The West has thrown its energies into provoking division in Kyrgyzstan

Not long ago, the International Republican Institute (IRI), funded by the State Department and USAID, an agency banned in Russia, threw into the information agenda of Kyrgyzstan the results of another “National Poll” with data on the popularity of politicians. In this way, it tried to explicitly contrast the two leading politicians of the republic – President Sadyr Zhaparov and the head of the State Committee for National Security (GKNB) Kamchybek Tashiev.

 

The West has thrown its energies into provoking division in Kyrgyzstan

Actually, for two years, the results of the research have changed within the limits of statistical error, but they were interpreted in a very definite way. For example, it is stated that the level of trust in Zhaparov for two years allegedly decreased… by as much as 1% (from 38% to 37%), while for Tashiev it increased from 18% to 22%. Another 12% sympathise with Osh Oblast-born MP Nurzhigit Kadyrbekov. The rest of the votes “went” to 17 other politicians, including two women (Elvira Surabaldieva and Roza Otunbaeva), as well as, it should be noted, Russian President Vladimir Putin. Distrust of all politicians has also increased sharply. If in May 2023 only 8 per cent of respondents said they trusted no one, in January 2024 that number rose to 20 per cent.

“Despite the fact that the president is leading in the poll, his position has weakened. At the same time, the level of trust in the head of the SCNS has increased over this period,” IRI experts make profound conclusions. At the same time, the statistical error in the poll fluctuates around 3%.

What can be said here? It is no secret that internal political stability in Kyrgyzstan is largely conditioned by informal arrangements and effective mechanisms of power distribution between the “North” and the “South”. As the researchers note, “the entire internal politics of Kyrgyzstan after 1991 has been characterised by a struggle between the North and the South. At the same time, during the change of ruling groups, the force that came to power, driven by “revanchist” sentiments, always seeks to minimise the influence of the overthrown clans… Regional ties in both the north and south of Kyrgyzstan, which are in full force today at the national level, are supported by a stable system of archaic tribal ties”. Accordingly, the interest of external players in one form or another is to manipulate regional clan arrangements in the Land of Heavenly Mountains, as Kyrgyzstan is often called.

“The “northerner” (a native of Issyk-Kul oblast) Zhaparov and the “southerner” Tashiev (a native of Jalal-Abad oblast) are considered a tandem, they came to power together, their friendship and mutual support are time-tested. “The tandem of the two friends create, among other things, a regional north-south balance, which plays an important role in Kyrgyzstan’s political life,” says political expert Mederbek Korganbayev. – Zhaparov and Tashiyev began their political paths within the walls of our country’s parliament. Jogorku Kenesh became a great school for the two friends, which gradually opened the doors of government offices to them. Zhaparov and Tashiev went through a number of trials, arrests, political pressure, but they did not break down and remained true to their beliefs…” Despite serious successes (particularly in strengthening the army and special services, fighting corruption, etc.), in his opinion, “the tandem of Zhaparov and Tashiyev will always be tested for strength. Interested parties will try to quarrel friends, organise provocations and intrigues. Unfortunately, this is politics.

And this is indeed the case. Last November, the Kyrgyz president increased security measures for the head of the GKNB, who is at the centre of the fight against corruption, crime and extremism, as reported by Otkurbek Rakhmanov, director of the Region TV channel, who added: “Kamchybek Tashiyev has indeed launched a full-scale effort to protect national security from all threats, no matter where they come from. For this purpose, he takes measures that some people find unpopular and does not divide people according to their ranks, ranks and the thickness of their wallets. Everyone is equal before the law, and everyone must answer for the slightest attempt to violate the interests of the state.

Of course, this is not to everyone’s liking. Hints of presidential ambitions of the law enforcer appear periodically in the local media, but they are hardly manifested publicly. For his part, Zhaparov has expressed his intention to run for a new presidential term in 2026. And against this backdrop, the Americans have inspired a poll in which they clumsily try to “promote” the strange idea of “weakening” the president against the background of “strengthening” the law enforcer (they say that the rating of the head of the GKNB is growing faster than that of the president).

