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10 Things You Need To Know About The Ethnic Unrest In Kyrgyzstan

A concrete block with a sign saying "Kyrgyz Zone" stands in a street in the city of Osh on June 13.
A concrete block with a sign saying "Kyrgyz Zone" stands in a street in the city of Osh on June 13.

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RFE/RL senior correspondent Bruce Pannier discusses the ancient history and complex demographics that lie behind the ethnic violence being witnessed in southern Kyrgyzstan. More than 100 people have been killed and some 1,700 wounded in riots and ethnic clashes that began in southern areas four days ago.

What is the ethnic makeup of the Ferghana Valley, where all the violence has been occurring
?

Since the Ferghana Valley is divided up between Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, naturally you have a lot of Tajiks, Kyrgyz, and Uzbeks living there. But because it's one of the cradles of civilization in Central Asia, you would also expect to find any of the Central Asian peoples represented there, as well as Meskhetian Turks and Arabs. There are Uyghurs from the other side of the border that have been living in Central Asia for a long time now. There are Afghans living there. There's a big Slavic population, because a lot of Russians, Ukrainians, and so forth settled there during Soviet times. Kyrgyzstan boasts that it has over 80 distinct ethnic groups in the country, and probably every single one of those is represented in the Ferghana Valley.

Bruce Pannier
How are the effects of the Soviet Union's demarcation of the region still being felt today?


That's probably the biggest contributor to the problems today because traditionally the Central Asians were divided between sedentary (Uzbeks) and nomadic (Kyrgyz) peoples. That changed a little over the course of time, and there were two khanates and an emirate that would have included representatives of all the peoples, but no one would have recognized themselves as being Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Kazakh, or Tajik. They would more have identified themselves as being from Kokand Khanate or the Emirate of Bukhara, or something.

So, when the Soviet mapmakers came along between 1917 and the mid-1930s and redrew all the maps, they really had no meaning. But since the fall of the Soviet Union, those lines they drew on maps 80 years ago have suddenly taken on great significance. And people really do recognize that there is a border of a Kyrgyzstan, of an Uzbekistan, whereas until 1991 or '92 that had almost no meaning at all. And traditionally the people -- and by traditionally I mean hundreds and thousands of years -- would have just wandered freely from one place to another without recognizing any borders or without there having ever been any borders there.

What led to the outbreak of interethnic violence in 1990, and how was that crisis resolved?

The interethnic violence in 1990 was started over a water dispute. A group of Uzbeks settled on a patch of land that had water running through it -- the Ferghana Valley is also the breadbasket of Central Asia, it's the agricultural area that really feeds almost the whole population of greater Central Asia. That situation erupted. Some Kyrgyz felt that the land that was given to the Uzbeks wasn't fairly given to them.

This land dispute developed into a much wider conflict that pitted Kyrgyz and Uzbeks against each other, similar to what we are seeing today. To give you an idea of what it would take to stop this current unrest -- at the time both those countries were part of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Army had to pour thousands of troops in. Remember, many Soviet soldiers were based right in that area at the time. But it took thousands of troops a week to get the unrest under control and to restore any sense of stability. Of course, there aren't that many troops in the area any more.

Protesters attack a riot policeman during clashes in Bishkek on April 7.
Last week's outbreak of violence follows closely on the unrest that led to the ouster of President Kurmanbek Bakiev and his replacement with an interim government. How can we explain the evolution of that unrest?


It would be worth it to look at the 1990 violence for a second. There has been a lot of reconciliation between the Uzbek and Kyrgyz populations since 1990, but that isn't going so far as to say they put all their differences aside. This was always a tinderbox that was waiting to be lit up again. Did any pro-Bakiev people have a hand in what's going on right now? It's entirely possible, I suppose, under the philosophy that when you've got nothing, you've got nothing to lose.

If Bakiev wanted to cause problems for this current interim government, and possibly even see them fall, then the easiest way to create instability would be to get the Uzbek and the Kyrgyz communities in the south to start fighting with each other. Are the pro-Bakiev forces controlling what's happening now? Probably not, because the Uzbek and Kyrgyz communities always have some tension between them and it just wouldn't take so much to get that started. And there have been examples of a lot of Uzbeks lately who have said that during Bakiev's time -- Bakiev was from the south, of course -- that when he was president for five years he favored the ethnic Kyrgyz in the area to the disadvantage of the Uzbek community down there. So that was one of the reasons, supposedly, why the Uzbek community in the south was against Bakiev when we saw the events of April that ousted Bakiev from office.

