Spotlight 1/21: At a Crossroads. Kyrgyzstan after the recent elections | References and further reading

by Rebecca Wagner | To the publication

1 Kyrgyzstan, Early Presidential Election, 10 January 2021: Statement of Preliminary Findings and Conclusions (

2 The main challengers from within the conservative, nationalist camp were Adachan Madumarov, head of the Bütün Kyrgyzstan Party, and Kanatbek Isajev, leading candidate of Kyrgyzstan Party. Isajev positioned himself against the constitutional amendments. The main opposition candidates were Klara Soonkulova, the only woman running for presidency and leader of the liberal party Reforma and a former member of the socialist Ata-Meken Party, Kanybek Imanalijev, both of whom also opposed the constitutional reform process.
3 Further amendments included lowering the registration fee for candidates to 1 million Soms (around 10,000 euros) and abolishing “Form Number 2”, which was heavily criticized as an instrument for vote-buying.

4 CDL-AD(2020)031-e - Revised guidelines on the holding of referendums Approved by the Council of Democratic Elections at its 69th online meeting (7 October 2020) and adopted by the Venice Commission at its 124th online Plenary Session (89 October 2020) (

5 Kyrgyzstan recorded a high number of Covid-19 cases in the first half of 2020. By the end of June, the country had a total of 5,296 Covid-19 infections and 57 deaths. From March to May 2020, the Kyrgyz government imposed strict lockdown and quarantine measures in a strongly authoritarian style. As a consequence of the lockdown, thousands of people lost their jobs, and the economy was hit hard. According to some estimates, the country’s GDP is expected to shrink by ten percent in 2020. Remittances, mainly from migrant workers in Russia, are the backbone of the Kyrgyz economy. Due to the travel restrictions, however, remittances from Russia to Kyrgyzstan declined by around ten percent compared to 2019 in the first seven months of 2020, with the lowest points in April and May 2020. The unemployment rate increased to 21 percent and cases of domestic violence reportedly climbed to 65 percent. Despite these deteriorating socioeconomic circumstances, the government neither provided financial aid for its citizens, nor sufficient medical aid. A state of emergency was announced, significantly restricting the freedom of movement of Kyrgyz citizens. Further, the lockdown measures negatively affected the already fragile freedom of expression, association, and assembly as the work of media and journalists was heavily restricted. Journalists were not granted approval to oversee the work of the government, nor were they provided sufficient access to information, on measures taken by state authorities, for instance. Further reading:

6 The new government’s anti-corruption campaign included the detention of businessman Raimbek Matraimov. However, several critics consider these actions to be more of a tool of distraction amidst recent political developments, as, shortly after being detained, Matraimov was released on bail and put under house arrest ( The US sanctioned Matraimov under the Magnitsky Act in December 2020 (



1007/2020 - Kyrgyzstan - Amicus Curiae Brief on the postponement of the Parliamentary elections motivated by carrying out a constitutional reform

Kyrgyzstan, Early Presidential Election, 10 January 2021: Statement of Preliminary Findings and Conclusions (

Freedom House:

Kyrgyzstan: Briefing paper documents Covid-19 restrictions on free speech, civil society and access to justice, IPHR online, June 2020 (

His Murder Is Necessary: Man Who Exposed Kyrgyz Smuggling Scheme Was Hunted by Contract Killers by OCCRP, RFE/RL, Kloop, and Bellingcat, 10 November 2020 (


Further reading:

Zwischen Nationalpopulismus und Neoliberalismus – die aktuellen Entwicklungen in Kirgistan aus Sicht globaler politischer Trends, Florian Coppenrath, Zentralasien-Analyse Nr. 144, 04.12.2020 (