Against a backdrop of authoritarianism, corruption, and cronyism, the Soviet joke was a welcome release valve. It's a tradition that has lived on in the post-Soviet world.
During the rule of the previous Kyrgyz president, Askar Akaev, who was ousted in 2005 in the so-called Tulip Revolution, Kyrgyz people joked about his government's tendency to appoint to high positions people from his home district of Kemin, north Kyrgyzstan.
President Askar Akayev has been addressing the Kyrgyz nation after the collapse of the Communist regime in 1991:
"Dear compatriots, I won't promise you any kind of Communism, but there will be Keminism, for sure!"
Now, there is a new joke doing the rounds about the family of Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev, who has two sons, Marat and Maksim.
Bakiev's wife, Tatiana, is walking through Bishkek's streets to assess the postrevolutionary development in the capital city.
As she's walking, she sees a new, tall building under construction and asks an aide: "Who is building it?"
"Maksim is building that one, dear Tatiana Vasil'evna."
"Who is building that one?" she then says, pointing to another new building.
"And what about that big one?"
"Maksim is doing it, Mrs. Bakieva."
She thinks about what she has heard and says: "It seems to me that the only person working in this country is my son."
Maksim, the head of the Kyrgyz Central Agency for Development, Investments, and Innovations, has been accused of using his family connections to get good deals on shares and privatization, accusations he has firmly denied.
-- Tyntchtykbek Tchoroev