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Friday, May 06, 2005


VOA on Central Asian elections

From Voice of America:

Elections in Central Asia continue to pose challenges and foster change, but perhaps nowhere more so than in the neighboring countries of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Analysts say the activity stems from the recent popular unrest in Kyrgyzstan, which led to the ouster of long-time leader Askar Akayev. Fearing the possibility of similar unrest, Kazakhstan last week amended its election code, in a move opposition critics say is designed to head off a peoples' revolution.

Officials in Kazakhstan, which has never held an election judged free or fair by the West, have published a new law banning street rallies during and after elections.

But the new election law is drawing immediate ire from opposition political parties. They say it aims to prevent a repeat scenario of the popular electoral uprisings witnessed over the past two years in Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan.

The Director of Moscow's Heritage Foundation, Yevgeni Volk, tells VOA the recent political demonstrations, and questions and fears they raise, highlight a whole new way of thinking in Central Asia.

"This unrest shows that even in the most traditional societies of the Central Asian region, where people obey their superiors and where revolutions were not an ordinary thing, where the potential for subordination is very traditional, I would say even in those countries people understand that something is to be changed that the ruling elite are corrupt, that they lead the countries nowhere, that really some kind of radical shift toward a kind of new system is badly needed," concluded Mr. Volk.

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