The Role of Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking in Kyrgyzstan’s Ethnic Crisis

Issue & Policy Briefs October 13, 2010, No. 39

On October 10, Kyrgyzstan held parliamentary elections. According to reports, the elections were surprisingly free and fair. Unfortunately, the problem of state criminalization remains. The new government will face a tough task when dealing with this problem. The conflict that erupted in June in southern Kyrgyzstan is generally seen as being driven by external factors, such as Islamic radicals exploiting socio-economic grievances and the extreme politicization of ethnicity and identity. Although these are important factors, the role of organized crime in the outbreak of ethnic conflict should not be overlooked. Behind the conflict lies the interplay between external and domestic factors as well as the link between regional/local organized crime and the corrupt family politics of former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

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