Erica Marat

Erica Marat, PhD, is an analyst and reporter at Voice of America’s Russian Service. The views expressed here do not represent those of Voice of America, the Russian Service, or the U.S. Government.

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Articles by Erica Marat

Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan Disagree on CASA-1000

Last month, energy ministers of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan signed a protocol on the construction of power lines within the CASA-1000 (Central Asia-South Asia) project (www.tazabek.kg, May 23). If

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan Forced Into Customs Union

On October 19, members of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) announced in St. Petersburg that both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are eligible to join the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan Customs Union (www.24.kg, October 19).Although

Tsentr-2011 Gambles On Central Asia’s Participation

Much criticized for its inability to meet regional challenges, the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is seeking to boost its image in Central Asia. The organization’s latest military drills

Kyrgyzstan Pleads For Russian Gas Supplies

The Kyrgyz Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev traveled to Moscow in a sudden rush to meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to discuss energy-giant Gazprom’s gas supplies to Kyrgyzstan. Atambayev’s

India Boosts Its Presence in Kyrgyzstan

New Delhi’s presence has suddenly expanded in Kyrgyzstan following Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony visit to Bishkek on July 4-5 to meet with his Kyrgyz counterpart, Abibilla Kudayberdiyev, to discuss

Kyrgyzstan’s Chaotic Foreign Policy

Since the April 7, 2010 regime change in Kyrgyzstan, experts have debated whether the country is leaning more toward Russia or the United States. President Roza Otunbayeva has met with

SCO’s Tipping Point in Central Asia

Ten years after its formation, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is overshadowing its regional Russian-led competitor the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). At the June 15 SCO summit in Astana,

Afghanistan: NATO Out, SCO In?

Next month, Afghanistan may gain observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The organization considers this to be an appropriate step forward given that the Afghan people “gradually take

Kyrgyzstan Joins Russian-backed Customs Union

Kyrgyzstan’s Prime Minister, Almazbek Atambayev, has announced that Kyrgyzstan will join the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan Customs Union. It is evident that this decision was political rather than based on economic priorities. Kyrgyzstan

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan Visits Bishkek

During his visit to Bishkek on February 2, Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, met with Kyrgyz President, Roza Otunbayeva, and the head of government, Almazbek Atambayev. The meeting yielded

Karimov’s Brussels Visit Full of Controversy

President Islam Karimov’s visit to Brussels has raised fresh criticism of the EU and NATO’s double standards vis-à-vis the Uzbek leader. The visit was full of ambiguity: both the EU

Putin Honored by the Kyrgyz Government

Despite the Russian government’s ongoing crackdown of opposition protests in Moscow and extending the politically-motivated prison term to former influential oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Kyrgyzstan has honored Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir

DoD Renews Contract on Manas

After months of deliberations, on November 3, the US Defense Department (DoD) renewed its collaboration with Mina Corp Ltd., which has supplied jet fuel to the US Transit Center Manas

Moscow Seeks Influence in the Kyrgyz Elections

As the Kyrgyz parliamentary elections near, Moscow’s attempts to influence the elections’ outcome is becoming more obvious. By using both its hard and soft power, the Russian leadership has been

Kyrgyz Officials Poised to Reject OSCE Forces

Kyrgyzstan’s top officials are against the deployment of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) 52-member Police Advisory Group. The OSCE can still “gracefully” cancel its decision to send

Opposition to OSCE Police Forces Grows in Kyrgyzstan

More Kyrgyz political activists are speaking out against the prospective deployment of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) 52-member Police Advisory Group. Infringement of the country’s sovereignty,

Russia Remains Ambiguous on Kyrgyzstan

Following the violence in southern Kyrgyzstan last month, Russia’s position vis-à-vis its southern neighbor seems indecisive, varying from supportive to obstructive. Shortly after the June 27 constitutional referendum Russian President,

Kyrgyzstan Referendum: Questions Remain

Kyrgyzstan’s June 27 referendum on the new constitution defied most skeptics’ expectations –it occurred amid relative calm across Kyrgyzstan and a large number of the ethnic Uzbek minority managed to

