Kyrgyzstan. According to COUNTRYAAH, Bishkek is the capital of Kyrgyzstan which is located in Central Asia. The country sharpened the hunt for radical Islamists during the year, after the government claimed that supporters of the Islamic State terrorist group (IS) had entered southern Kyrgyzstan. In February, suspected members of the banned Islamic group Hezb ut-Tahrir were arrested. Later, a woman was arrested accused of leading a female cell within Hizb ut-Tahrir. In July, six militant Islamists were reported to have been killed in Bishkek after police planned attacks in the capital and against a Russian air base. Seven people were also arrested.
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Authorities accused Hizb ut-Tahrir of being a tool for IS among other things when it came to radicalizing young people and recruiting them for combat. According to government data in April, over 330 people from Kyrgyzstan had joined IS in Syria and Iraq, and about 40 of them had died in fighting. Of those who returned, many had been arrested and some convicted of terror-related crimes.
According to the security service, it was mainly ethnic Uzbek from the Fergana Valley in the south who traveled to Syria for battle. Political analysts agreed, but warned against pointing out the uz cup in a way that heightens tensions in southern Kyrgyzstan.
An imam was sentenced during the year to five years in prison accused of supporting IS and instigating religious hatred. According to his defense, he had not supported IS but criticized the government.
President Almazbek Atambayev visited the EU in March and asked for European military support to fight the threat from IS. He recalled that IS had said it wanted to establish an Islamic caliphate in the Fergana Valley, and he emphasized that the Russian Federation helped Kyrgyzstan with weapons. The government claims to have received more than a thousand tonnes of military equipment from the Russian Federation. While the US lost its military base in Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation still has four bases, and the West fears that the country will become a Russian sound state.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on EU leaders to raise human rights with Atambayev. HRW demanded the release of imprisoned human rights defender Azimjon Askarov and a stop for human rights abuses in the country. HRW pointed to a bill with a ban on so-called gay propaganda and a law against so-called foreign agents that would affect, among other things, human rights organizations. The UN also warned of the law.
In April, Prime Minister Dzjoomart Otorbaev resigned without giving any reasons. New head of government became Temir Sarijev. The change came when the old conflict around the gold mine Kumtor had flared up again. There is a political dispute over whether the Canadian-owned mine should be nationalized.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon visited Kyrgyzstan in June and took part in a ceremony in Osh in the south to commemorate the victims of the ethnic violence between Kyrgyz and the Uzbek five years earlier, when more than 400 people were killed. He laid flowers at the monument Mothers Tears, which depicts an Uzbek and a Kyrgyz woman mourning together.
In June, Parliament approved with 90 votes against two the law that criminalizes so-called gay propaganda. According to the law, “propaganda for non-traditional sexual relations” can give one year in prison. Journalists can also be held accountable. The Russian Federation has a similar law.
In July, Kyrgyzstan formally concluded the 1993 agreement on military, economic and political cooperation with the United States. It happened in conjunction with a protest against the US giving a prestigious human rights award to imprisoned journalist and activist Azimjon Askarov, who is serving life imprisonment. Askarov, who is an ethnic Uzbek, led a group that investigated allegations of police brutality, but he was formally sentenced, among other things, for incitement to ethnic hatred during the fighting in Osh 2010.
In August, Kyrgyzstan formally became a full member of the Russian-led Euro-Asian Economic Union (EEA), following the abolition of customs controls at the border with Kazakhstan. The Union also includes the Russian Federation, Belarus and Armenia.
President Atambayev canceled a planned visit to the United States in September with reference to the upcoming elections in October, but he also made hints at the deteriorating relations with the United States. The opposition criticized Atambayev’s decision, saying it had come not to annoy Moscow, and warned against isolation from western support.
The parliamentary elections in October were won by Atambayev’s Social Democratic Party SDPK, which increased strongly and received just over 27% of the vote. The opposition party Republican-Fatherland returned sharply, staying at just over 20%. Instead, new parties entered the parliament, including the Kyrgyz Party with 13% and Onuguru Progress with just over 9%. Unit (Bir Bol) received just over 8%. SDPK’s coalition partner Fosterlandet (Ata Meken) declined to 7%.
According to international election observers from the OSCE, the election was unique in the region in its open contest between the parties, but some weaknesses were reported.
US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Kyrgyzstan in October, met President Atambayev and opened a new US embassy building in Bishkek and a newly built campus for America University of Central Asia. Kerry was urged by human rights groups to address Kyrgyzstan’s crimes, but he was also keen to show support for the regime, in the shadow of deteriorating relations.
After the Social Democratic election victory, President Atambayev instructed the SDPK to re-form government. Prime Minister Temir Sarjev in November presented a new coalition government with a broad majority, including the Social Democrats, the Kyrgyz Party, Onuguru and the Foster Country.