Kyrgyzstan now a country marked by “broader Central Asian trend of authoritarian consolidation”, says Freedom House report

By bne IntelliNews April 11, 2024

Kyrgyzstan is a country now marked by the “broader Central Asian trend of authoritarian consolidation”, according to the newly released Freedom House report Nations in Transit: A Region Reordered by Autocracy and Democracy.

The country, like big neighbour Kazakhstan, previously scored on the less repressive end of the authoritarian range, but “the regimes in these two countries worked to extinguish local autonomy and civil society activity, continuing a broader reduction in opportunities for public dissent”, according to the report.

Kyrgyzstan’s populist authoritarian Japarov regime is under fire from rights defenders for what are perceived as attempts by officials to dismantle much of the country’s NGO sector and independent media.

The report issued by the Washington DC-based watchdog also observed how “Russia, Tajikistan, Azerbaijan, and Kyrgyzstan's scores [in this Freedom House assessment] have dropped so far over the last 20 years that many of their scores have reached 1.00, the lowest possible.”

In another note on Kyrgyzstan, the report stated: “In Kyrgyzstan, Judicial Framework and Independence has dropped by 1.25 points in 20 years due to continued subjugation of the judiciary to the regime, including through politically driven constitutional changes.”

In a commentary on the key findings of the assessment, the report said: “Democratic governance in the Nations in Transit region declined for the 20th consecutive year in 2023. The continued assault on basic freedoms by Eurasian autocracies and the deterioration of democratic institutions in countries ranked as Hybrid Regimes—those with a mix of autocratic and democratic features—easily outweighed the modest gains by European democracies over the past year. Of the 29 countries covered in this report, 10 suffered declines in their Democracy Score, while just five earned improvements.  

“A geopolitical reordering is underway in the region stretching from Central Europe to Central Asia. Moscow’s ongoing attempt to destroy Ukraine and the Azerbaijani regime’s inhumane conquest of Nagorno-Karabakh demonstrated once again the deadly consequences of autocracy’s expansion. These and other events in recent years have accelerated a geopolitical reordering in the region, with countries sorting themselves into two opposing blocs: those committed to a liberal, democratic order and those that violently reject it.”

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