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Kyrgyzstan is a central Asian country on the western border of China, once part of the Soviet Union and having a population of around five million and capital city of Bishkek.[1] The BBC writes of the country's democratic standards, "In the early 1990s, Kyrgyzstan's democratic credentials were regarded as relatively strong. This reputation was subsequently lost as corruption and nepotism took hold during President Akayev's years in office. Parliamentary and presidential elections were flawed, opposition figures faced harassment and imprisonment while opposition newspapers were closed." [2]


The BBC says of the country's media:

The media in Kyrgyzstan have traditionally enjoyed greater editorial freedom than their regional counterparts, but have been subject to increasing pressure in recent years. Large fines, often the outcome of legal actions for slander, create financial burdens for opposition and private media outlets, according to press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders. The internet has yet to make significant inroads outside the towns and cities.[2]

Foreign military bases in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is unique in that it is the only country to have both a U.S. and Russian military base on its terrority. Russia has a base at Kant, just 40 kilometers from the U.S. base at Manus. The U.S. has been using the Manus base since 2001 for military operations against Afghanistan. In June 2007, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates went to Kyrgyzstan to talk about the continued U.S. presence in the country since public opinion is divided on whether the U.S. should be there. Money is a big issue. Bruce Pannier of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty wrote, "since late 2005 some government officials have been questioning whether the U.S. government is paying a fair rent for the base, which was some $2 million per year but was increased last year to several times that amount after prolonged negotiations.

"Before meeting with Bakiev, Gates portrayed the stationing of U.S. troops at Manas as part of Kyrgyzstan's contribution to an international struggle.

"But public opinion about the U.S. military presence in Kyrgyzstan remains divided, as deputy parliament speaker Erkin Alymbekov showed in comments to RFE/RL's [Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] Kyrgyz Service today when he was asked whether U.S. troops should leave Kyrgyzstan. "No, if we would close the American air base [at the Manas airport] and let them go, it would be a political mistake, because the United States has been supporting us with humanitarian and other kinds of massive aid," he said. "The existing political situation [in our country] is also against closure in the way Uzbekistan did with the Khanabad [air base]." The Manas base is a mere 40 kilometers from Kant, where Russia maintains a base as part of the CIS Collective Security Treaty. The Kant base is being enlarged with more troops and military aircraft gradually being added. Russian media, as much and maybe more than the Kyrgyz media, has chronicled U.S. problems at Manas.

"When the five Kyrgyz parliamentary committees recommended demanding a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Manas they referred to a 2005 call from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) for the U.S. to make clear when it intended to leave the bases it is using in Central Asia." [3]


  • Kurmanbek Bakiyev, President since election in July 2005. Foreign observers reported that the election showed "clear progress in democratic standards."[2]


Related SourceWatch articles


  1. Kyrgyzstan, National Geographic, accessed April 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Country profile: Kyrgyzstan, BBC, accessed April 2008.
  3. Bruce Pannier, "Kyrgyzstan: U.S. Defense Secretary Seeking Support For Air Base", Free Europe/Radio Liberty, June 5, 2007.

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