Bishkek’s Dependence on Russia and Kazakhstan Deepens

During the Collective Security Treaty Organization’s (CSTO) informal summit on May 7 in Moscow, member states – Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Belarus, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan – expressed concern over the ongoing

Astana Takes Credit for Stability in Kyrgyzstan

Astana has promised to open Kazakhstan’s border with Kyrgyzstan almost one month after the violent regime change in Bishkek. Astana remained reluctant to re-open the border despite numerous pleas from

Russia’s Role in Kyrgyzstan Change

Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, was the first foreign political official to recognize the legitimacy of Kyrgyzstan’s provisional government. In stark contrast to the US State Department’s awkward statements about

Central Asia’s Energy Wars

Since the winter energy crisis two years ago, when freezing temperatures lasted for several weeks, cooperation dynamics within Central Asia have witnessed rapid change. Upstream Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, which rely

China Seeks to Link Central Asia by Railroad

In the late 1990’s, the Chinese government opened official talks with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan on the construction of a railroad that would connect all three countries. The idea was born

Kyrgyzstan Relaxes Control Over Drug Trafficking

Last October, the Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev disbanded the Drug Control Agency (DCA) responsible for intercepting illicit drugs transiting through Kyrgyzstan from Afghanistan and destined to reach Russia and Europe.

Will Tajikistan Successfully Construct Rogun?

In his official address to Tajik citizens, President Emomali Rakhmon announced that 2010 will be the year “when great resources will be mobilized” to construct the 3,600 mw Rogun dam.

Kyrgyzstan Boosts Cooperation With China

This week a Kyrgyz government delegation, led by President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s son Maksim, visited Beijing to strengthen economic relations with China. At a meeting with Chen Jian, the Chinese Assistant

Uzbekistan Damages Regional Electricity Network

Uzbekistan recently officially announced that it will quit the Central Asia power system. Tashkent’s decision affects all countries in the region, with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan suffering the most. The recent

Russia to Open New Military Base in Kyrgyzstan

Reports that the Kremlin plans to open another Russian military base in Kyrgyzstan have appeared over the past week. A delegation of Russian officials led by Deputy Prime Minister Igor

Speculation Intensifies over the Future of Manas

The U.S. military has now started preparing to leave the Manas base in Bishkek as part of its anticipated eviction, according to Colonel Christopher Bence, the newly-appointed commander of the

Karimov Accuses Kyrgyzstan of Harboring Terrorists

Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov has blamed neighboring Kyrgyzstan for harboring the criminals that carried out shootings in Kharshi-Khanabad on May 26. The Kyrgyz government denied the allegations and increased security

BAKIYEV LOSES SUPPORTERS, APPOINTS CRONIES

With the resignation of Mayor General Ismail Isakov from the position of Security Council Secretary earlier this week, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev once again showed that he wants loyal politicians

KYRGYZ LOCAL ELECTIONS HELD AMID CONTROVERSY

On October 5 Kyrgyzstan held local government elections in which 491 seats were contested. The competition was most fierce, with the Chair of the Central Election Commission (CEC) Klara Kabilova

CSTO SUMMIT DISAPPOINTS MOSCOW, UNITES CENTRAL ASIA

At the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) summit in Moscow on September 5, Central Asian leaders once again avoided supporting Russia's recognition of South Ossetian and Abkhaz independence. As at

CAN NAZARBAYEV HELP KYRGYZSTAN ESCAPE MOSCOW’S PRESSURE?

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s reluctance to support Russia’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia’s independence at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Dushanbe last week has clearly damaged the

KYRGYZ NGOS REJECT GOVERNMENT’S CRITICISM

Following the Tulip Revolution on March 24, 2005, and amid continuous political instability in the country, Kyrgyz political leaders habitually accuse local non-government organizations for their dependence on foreign financing.