What is the demographic situation like in southern Kyrgyzstan. Do locals intermingle, intermarry? Is one group perceived as enjoying a better economic situation?

During the Soviet days, the Central Asian peoples actually got along a lot better. They had, I suppose you can call it, a common enemy, but at least a common focal point for their complaints, which was, of course, Russia and Moscow. So people tended not to recognize so much that, "I'm Kyrgyz; you're Uzbek; he's Turkmen," as much as, "We're all Central Asians, and Moscow's taking advantage of us."

So there was a lot more harmony amongst the communities and some intermarriage and you can see that today on the streets in places like Osh, for instance. The older community, the people who would have been 40 years old by the time the Soviet Union collapsed, still get along. Kyrgyz and Uzbeks walk side by side, they have tea at the same chaikhanas, and they get along pretty well.

The younger generation, however -- and this is the under-30 people -- are much more likely to recognize their nationality -- that they are Kyrgyz, that they are Uzbek. And again, they do recognize the borders. And so there is a greater idea of distinctness among ethnic groups than there was before, and you probably see a lot fewer intermarriages, for instance. And straight across the board, socially, you would not expect as much crossover between the under-30 crowd as you would between the over-30 crowd. They don't mix quite as much.

At least some of the Uzbek members of the community would say that when Bakiev was in, some of the ethnic Kyrgyz in the south profited far more than the Uzbeks did and the ethnic Uzbeks were hoping for something better from the provisional government. It's only been two months -- a little more than that -- but some people may feel that they haven't seen a strong enough signal to indicate that the government really was going to take up their concerns. And now, of course, we have this unfortunate situation where there has been shooting; there've been Kyrgyz killed; there've been Uzbeks killed -- and any time something like that happens in Central Asia it sets off this huge rumor mill that magnifies the situation. It could be one dead -- Kyrgyz or Uzbek -- in one neighborhood and by the time that news gets all the way around town it's reported as 100 people being killed.

So, this is their greatest problem: to get rid of those rumors as quickly as possible and explain the facts to people and get the two sides away from each other right now.

Any chance of this spreading elsewhere in the country, specifically to the north which differs politically so much from the south, and possibly resulting in a civil war?

There's not much of a chance of it spreading north because there's no way to carry it north. The Uzbek population is small up there. For now, and for the foreseeable future, it will be confined to the south, and there are no signs that would indicate that an interethnic conflict in the south would split the country into north and south camps.

What does this mean for the planned June referendum?

I would be amazed if they were able to hold the referendum on time. I suppose looking at the bigger picture, this is a localized event -- pretty much Jalal-Abad, Osh, and the surrounding two cities. However, clearly they are not going to be able to hold the referendum in either of those places, and that's a huge segment of the population. And so they can't hold a legitimate election without those people being involved in it.

That being the case, I can't see how they can hold a national referendum in less than two weeks' time. They will be lucky if they have stability and order in places like Jalal-Abad and Osh by that time. But as far as it being stable enough for people to go out to polling booths and vote? It would be extremely difficult to imagine that they could get that done in time to hold this referendum.

Kyrgyz interim leader Roza Otunbaeva
What are the chances of intervention by Uzbekistan on behalf of ethnic Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan?


Of course, it is a possibility, and something you could not totally dismiss. I would tend to argue that's not going to be the case. It serves the Uzbek government better than any other government that the situation is what it is right now. They're the ones who are seen to be the good guys in this. They're accepting refugees from over the border – now it's their cultural kin, no doubt about it. As long as they could hold their peace and stay on their side of the border and accept refugees, it makes it look like Kyrgyzstan is the problem and Uzbekistan is part of the answer.

Uzbekistan certainly has the military forces. The big problem is, whose side are they going to be on? And I think the answer is pretty obvious to most people. If such troops did come in to restore order, what's the timetable for them to leave? There's plenty of precedent, certainly in Central Asia, for occupying troops to make the claim that they'll stay until it's stable, and it could be decades before they figure that everything is back to normal and they can withdraw troops.

