New publication: The October Revolution in Kyrgyzstan


In October 2020, the world witnessed a third sudden change of power in Kyrgyzstan since the country's independence. In 2005, 2010 and 2020, repeated mass protests had led to the violent overthrow of the political regimes of Presidents Askar Akaev, Kurmanbek Bakiev and Sooronbay Zheenbekov. Although the conditions that contributed to the protests were more or less similar, they differed in terms of how the political elites were seen by the protesters.
The aim of this paper is to critically analyse the role of political elites during the three revolutions in Kyrgyzstan. The authors see a decline in the political influence of leaders, an increase in public grievances and a deterioration of the socio-economic situation. Towards the end of 2020, these processes increased distrust of the political establishment and contributed to the popularity and rise to power of the more populist-oriented President Sadyrbek Japarov. In contrast to the previous Kyrgyz revolutions, the elites were thus no longer able to launch a leader from the old political establishment after the revolution in October 2020.The authors assume that the role of these old political elites is tending to diminish and that they no longer represent the rigid power factors they still appear to be. Furthermore, Sheranova and Uraimov criticise previous research on protests in Central Asia as elitist and reductionist, as it often ignores the role of society and social grievances.

The essay "The Declining Role of Political Elites in Revolutions in Post-communist Eurasia: The October Revolution in Kyrgyzstan" by Arzuu Sheranova, freelance employee in the IFSH project "Local Peace in Central Eurasia", and Marat Uraimov can be read online in Central Asian Affairs: