Thursday, July 05, 2007

Where Kulov Comes From

Erica Marat provides more on Feliks Kulov's sudden ideas about a confederation between Russia and Kyrgyzstan:
"Although many in Kyrgyzstan find Kulov’s idea absurd, most Kyrgyz citizens agree that today Russia is the country’s key strategic partner. Support for greater integration with Russia is noticeable across all generations and occupations. “The mentality is the same,” says a 35-year old Kyrgyz entrepreneur whose business is connected to China. Some believe that while the U.S. presence in Kyrgyzstan is temporary, links with Russia are historical and therefore more stable. 'Russia is the only force to prevent the total absorption of Kyrgyzstan by China in the future,' commented a university professor from Bishkek...

"Kulov chose such a pro-Russian line primarily to increase his own political standing. Along among the Central Asian states, Kyrgyz political officials seek power by subordinating their country to Russia rather than promoting national sovereignty. For example, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, both with strong Russian political and economic influence, maintain a fundamentally different approach toward Russia. While acknowledging the importance of links with Russia, the governments of both states emphasize their country’s ethnic identity and sovereignty.

"Kulov appeals to patriotic feelings to promote his idea. He suggests that Kyrgyzstan would solve its most pressing problems by joining Russia, including the north-south divide and economic underdevelopment. Kulov also brings in historical arguments of Kyrgyz-Russian 150-years of diplomatic relations. Other politicians used similar techniques to campaign against the World Bank’s Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative and to provoke public anger against the shooting of a Kyrgyz citizen by a U.S. airman in December 2006."



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