Bishkek Power Plant. Photo Credit: Danil Usmanov
By Caroline Elkin, Program Assistant with CIPE’s Europe and Eurasia team.
There are trite ways to describe almost every post-Soviet country: Belarus is Europe’s last dictatorship and Kazakhstan suggests Borat. Kyrgyzstan, sometimes called the island of democracy in Central Asia, appears luckier.
In reality, Kyrgyzstan’s cliché camouflages the overwhelming challenge of corruption, which 95 percent of citizens consider a major problem today. A growing scandal illustrates the extent of corruption in the country, and the challenges of combatting corruption in what, is at best, a flawed democracy.
President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, elected October 2017 in a flawed but somewhat competitive contest, has fired or brought corruption charges against high-ranking associates of his immediate predecessor, Almazbek Atambayev. Many of these stem from the scandal surrounding a badly repaired Bishkek thermal power plant, which broke during a cold snap in January 2018. That left nearly a quarter million residents of the capital without heat for several days in -16° Fahrenheit weather. Read More...