KYRGYZ NGOS REJECT GOVERNMENT’S CRITICISM

Following the Tulip Revolution on March 24, 2005, and amid continuous political instability in the country, Kyrgyz political leaders habitually accuse local non-government organizations for their dependence on foreign financing.

RELIGIOUS AUTHORITIES IN KYRGYZSTAN PLAY POLITICS

The question of the spread of Islamic fundamentalism occupies a substantial part of political discourse in Kyrgyzstan. A new bill on “Freedom of religious practices and religious organizations” in particular

EU STRATEGY IN CENTRAL ASIA: ONE YEAR LATER

A year after the German EU presidency introduced the Strategy for Central Asia from 2007 to 2013, the European Commission (EC) published a draft of its progress report. The report

KHOROG RESIDENTS PROTEST AGAINST CENTRAL GOVERNMENT

On June 18, residents of Tajikistan's Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) staged protests in Khorog, the oblast's administrative center. Some 300 people demanded that the government withdraw troops that were dispatched

CRACKDOWN IN TIBET WILL BOOST ROLE OF SCO

Although the international community has condemned Beijing’s crackdown against rioters in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, the Russian government was among the first to show its active support for the Chinese

KYRGYZ OPPOSITION FORMS SHADOW PARLIAMENT

After losing in Kyrgyzstan’s December 2007 parliamentary elections, 50 leaders from 18 political opposition parties formed an alternative, shadow parliament. President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s political party, Ak Zhol, which is amply

TURKMEN LEADER PLANS TO ADOPT NEW MILITARY DOCTRINE

On March 3 Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimukhamedov announced his decision to endorse the country’s second military doctrine. The revised doctrine will take into account Turkmenistan’s declared neutrality in order to

GAZPROM MIGHT BUY KYRGYZGAZ IN COMING MONTHS

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev recently announced his intention to privatize the last remaining state enterprises, including major hydropower facilities, Kyrgyzgaz, and Kyrgyz Telecom. All of these enterprises serve nation-wide needs

SAME OLD FACES DOMINATE NEW KYRGYZ GOVERNMENT

The new Kyrgyz government, formed following the December 16, 2007, parliamentary elections, is comprised mostly of old faces who survived the numerous reshuffling efforts of former president Askar Akayev, the

RIGGED ELECTIONS DRAW FIRE FROM KYRGYZ OPPOSITION

On Sunday, December 16, Kyrgyzstan held snap parliamentary elections, following the constitutional referendum of October 21. Twelve political parties competed for 90 seats, to be distributed on the basis of

BAISALOV FACES PROSECUTION AHEAD OF KYRGYZ ELECTIONS

Two major Kyrgyz opposition parties – Ata Meken and the Social-Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK) – have been experiencing extreme pressure from the government ahead of parliamentary elections on December

BAKIYEV SEEKS REMOVAL OF OPPONENTS BEFORE ELECTIONS

As the political campaign for Kyrgyzstan’s December 16 parliamentary elections intensifies, the Kyrgyz opposition is experiencing direct and indirect pressure from the government. Whereas Kyrgyz political parties show greater professionalism

COMPETITION INTENSIFIES AHEAD OF KYRGYZ PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS

Two weeks before Kyrgyzstan’s December 16 parliamentary elections, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev abruptly sacked Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev. Atambayev represents the moderate opposition in the government and his Social-Democratic party

KYRGYZ POLITICAL PARTIES SHOW RAPID DEVELOPMENT

Almost all of Kyrgyzstan’s political parties that registered for the parliamentary elections on December 16 have now identified their top five candidates. Each political party had to come up with

KYRGYZSTAN CONSTITUTIONAL REFERENDUM SET FOR OCTOBER 21

Two weeks ago Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev unveiled his draft constitution, which substantially increases his powers. Bakiyev’s constitutional project will be confirmed or rejected in the national referendum scheduled for

SCO SUMMIT FOCUSES ON ENERGY COOPERATION

On August 16, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) held its annual summit in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz capital. This was the largest event to date for both Bishkek and the SCO,