From the Kyrgyz perspective, it would mark the disintegration of Kyrgyzstan if Uzbekistan came in and restored order in places like Osh and Jalal-Abad and stayed there. It would mean that Kyrgyzstan as a country was beginning to crumble.

Russia is the biggest regional power. Will they get involved?

If any country is going to get involved, it would definitely be Russia. And I would imagine that would be under the CIS Collective Security Treaty Organization – they wouldn't want to be seen to be going out on their own and doing it by themselves. But if they had the approval of some bigger group -- and remember that group does include Kyrgyzstan and neighbors like Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan -- then if they had such a mandate they might actually do it.

But the big problem is – and this is going to be true for anyone who is looking to help – you have to look at the lessons of 1990. In order to restore order in the area in a time like this, you have to be willing to commit thousands of soldiers who are going to be there probably weeks, maybe months. And you have a weak government in Bishkek. So it's unclear if that government is going to make it through the rest of the year. So exactly who are you defending? If the government that requested you to restore order is in danger of falling, or does fall, then where does that leave you with your troops on the ground? You could end up with a new government that does not want you there and perceives you as the enemy and an occupier on their territory.

So it's a complicated thing. I would not expect Russia or anyone is going to commit troops anytime soon.

A U.S. Air Force plane at the Manas transit center outside the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek
The United States has the Manas transit center in Kyrgyzstan to aid operations in Afghanistan. Is there any chance the United States would step in to help resolve the conflict?


I think the United States has shown during the last two so-called revolutions in Kyrgyzstan – the one in 2005 and the one that just happened in April – that they would rather take a wait-and-see approach. They have not come out strongly on the side of this provisional government; they did not come out so strongly on the side of Bakiev when he became president in 2005. Their interest is primarily in Manas for transporting goods to Afghanistan, and by taking one side or the other they risk the side they're on will lose, and if that happens, then they might lose the base.

And one of the reasons they've been able to keep the base is they've just kind of kept out of domestic affairs in Kyrgyzstan and just waited until the dust settled, generally speaking. Whatever government came into power was bound to leave the U.S. there because the U.S. pays rent for the base. Kyrgyzstan needs the money.
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by: yuliya from: kansas city, MO
June 14, 2010 17:11
I was born to a Russian/Armenian family in Azerbaijan back in the 1970s USSR. Russians, Azeris, Armenians and many other former USSR nationalities lived in peace in Baku (capital of Azebaijan) at the time. The USSR, of course, having been made up of many nations of varied ethnic, cultural and religious heritage, many of which existed for centuries before the USSR even came about. Many of these nations historically had strife among themselves based on religious or territorial reasons. While the USSR was in power, the common nationality was "Soviet" and such territorial issues never surfaced. Once the USSR fell apart it was "everyone for themselves" all over again. Azeris started kicking out and killing the Armenians and the Russians, the Russians started kicking out all people of the Caucasus regions. My family ended up in the USA for this reason. Azerbaijan kicked out all the Armenians (my family barely escaped the genocide that was taking place), and we tried living in Armenia, but it is a tiny country without resources to support such a huge influx of refugees. We tried living in Russia, but Russians developed a superior attitude to their Central Asian and Caucasian neighbors (even though I am half-Russian). The USA opened up their doors to Armenian refugees coming from Azerbaijan, and here we are, 16 years later.
Former republics wanted their land back that USSR had redistributed to neighbouring republics (for whatever reasons). Old historical conflicts started to arise. Strangely though, as this article mentions, it was not the older generation necessarily participating in this. It was the younger generation, who were seeking a new, or resurrected identity. Terrible situation and in many ways former Soviet citizens still living there wish the USSR had made the transition to democracy without breaking up.

by: Mehmet from: New Jersey, USA
June 14, 2010 17:11
I think this was an excellent piece explaining the root of the the conflict in the region. 200 years ago the entire region was referred to a "Turkistan." To even characterize the conflict as rooted in "ethnic tensions" seems absurd as Kirghiz and Uzbeks are both "ethnic Turks" with much of the same traditions and religious affiliations.

