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Kyrgyzstan Marks Independence Anniversary

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev speaks at Indepencence Day celebrations in Bishkek.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev speaks at Indepencence Day celebrations in Bishkek.

BISHKEK – Kyrgyzstan has been marking the 18th anniversary of its independence, while also receiving criticism for its failure to adhere to democratic standards, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.

At a ceremony in Bishkek’s Kyrgyz Philharmonic Society, President Kurmanbek Bakiev told the assembled crowd that the country had “big tasks” ahead of it.

“The most important of those tasks are to further develop our national heritage, preserve the diverse cultures, ensure private property rights, establish the rule of law, and to build a state governed by the rule of law,” he said.

Bakiev, inaugurated earlier this month to a second term, also said the nation had put its trust in him for another presidential term, and that this gave him additional energy for the work ahead.

Last month’s election, which gave Bakiev a landslide victory, was criticized by international monitors who registered violations including ballot stuffing and multiple voting.

In an interview with RFE/RL, a prominent lawmaker at the time of Kyrgyzstan’s independence criticized what he said were the latest setbacks to the country’s democracy.

Kazat Akmatov, who is also a well-known author, said Kyrgyzstan had now lost its claim to be an “island of democracy” in the region.

"Our country distanced itself from its title as an island of democracy. We have lost this title. We don't suit to the title now. Our election system has been severely corrupted,” Akmatov said.

Kyrgyzstan was the first former-Soviet Central Asian countries to declare its independence on August 31, 1991, shortly after the failure of a coup attempt by hard-liners in Moscow.