National issue to complicate pre-election race in Kyrgyzstan

Azerbaijan, Baku, July 14 / Trend V. Zhavoronkova /

The national issue will complicate the pre-election race for the representatives of non-titular nations of Kyrgyzstan, the U.S. expert on Central Asia Bruce Pannier said.

Kyrgyzstan prepares for the upcoming presidential elections, scheduled for Oct. 30. These will be the first presidential elections after the change of power in the country in April last year and the system's turnover from a presidential to parliamentary government. The candidate names for the presidency are already known.

An expert said that the national situation in the country may have negative impacts on the presidential race.

It seems the idea of "Kyrgyzstan for the Kyrgyz people" is going to impact the upcoming presidential elections significantly. It will make this election race very uncomfortable for the other peoples of Kyrgyzstan, the expert told Trend via e-mail.

The nationality question is presently a complicated issue in Kyrgyzstan. There are more than 80 ethnic groups living in Kyrgyzstan and, until recently, there were few problems between them. The new sense of nationalism in Kyrgyzstan, however, may change this dynamic and troubles many people inside and outside the country.

President Roza Otunbayeva and Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev have warned about such issues. Atambayev said it was probably the greatest threat to the country.

Kyrgyzstan needs tolerance. The residents of the country must not forget that the ethnic Kyrgyz population in Central Asia is much smaller than the size of other peoples, such as the Uzbeks and the Slavic people.

Kyrgyzstan and the Kyrgyz people are not in a good position to make enemies in the region, the expert said.

One can face phenomenon of renaming the objects in the Kyrgyz or translating their names to the Kyrgyz language.

The expert said that it is impossible to completely abandon the Russian language in the republic.

"The Russian language is necessary to Kyrgyzstan," the expert said. "It should be used in the education system."

Not at the expense of using, teaching, and developing the Kyrgyz language. The government is not financially equipped to translate all the necessary material for everything from medicine to military technology into Kyrgyz. But this will not be such a big issue.

The Russian government is anxious to keep its influence in Central Asia and promote the use of Russian. Language is a good way to keep former Soviet republics connected to Russia, without who's help Kyrgyzstan would have more problems than any government could deal with.

I think that anytime talks begin of dispensing with the Russian language, such discussions remain only talk, the expert said.

If it moves toward becoming a reality I'd expect Russian oil shipments to drop or stop, tariffs on Kyrgyz goods to go up, a suspension or drastic reduction in financial and other aid, etc. It would ruin the Kyrgyz government, the expert said.

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