Who cares about Kyrgyzstan?

First impression answer: Nobody, unless you’re from one of the bordering countries.

Today: Most major international news organizations and Central Asian political figures

Me: My work does, therefore, so do I.

We rarely see Kyrgyzstan in the news, let alone know anything about the country. A CNN reporter asked an expert on TV, “So..why are there so many “stans?” to give you an idea. I will be the first to admit that I didn’t know the capitol of Kyrgyztan nor its president until I began doing research on press freedom in the country a few weeks ago. I was working on a story about how in recent months, the former government had been cracking down on independent media, closing many newspapers and shutting off the RFE/RL news programs in the country. The story was supposed to detail press suppression trends, the danger journalists in Kyrgyzstan face, and what press restriction means for the country. It was going to be great, but of course, as is the case with all news, the story doesn’t stop for you. This week, the government was ousted and replaced by an opposition party because of a 200% increase in utility charges, bad economic policy, and tightening restrictions on basic rights.

Still don’t care about Kyrgyzstan?

This could mean democracy is coming to an area of the world heavily concentrated with “religious” governments, oppressive social law and fanatical dictators. It could mean the press will be up and running freely in a country that was once silenced.

Or, this could be bad news for the United States and its efforts in Afghanistan. The U.S. has a military base in the country that serves as a main transit point for U.S. and NATO troops and supplies into Afghanistan. WIthout it, according to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell, the U.S. would have to rely on ground transport in unsettling territory on the Afghan/Pakistan borders. So far, it’s hard to tell whether or not the opposition government would allow the base to continue operation.

Read more about the Kyrgyz revolt and change of government at RFE’s Kyrgyz service. Not many news sites have pages dedicated solely to this country, but we do.


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