The national and ethnic identities in the region are designations rooted in tribal affiliation that were fostered by Czarist and Soviet Russia to further imperialist ambitions in order to quash a united front of potential resistance: the old adage of divide and conquer. Much like most of Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, the chaos in Kyrgyzstan is yet another example of the destructive blunders resulting from European border-drawing.
In Response

by: Paul from: NYC
June 18, 2010 00:59
Funny. It's the crazy, sick intolerence of other religions, tribes, linguic groups, ethnicities, what have you, which causes endless strife throughout the world, yet it's the "destructive blunders of European border-drawing" which is the problem. That warped outlook of the world and it's history is what causes so many problems: not facing truths, and assigning blame to others. Having said that, I'd be the last person to defend The Soviet Union, or Communism, but their melting pot theory did work within their imperalist territories, at least as far as cooling combat amongst differse groups (even if accomplished through terror).

by: Cheryl from: AZ
June 14, 2010 17:55
What might be the significance of the number 13 on the block?
In Response

by: tictoc
June 15, 2010 06:12
That isn't the number 13 written on the concrete block. What looks like the number 3 is the cyrillic alphabet version of the letter Z. Strange that they wrote the first part (Kyrgyz) in cyrillic and the last part (zone) in English.
In Response

by: Anonymous
June 15, 2010 07:19
it is not a "13", it is the second half of the russian/kyrgyz letter ы (=y) plus a з (=z), so the word is transliterated into "kyrgyz".
In Response

by: jim from: central asia
June 15, 2010 12:57
Hi, Cheryl. The phrase "Kyrgyz zone" is written on the block. What looks like the 13 on the block are actually the last two letters of the first word "Kyrgyz". Good question.
In Response

by: Jen from: USA
June 15, 2010 16:13
Cheryl-- The block doesn't say 13, it says Кыргыз. What you're seeing as "13" is actually 1 1/2 letters: the right half of ы (transliterated as y) and з (transliterated as z). To a person unfamiliar with Cyrillic, it probably looks like it says Kblprbl3.
In Response

by: rinyard from: Germany
June 15, 2010 16:48
that s no 13

the first word just says Kyrgyz in Russian letters, the second word is just English
In Response

by: Heather from: Monterrey, Mexico
June 15, 2010 18:05
Hi Cheryl,

It's not a 13, it's the Russian letter that is pronounced a little bit like the English y. K = K, "13" = Y, P = R, the gamma = G, "13" again = Y, "3" = Z. KYRGYZ.

I have no clue why the word "zone" is in English.

Best,

Heather
In Response

by: Heather from: Monterrey, Mexico
June 15, 2010 18:16
Hi again,

Please ignore that last comment...this is what happens when I am not looking at the picture.

The "13" is the end of one letter (the y) and the "3" is the letter Z. There is a vowel in the Russian alphabet that is pronounced like our y, but written like a 6 and 1 connected together. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%AB) I assume Kyrgyz has this letter, too, since they based their modern Cyrillic alphabet on the Russian alphabet.

So, the correct transliteration is:
K=K
"61" = Y
P = R
gamma = G
"61" = Y
"3" = Z
KYRGYZ

Best,

Heather
In Response

by: Fritz from: North carolina
June 15, 2010 18:23
In response to Cheryl's question: That isn't a "13" in the upper right corner of the concrete barricade. It is the cyrillic spelling of Kyrgyz = кыргыз.
In Response

by: Gyöngyi from: Hungary
June 15, 2010 20:35
Cheryl: they are not numbers but cyrillic letters, simlpy part of the word 'Kyrgyz'.
In Response

by: Catherine FItzpatrick from: New York
June 16, 2010 06:15
Good analysis on the role of both Russia and America. I find too often on newspaper comments and in the blogosphere, there's a superficial assumption that if there is an American base in this country, it will somehow be mixed up in the events there. That is a misleading assumption. There is the issue of whether the U.S. will pay the taxes on the fuel they are buying for Manas, of course, and related base issues that will help or hurt the interrim government. As for Russia, they have the levers to intervene more than anyone else, but you've aptly pointed out their multilateral constraints.

BTW, that isn't a "13". It's the Russian letters "y" and "z" at the end of the word "Kyrgyz". They just happen to look like the numbers 13.

Stalin's handprint clutching at the map, continuing to be felt to this day. Some of these enclaves make no sense (at least today), Sokh, with mainly Tajik residents, in what is surrounded by Uzbekistan. Any explanation for that?

