he had said that everyone should be equal before the law. It also remains unclear why he ignored the summons from the Ministry of Internal Affairs three times, where they wanted to question him as a witness in cases that were identified by a special deputy commission.

Freedom of action and freedom of expression

The third principle of democracy, which can be observed in Kyrgyzstan, is that the current authorities act in accordance with the law of the country and do not use any illegal means to bring the former president of the republic to justice. This is confirmed by the statement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs that the investigative service will do everything within the law. The authorities also operate within the framework of the law, without violating Atambayev’s constitutional rights to freedom of movement. An example of this is Atambayev’s unimpeded departure to Russia, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The latter, after meeting with the former president of the Kyrgyz Republic, said: My position is well known, and I conveyed my position to him (Atambayev), as well. All the people of Kyrgyzstan should be united now around the country’s current leader Sooronbay Jeenbekov and help him in the development of the state.

Freedom of speech

The latest, but not the last, principle of operation of democracy in the country is the statements of the former President of the Kyrgyz Republic Almazbek Atambayev. Over the past year and a half, in his speeches Atambayev often unflatteringly spoke about the current president of the country, sometimes he made personal attacks. However, no one tried to hold him accountable for his personal attacks. It should be pointed out that Almazbek Atambayev used such things in his time when he was the country’s president, and the amount of his claims reached several million soms. But the Constitution of Kyrgyzstan gives Atambayev the right to freedom of speech and he is not brought to account by the current authorities of the country.

These are just a few points that indicate the fact that democracy in Kyrgyzstan is developing and operating, but so far it takes time for everything to be straightened out. Moreover, even the developed Western countries, which are considered a reflection of true democracy, in their history themselves passed difficult paths that were not always smooth. But thanks to the adaptation of democracy to their own conditions and adherence to the rule of law, many countries of the world now live and develop for the benefit of society, and not in the interests of a group of people and one person.

Source: Kyrgyz National News Agency