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Qishloq Ovozi

Former President Almazbek Atambaev (left) and the man who succeeded him, Sooronbai Jeenbekov (composite file photo)

Just days before Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov marked one year in power, he faced a challenge from the man who did more than anyone else to help propel him to the presidency -- former President Almazbek Atambaev.

Information was leaked onto the Internet alleging that Jeenbekov had drastically overspent on campaigning for the presidency in violation of election rules.

Then Atambaev appeared on a television station that he has been linked to financially and gave a 90-minute interview, during which he criticized Jeenbekov's policies and said his former ally's time in office was in some ways worse than the presidencies of the Kyrgyz leaders chased from power in 2005 and 2010 -- Askar Akaev and Kurmanbek Bakiev, respectively.

Kyrgyzstan has gained a well-earned reputation as a country with a lively, sometimes too lively, domestic political scene.

Does a very public rift between Kyrgyzstan's current president and his immediate predecessor signal the beginning of a new period of political tension or is there a chance for reconciliation?

RFE/RL's media-relations manager, Muhammad Tahir, moderated a discussion on the recent aggravation in ties between Jeenbekov and Atambaev.

Joining the debate, we had Erica Marat, an associate professor at the National Defense University in Washington D.C. and author of many articles on Kyrgyzstan, and Bakyt Beshimov, who is currently a professor at Northeastern University in Boston and a former member of the Kyrgyz parliament. And, since I'm a big devotee of Kyrgyzstan's domestic politics, I had something to say as well.

Majlis Podcast: Have Kyrgyz Leaders Reached The Point Of No Return?
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The Khujand prison in northern Tajikistan.

On November 8, violence broke out at the Khujand prison in Tajikistan’s northern Sughd region.

Tajik authorities have been slow in revealing details about the prison riot but it now seems that dozens of people, mainly prisoners, were killed.

Adding to the confusion, the Islamic State militant group has claimed it had a role in the violence.

What happened at the Khujand prison and why?

RFE/RL's Media Relations Manager Muhammad Tahir moderated a discussion about the Khujand prison riot.

The participants in the discussion were:

  • Helene Thibault, a political-science lecturer at Nazarbaev University in Kazakhstan, who previously conducted extensive fieldwork in Tajikistan.
  • Irna Hofman, a rural sociologist at Lieden University in the Netherlands, who has also conducted fieldwork in Tajikistan.
  • Edward Lemon, a fellow at the Daniel Morgan Graduate School of National Security in Washington D.C.
  • Tohir Safarov from RFE/RL's Tajik Service.

Majlis Podcast: What Caused The Khujand Prison Violence?
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About This Blog

Qishloq Ovozi is a blog by RFE/RL Central Asia specialist Bruce Pannier that aims to look at the events that are shaping Central Asia and its respective countries, connect some of the dots to shed light on why those processes are occurring, and identify the agents of change. Content will draw on the extensive knowledge and contacts of RFE/RL's Central Asian services but also allow scholars in the West, particularly younger scholars who will be tomorrow’s experts on the region, opportunities to share their views on the evolving situation at this Eurasian crossroad. The name means "Village Voice" in Uzbek. But don't be fooled, Qishloq Ovozi is about all of Central Asia.

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