When water or energy or other scarce resources are mentioned, and clashes over them, there is a tendency to think of scarcity as a conflict driver. But it's usually more about bad governance, lack of democratic participation in decisions about resources, lack of accountability and transparency, so it comes back to human rights again.

While I don't expect that Uzbekistan will intervene and send forces across the border in some major way, at least they claim they will not do that, I don't rule out that they might instigate some skirmishes here and there because they already have a long track record of doing that on their borders (see past RFE/RL and eurasianet.org reporting). Even so, you're right to point out they are trying to appear the heroes here.


In Response

by: Asel from: Christmas Island
June 19, 2010 21:26
Hey Cheryl, just in case you're still not sure, it doesn't actually say 13 on the block, you see the cyrillic letter Z looks very much like the number 3, and that lead to your confusion. It actually says KYRGYZ on the block.
Magical.

by: BS Buster
June 14, 2010 20:39
Excerpt:

During the Soviet days, the Central Asian peoples actually got along a lot better. They had, I suppose you can call it, a common enemy, but at least a common focal point for their complaints, which was, of course, Russia and Moscow. So people tended not to recognize so much that, "I'm Kyrgyz; you're Uzbek; he's Turkmen," as much as, "We're all Central Asians, and Moscow's taking advantage of us."


****

Crapola.

Among the more learned of experts on this issue, it's known that Central Asia was the least enthusiastic about the Soviet breakup. For all its faults, the Soviet period saw a good deal of development in the Central Asian portion of that country.

In Response

by: Elliot from: California
June 15, 2010 14:40
First, BS Buster, if you disagree, there are courteous ways of debating. I suspect that you feel secure in hiding behind a moniker and being offensive because it makes you feel strong. If you have something productive to say, say it with respect and use your name.

Second, I agree to a bit with what you say. But, the truth lies in between. It is true that Central Asia was the most upset by the breakup of the Soviet Union because they had so much to gain by this membership. But, at the same time, there was a contradictory glee in its dissolution which I saw first hand as well as data showing how ethnic Russians were forced out or fled as they no longer felt welcome or safe after 1991.
In Response

by: BS Buster
June 16, 2010 08:43
Like you're giving full disclosure yourself "Eliot."

It's not a crime to post under a moniker. Moreover, I'm less offensive than some of the babble thrown at me. I take it and dish it out. No need to get thin skinned, especially since I wasn't (at least to my knowledge) referring to you.

RFE/RL has at least page which links to La Russophobe, while not linking to some more competent sources.. I'm not into phony refs who don't call a fair game.

A main objection I've with the article pertains to the erroneous suggestion that before the USSR and Russia's entry into Central Asia, the peoples in that region were happy go lucky with each other.

In addition to Slavs (not just Russians), Jews have also been targets in some parts of post-Soviet Central Asia.

In Response

by: Elliot Scott from: California
June 16, 2010 15:08
Good point BS Buster... I failed to give my last name. I still stand by my initial statement.
In Response

by: BS Buster
June 16, 2010 20:22
"Stand" all you want on that point, as it gets you nowhere.
In Response

by: Asel from: Christmas Island
June 18, 2010 10:39
I think he gets it by now.

by: Tsuneo Akaha from: Monterey, California
June 14, 2010 21:15
I just returned from Bishkek. There are two points missing from the discussion in this article. First, pro-Bakiev elements in the south want the interim government under Otunbaeva to fall and the easiest way to achieve that goal would be to fuel an inter-ethnic conflict in the south to demonstrate the inability of the interim government to control the situation. Second, none of the countries neighboring with Kyrgyzstan wants the proposed constitution to be adopted because it would strengthen the power of the parliament vis-a-vis the president. If the constitution should stick in the country, the authoritarian regimes in the neighboring countries would fear similar attempts in their own countries. So, there are political forces in and around Kyrgyzstan that believe they would stand to benefit from the turmoil underway.
In Response

by: Jazgul from: Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
June 15, 2010 06:14
I fully agree with you, Tsuneo. Unfortunately Kyrgyzstan is facing too many not just internal threats but also external threats from regional and world powers' geopolitical games. Sigh.
In Response

by: Turgai Sangar
June 15, 2010 09:57
Tsuneo, I agree with your analysis reg. the Bakievtsy. The dogs eventually got what they planned.