NEW STATE IDEOLOGY BOUND TO FAIL IN KYRGYZSTAN

On July 30, Kyrgyz State Secretary Adakhan Madumarov officially presented his national ideological project called “Development through Unity.” Creating and spreading national ideologies in Kyrgyzstan has been the state secretary’s

TOKYO INVESTS IN STRONG TIES WITH BISHKEK

Japan was the first Asian country to get actively involved in the Central Asian region following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Besides opening embassies in all of the Central

BISHKEK NEUTRALIZES OPPONENTS WITH DIPLOMATIC APPOINTMENTS

Last month Kyrgyz opposition leader Melis Eshimkanov was nominated to become Kyrgyzstan’s ambassador to Switzerland. Eshimkanov is a member of the “For Reforms” parliamentary opposition bloc, which promotes long-term political

KAZAKH-KYRGYZ ECONOMIC RELATIONS RECEIVE NEW BOOST

On July 11 Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov and Kyrgyz Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev signed an agreement to establish a common investment fund that should increase economic assistance to Kyrgyzstan

KYRGYZ OFFICIALS, CITIZENS OPPOSE U.S. BASE

Following the May 21 visit to Bishkek by Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) General Secretary Nikolai Bordyuzha, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev ordered the government to form a special commission to

RAHMON PROMISES ECONOMIC PROSPERITY IN TAJIKISTAN

In his annual address to parliament on April 30, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon outlined prospects for Tajikistan’s economic growth through 2015 within the National Development Strategy. Rahmon enjoys majority support

OPPOSITION NOT CONVINCED BY BAKIYEV’S ABOUT-FACE

On March 21, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev agreed to yield to opposition demands after two major opposition blocs, “United Front” and “For Reforms,” announced their intentions to stage a demonstration

KYRGYZ OPPOSITION UNITES FOR DEMONSTRATIONS IN APRIL

Kyrgyzstan's two major opposition blocs, "For Reforms!" and "United Front," have announced plans to stage mass demonstrations against President Kurmanbek Bakiyev this April. For Reforms will demand a revision of

KYRGYZSTAN PREPARES TO HOLD SCO SUMMIT THIS SUMMER

This summer Kyrgyzstan plans to host the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s (SCO) annual summit and assume its presidency. SCO members include China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan; while India, Iran,

KULOV DETERMINED TO UNDERMINE BAKIYEV’S GOVERNMENT

As the second anniversary of Kyrgyzstan’s March 24, 2005, Tulip Revolution approaches, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev is facing a growing challenge from the “United Front,” a newly emerged opposition bloc

WITH KULOV GONE, BAKIYEV DUMPS HIPC INITIATIVE

On February 20 the Kyrgyz government unanimously rejected participation in the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, founded by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in 1996. This

MOSCOW CONDEMNS HIPC INITIATIVE IN KYRGYZSTAN

The possibility of Kyrgyzstan joining the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative has sparked heated debates among state institutions and civil society groups. Recently,

BAKIYEV MANEUVERS TO STAY ON TOP IN KYRGYZSTAN

Last week Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev named former prime minister Felix Kulov to head the government again. This reappointment followed the Kyrgyz government’s resignation and the adoption of another new

KYRGYZ LAW ENFORCEMENT CRACKS DOWN ON HIZB-UT-TAHRIR

During the past week several individuals were detained by Kyrgyz law-enforcement agencies for distributing religious-ideological leaflets. According to recent reports, the number of detained people linked to radical group Hizb-ut-Tahrir

BAKIYEV RELIES ON RUSSIA IN DOMESTIC AFFAIRS

Kyrgyzstan’s relations with Russia have noticeably intensified after the March 24, 2005, Tulip Revolution. Today, bilateral ties are at the peak of cooperation, with Kyrgyzstan and Russia collaborating in the

KYRGYZ POLITICIANS BEGIN TO BREAK TIES TO CRIMINAL WORLD

Organized criminal groups in Kyrgyzstan have significantly weakened since the death of criminal kingpin Rysbek Akmatbayev on May 10. According to Deputy Minister of Interior Omurbek Suvanaliyev, today Kyrgyz law-enforcement

