Kyrgyzstan (Kyrgyz Republic)

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Kyrgyzstan (Kyrgyz Republic)

Kyrgyzstan (Kyrgyz Republic) is a landlocked country located in Central Asia. Bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, China to the southeast, Uzbekistan to the west, and Tajikistan to the south, it is 198,500 square kilometers (76,620 square miles) in area.

As of July 2003, Kyrgyzstan's population was estimated at 4.9 million. The prominent ethnicities are Kyrgyz (52%) and Russian (18%). The prominent religions are Muslim (75%), followed by Russian Orthodox (20%).

Kyrgyzstan has a history of being inhabited by nomadic clans and ruled by tribal leaders. It was annexed by Russia in the late nineteenth century. In 1926, Kyrgyzstan became the Kyrgyz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. It declared full independence from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in August 1991.

Kyrgyzstan moved from a communist Soviet republic into an increasingly authoritarian regime under President Askar Akayev (b. 1944), who was initially elected to office October 28, 1990. Akayev, perceived as corrupt and authoritarian, was deposed in a popular uprising in March 2005. He fled the country and tendered his resignation from office on April 4 while in exile.

Kyrgyzstan is formally a constitutional republic with a strong executive branch. In 2003 a national referendum greatly increased the president's powers. As both head of state and of government, the president appoints the prime minister along with the cabinet of ministers. Directly elected for five-year terms, the president is nominally limited to two terms. Akayev was allowed to run again in 2000, however, as the Constitutional Court ruled that his first term began in 1995 rather than in 1990 when he took office.

The president can implement policies along with constitutional amendments through a national referendum, which may be scheduled without the approval of the legislature. Presidential power also includes the ability to veto legislation and remove regional and local judges.

The original constitution put into place a unicameral legislative branch, but in 1996 a second chamber was established by a national referendum. The legislative branch consisted of a bicameral parliament including the Assembly of People's Representatives, which has seventy members, and the Legislative Assembly, which has thirty-five members. All legislators are directly elected and serve five-year terms. In 2005 the country reverted to a unicameral legislative body with seventy-five members. The legislative branch is charged with conducting the day-to-day business of the legislature.

The judiciary is headed by a Supreme Court and a Constitutional Court. The Supreme Court is appointed by parliament on the recommendation by the president. The judges of the Supreme Court serve ten-year terms. Constitutional Court judges serve fifteen-year terms. Both lack independence from the executive branch, and corruption is widespread.

After independence, political parties were allowed to participate in the political process. In 1999, however, legislation was introduced giving the government power to declare political parties illegal if they were perceived to pose a security threat. The international community has deemed past elections in Kyrgyzstan as having serious and extensive irregularities.

The media has been subject to harassment by the government; individuals with close ties to the government own many of the media outlets. Freedom of religion is mostly permitted, with religious groups required to register with the government. The government of Kyrgyzstan into the early 2000s continued to be nondemocratic and authoritarian.

See also: Russia; Ukraine.


Capisani, Giampaolo R. The Handbook of Central Asia: A Comprehensive Survey of the New Republics. London: I. B. Tauris Publishers, 2000.

Freedom House. "Kyrgyzstan." Freedom in the World 2004. New York: Freedom House, 2004. <>.

"Kyrgyzstan." CIA World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2004. <>.

U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. "Kyrgyz Republic." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 2005. <>.

Cara Richards