I lived myself in Osh and Batken. I also wonder what the role of the Karimov regime is. Its intelligence service heavily infiltrated southern Kyrgyzstan for years (I saw that myself) and the regime is certainly keen to turn the Kyrgyzstani revolution of two months back even more nasty so as to legitimize the own regime (‘the strong hand or chaos’- line, with ethnic violence coming in most handy since they can't invoke a credible 'Islamist threat' any longer). There’s a precedent: the Kafirov regime had a hand in the escalation of the Tajik civil war in 1990 (support to the Lakaitsi and Khodoberdiev, Kofarnigan air raid, … ) that sunk a coalition experiment that might have ‘contaminated’ Uzbekistan.

For the rest, ethnic tensions did existed in the region but that should not automatically lead to pogroms. What is happening now is the work of death squads and has clearly been orchestrated.

Moreover, with the years-long suppression of Islam in southern Eurasia, primitive nationalism got the upper hand. Tragic.

In Response

by: Zhyldyz
June 15, 2010 15:19
Thanks so much for making this point! It is sort of really frustrating when so many journalists don't adress that this conflict to large extend if not only is politically dirven. There is a lag of almost 24 h in english media to give uptodate information. My main concern is that some readers will never follow up with further news on the topic - it means they will be stuck with wrong perception of the situation for maybe rest of their life.

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
June 15, 2010 03:40
Pro-Russian article to justify Russian taking over in Central Asia
And build again large force at Afghan border, when USA leave.
USSR borders are not the problem, if one approch it friendly.
Russia trying to change all borders, but not as peace entry
- Expand Russia. Moscow in USSR didn't help, Stalin did.

Konstantin.
In Response

by: you from: bishek
June 15, 2010 16:34
you are one hell of a muddled idiot

kon...

are you all right?

what you've written is STUPID, PLAIN STUPID

so you must be stupid too.
In Response

by: BS Buster
June 18, 2010 21:10
Best not to respond to.

by: Marat from: Bishkek
June 15, 2010 08:25
I'm from Kyrgyzstan and can testify that the ethnic nature of the conflict is a true claim. First, we need to separate the cause of the conflict from its pretext. The author is right that after the fall of the Soviet Union the bordering issues were biggest and still affect relations between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Osh and Djalal-abad have been inhabited by ethnic Uzbeks since centuries ago but were tranferred to Kyrgyz Soviet Republic by Stalin and Lenin for the sake of divide and conquer principle. The interethnic tensions were bound to be high by design but were suppressed by Soviets. Still, the first Osh massacre of 1990 came out stoked by land ownership and water access issues. Since then the ethnic relations have been a taboo but when I was in Osh two years ago I remember people (of Kyrgyz ethnicity) complaining about dominance of Uzbeks in business (which is true due to entrepreneurial spirit of them). I was a bit surprised because I had previously thought that relations were good and nobody wanted the repeat of 1990. Obviously, the discontent has been simmering for a long time. On the other hand, the Uzbek community have also wanted to be presented in governing and law making. Akaev, the first president, had managed to get along with it bringing in a few prominent Uzbeks into politics but Bakiev tried to suppress their political movement. That's why when he was ousted from office, Uzbek leader Batyrov quickly emerged and claimed about the resurgence of Uzbek political activity. The problem is that he did it very loudly and too soon which wasn't well accepted by local Kyrgyz population. On the other hand he gave the Interim Gov. a hand in dealing with pro-Bakiev forces so he felt he was due support from it. So, the ground for inter-ethnic conflicts was ready and ripe.

The question is who stoked the fire? Obviously, the most suspected is the Bakievs. And for sure there's ground to support it. But is there a bigger game at play?
In Response

by: Ed Kearney from: Portland OR
June 17, 2010 15:09
Thanks Marat-aka,
Your post is the best information I have found on the reasons behind the violence. I had wondered if economics was a factor due to the Uzbeks having a talent for business. I hope that the interim can find the resources to bring order and a genuine democracy.

by: Senjo
June 15, 2010 08:52
To our friends in Moscow. You want a sphere of influence? This is your backyard? Empires require more care than exchanges of folk dancers and football matches. It's time to get your hands dirty.
In Response

by: BS Buster
June 18, 2010 21:13
PR wise, Russia can't completely win either way.