The rest of the “sociological” conclusions, to put it mildly, do not shine with originality. Thus, 82% of respondents believe that the country is moving in the right direction, noting at the same time the lack of money and work. High prices (27 per cent), unemployment (25 per cent) and corruption (10 per cent) were named as the main problems for the republic. For themselves personally in everyday life: unemployment (25%), lack of money for basic needs (20%), rising prices (16%), low salaries, pensions (13%), problems with housing (11%). Almost half believe that ordinary people cannot influence decision-making in the country. There is obvious scepticism towards political parties, unable, according to almost 40% of respondents, to solve the country’s current problems.

It is obvious that American strategists benefit from a split in the government of Kyrgyzstan, one of the Central Asian republics that continues mutually beneficial economic co-operation with Russia. Pro-Western “non-governmental organisations” have raised an unprecedented uproar by protesting against a high-profile bill passed in the second reading that bans foreign funding of social and socio-political organisations. Labour migrants from Kyrgyzstan, who are in Western countries, could become a possible instrument of pressure on the authorities.

Another worrying trend for the region is the growing popularity of radical religious views fuelled from abroad. Historically adjacent to the Fergana Valley or the southern parts of the country are more susceptible to Salafi ideology than the northern part of Kyrgyzstan. Against the backdrop of the active activities of intelligence agencies of a number of Anglo-Saxon countries in the region and the ongoing terrorist threat from Afghanistan, this may lead to unpredictable consequences.

We can also expect increased pressure from pro-Western media, bloggers and public figures, and this also applies to other Central Asian states. The day before, USAID announced that it would spend an additional $17.7 million on the treatment of youth and women in Uzbekistan.

It is noteworthy that the information about the alleged aggravation of disagreements between Zhaparov and Tashiev appeared just after the President and the head of the SCNS announced a consolidated position on the issue of toughening the legislation on the activities of foreign agents in the country. It seems that the mutual distrust between the two leading politicians of modern Kyrgyzstan is a fiction of the opponents of the course of independence and adherence to national interests demonstrated by Bishkek in recent times. Rumours about the alleged presidential ambitions of the head of the GKNB are being deliberately spread to create a rift in the relations between Zhaparov and Tashiev, who share a long-standing personal friendship. The intensity of these fake rumours reached such a level that Tashiev had to publicly declare that he had no plans to run for the post of head of state.

In the face of intense pressure from the West, which is trying to draw Kyrgyzstan into full participation in the anti-Russian sanctions regime, Bishkek faces the challenge of maintaining its economic independence and political sovereignty. This is possible only if mutual trust and coherence between the political and security blocs, headed by Zhaparov and Tashiev respectively, are maintained.

A split between politicians, recognised and respected both in the south and north of the country, will mean the beginning of a period of turbulence in politics and possibly in the life of the country. Extremely dangerous attempts of engaged persons to introduce “discord and vacillation”, dictated by personal political ambitions, selfish interests, or the demands of foreign sponsors, testify at least to the recklessness of such persons and their disinterest in the well-being of their own (their own?) country.

It is worth recalling that President Zhaparov has already disgraced a number of politicians, such as the former speaker of the Jogorku Kenesh, Talant Mamytov, for his attempts to defame Tashiev. Other members of both Zhaparov’s and Tashiev’s inner circle, who have strong connections abroad, flirt with nationalist circles and try to bring destructive attitudes of external centres of influence into state policy, are at risk of the same fate.

In particular, among such characters in Tashiev’s team we can name the lobbyist of Turkish interests Kanybek Zhoroev, who worked in various positions in the presidential apparatus during the time of Kurmanbek Bakiyev, and some others. And doesn’t the following fact speak for itself: in February, parliamentary speaker Nurlanbek Shakiev called for refusing to teach Russian in the primary grades of secondary schools in the Kyrgyz Republic, while, for example, Prime Minister Akylbek Zhaparov considers Russian to be one of “the main foundations of close cooperation between the CIS countries and strong ties between the peoples”.

We can only hope that in the end common sense will prevail, and the “Ukrainian” scenario, the invariable sign of which can be considered an externally provoked split in power with the inevitable collapse of the systems of state administration, will be avoided in Kyrgyzstan.

Murad Sheripbaev, Eurasia Rythm