LEADING KYRGYZ ACTIVIST ATTACKED

Prominent Kyrgyz civil-society activist Edil Baisalov was attacked near his office in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, on April 12. Baisalov has been an outspoken critic of the dangerous fusion

BAKIYEV FACES STRONG, MATURING OPPOSITION IN KYRGYZSTAN

One year after Kyrgyzstan's March 24 Tulip Revolution Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev faces outspoken criticism of his regime from both political and non-governmental sources. Although the current political situation in

IS BAKIYEV LOSING LEGITIMACY?

Almost ten months after the March 24 Tulip Revolution, Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev is losing public support due to continuing political assassinations, increased open challenges to the government by criminal

KYRGYZ JOURNALISTS CLAIM GOVERNMENT SUPPRESSES FREE SPEECH

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has announced that his government would restructure control over a number of state-controlled media outlets to encourage greater public participation. However, due to previous unsuccessful attempts

CLANS, CRIME, AND POWER IN KYRGYZSTAN

Despite their assassinations in recent months, Jyrgalbek Surabaldiyev, Bayaman Erkinbayev, and Tynychbek Akmatbayev remain influential in Kyrgyz politics. Now the slain parliamentarians' closest family members are struggling for power. Surabaldiyev's

AS BAKIYEV LOOSES SUPPORT, KULOV GAINS POPULARITY

A series of contradictory statements about international politics, delayed responses to domestic crises, and awkward jokes about his own political views have visibly harmed Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and his

BAKIYEV-KULOV POLITICAL UNION ENDANGERED BY CRIMINALS

October's showdowns between various political forces in Kyrgyzstan's government and parliament, as well as between criminals and businessmen, have challenged the credibility of the political union between President Kurmanbek Bakiyev

KARIMOV ACCUSES KYRGYZSTAN OF ASSISTING TERRORISTS

Tashkent's latest official explanation blames Kyrgyzstan for the bloody Andijan riots on May 13. At a parliamentary meeting on September 5, the Uzbek Prosecutor-General accused the Kyrgyz government of allowing

TENSIONS RISING AHEAD OF KYRGYZ PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

June 17 marked the peak of Kyrgyzstan's counter-revolutionary movement, which is apparently organized by Urmat Baryktabasov, a politician allied with ex-president Askar Akayev. The three months since Akayev's ouster in

OSH STILL TENSE, BUT SITUATION BECOMING CLEARER

After the June 13 civilian clashes in Osh between hundreds of parliamentarian Bayaman Erkinbayev's opponents and supporters, in which seven people were hospitalized, the city has apparently divided into two

KYRGYZSTAN ADOPTS GEORGIAN MODEL TO FIGHT CORRUPTION

The Kyrgyz government is determined to investigate, prosecute, and eliminate corruption in the state. Deputy Prime Minister Daniyar Usenov recently announced that more associates of former president Askar Akayev would

KYRGYZSTAN’S NORTH-SOUTH AXIS SHIFTS AHEAD OF ELECTIONS

Worries about Kyrgyzstan's north-south divide have increased following Felix Kulov's April 25 announcement of his intention to run for the presidency. Although there are ten potential presidential candidates, acting president

EXTENT OF AKAYEV REGIME CORRUPTION BECOMING CLEARER

Representatives from Kyrgyzstan's interim government and mass media are gradually revealing the content of former president Askar Akayev's secret diaries, which were found after the capture of the Kyrgyz White

KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT STRIPS AKAYEV OF PRIVILEGES

During his presidency, Kyrgyz leader Askar Akayev had secured guarantees of immunity for himself and members of his family by means of two referenda. Akayev officially resigned on April 3,

CROWD SEIZES GOVERNMENT OFFICES IN BISHKEK

This morning, 15,000 to 20,000 people gathered in Bishkek's central square demanding President Askar Akayev's resignation. The protesters then stormed the government headquarters. There are reports of severe fights between