If it were to militarily intervene, claims of "Russian imperialism" will be evident.

By not intevening, it's accused of being "weak" and "indecisive."

by: Anonymous
June 15, 2010 10:51
Thank you for the above article and the explanation provided to us.

by: UZey from: Vienna
June 15, 2010 12:14
I wanted to check how is the situation in Kyrgyzstan, but unsurprizingly saw the comment from Armenian who got the brilliant chance to mislead the readers and blackmail whomever they can to prove the world that they are innocent humans who have been suffering the genocide by Azeris and Turks. In fact more than half a million Azeris were forced out from their historical lands, cities and Villages in Armenia in late 1980s. Yes some Armenians also were forced out from Azerbaijan, as Armenians that time started the Karabakh war and started killing armless Azeris in the land which belongs to Azerbaijan de jure and historically. Unfortunately, Karabakh and surrounding 7 districts are still under the military occupation by Armenia - already 18 years. 1 more fact, at the moment more than 50000 Armenians are still living in Baku and other cities. But there is no Azeri living in Armenia. I don't want to load the readers of this site with the facts and figures, I think it has no sense. Please stop misleading the world community with your ficticious stories.
I'm just sorry for simple Armenians living under extreme poverty in Armenia and dancing under the music dictated by Armenian diaspora from all over the world. They are also fed up with all these fairy tells. One day the justice will be restored.
In Response

by: Taxpayer from: USA
June 23, 2010 02:28
UZey is using Azeri/Turkish propaganda talking points straight from their genocide denial manual. Here is the truth about Artsakh struggle for freedom from centuries of Turkic yoke:

1. Azeri Turkish ancestral lands are thousands miles away in Siberian Altai mountains where bands of these nomads came from a few centuries ago destroying ancient Greek, Assyrian, Armenian and other civilizations.

2. Republic of Azerbaijan was artificially created by blood thirsty Turkish Army led by general Nuri Pasha in 1918 after wiping out entire Armenian populations of this territory. Even then it did not include Artsakh (Karabakh) and Nakhijevan populated by Armenians.

3. Artsakh and Nakhijevan were given to Azerbaijan by Moscow Bolsheviks to create Soviet Azerbaijan on the lands of Talysh, Lezgin and Armenian people.

4. During Soviet times Azeris managed to drive out all Armenians from Nakhijevan and now are busy destroying their ancient cemeteries and churches. However, Armenians survived Azeri-Soviet yoke on parts of Artsakh and peacefully proclaimed independence from Soviet Azerbaijan.

5. In response to this peaceful nation self determination Azerbaijan and Soviet armies launched an all-out war and genocide against Armenians in Artsakh and Azerbijan proper killing, maiming, raping and driving out hundreds of thousands of ethnic Armenians.

6. Azeri Army lost this war and withdrew from parts of Artsakh historic Armenian lands. Since that time a whole new generation of Armenians grew up in Artsakh without knowing what it's like to live under Azeri yoke.

7. There are lies, big lies and Azeri/Turkish statistics. Recently Turks were caught lying about "100,000 illegal Armenians" living in Turkey. They tried to blackmail the international community by implying that these fictitious people will be at risk of another genocide if Turkey doesn't get its way. The same tactic is used by Azeris who lie about "50,000 Armenians ... still living in Baku." If they are still there, where are their churches, schools, community leaders? Everything was destroyed by Azeri mobs in late 1990s.

8. Yuliya, the Armenian girl whose post is at the top, is probably too young to remember Armenian pogroms in 1960s in Kirovabad and other places in Azerbaijan. Azeri Turks remained themselves even during Communist rule. They also managed to change the borders of Artsakh by biting off more and more Armenian lands and populating Armenian villages and towns inside Artsakh that were emptied during the Nuri Pasha genocide.

9. Finished with Armenian minorities inside Azerbaijan Azeris started to annihilate other ethnic minorities from their ancestral lands. Lezgi and Talysh people are driven out of the country, their youth is discriminated in Azeri army and their whole cultures and languages will disappear soon if they don't take action as Armenians of Artsakh did.
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