Ukraine and the countries of Central Asia wouldn’t seem to have much in common other than their former Soviet past. But post-Soviet Russian ambitions may be linking them in unexpected ways. The outcome of Ukraine’s current effort to consolidate its democracy, against Russia’s resistance, has ramifications for whether the Central Asian countries view civil society and democracy as a driver of instability or a force for reform.
Dr. Kathleen Kuehnast, director of the Center for Gender and Peacebuilding at the U.S. Institute of Peace, testifies before a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats hearing on “Water Sharing Conflicts and the Threat to International Peace.”
Kyrgyzstan is the only country in Central Asia that has seen significant political transition since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, having twice—in 2005 and 2010—overthrown autocrats in violent uprisings. At the same time, its new democratic institutions, elected leaders, and multiparty parliament make it a test case for political liberalization. If its political system fails or the country falls apart, so will the first democratic experiment in Central Asia. Concerns within Kyrgyzst...