Summer Featured Scholar 2010
This scholar is a professor, administrator and former university president who has been the leader of the sole opposition party in the Kyrgyzstan Parliament since 2007. He combines extensive experience in higher education, international relations, and development policy as a scholar of history and former member of parliament in Kyrgyzstan.
The scholar received his Ph.D. in History in 1983 and completed post-doctoral studies in political science in Estonia. He went on to participate in an advanced security studies program at a think tank in Germany and has served on the editorial boards of journals relating to Central Asia and the Caucasus. As a recognized leader, he was appointed to prominent university positions throughout Kyrgyzstan. He also served for seven years as an Associate Professor of History and Political Science at a university in Kyrgyzstan.
In 1998, he was elected to Kyrgyzstan’s parliament and has since served as a leader of its main opposition party. During his political tenure, the scholar played a key role in formulating development policy in Kyrgyzstan as National Manager of the United Nations Ferghana Valley Development Program, where he worked to promote regional ties with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
As an opposition leader and long-time advocate of democratic policy, the scholar took the President of Kyrgyzstan to court for violating the Constitution’s prohibition against partisan lobbying, led parliamentary investigations into charges of corruption against the government, and publically challenged the government’s foreign policies. As a result of his actions, he was routinely detained and interrogated for his promotion of democratic systems and promotion of strong ties with the U.S. After years of surveillance, harassment and intimidation, the scholar was forced to leave Kyrgyzstan in August 2009 after a failed assassination attempt on his life.
Upon coming to the U.S., the scholar joined the Center for International Studies at a prominent university as a visiting researcher and worked as one of three lead authors on a comprehensive history of the Ferghana Valley, due to be published by Johns Hopkins University in late 2010. His contributions to the project include a chapter on the political histories of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, and the implications of Islamic extremism in the region.
In April 2010, opposition leaders in Kyrgyzstan led mass riots to protest what was believed to be widespread corruption by the ruling party, and after days of violent clashes, overthrew the government and drove the president into hiding. As an interim government develops, the scholar continues to play a critical role in advising the new administration, even as ethnic tensions and violence plague the country. Through all of this, the scholar contributes frequently to national and regional media in Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia. Most recently, in July, he gave expert testimony to the United States Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe where he discussed the need for the US and EU to take part in democracy building in Kyrgyzstan. He hopes to one day return to Kyrgyzstan to rebuild its democratic institutions.
With Scholar Rescue Fund support, the scholar will join a prestigious US institution where he works in a Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. During the 2010-2011 academic term he hopes to advance his research on security in Central Asia from various perspectives including: national security policies and the Soviet legacy; motivations and consequences of China’s engagement in Central Asian security; and U.S. involvement in the region with regard to the war in Afghanistan.
To read the International Crisis Group report on Kyrgyzstan please click here.