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Democracy in Central AsiaCompeting Perspectives and Alternative Strategies$
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Mariya Y. Omelicheva

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780813160689

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813160689.001.0001

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Political Regimes in Central Asia

Political Regimes in Central Asia

Two Decades after Independence

(p.11) 1 Political Regimes in Central Asia
Democracy in Central Asia

Mariya Y. Omelicheva

University Press of Kentucky

This chapter discusses the lack of true democracy in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan in order to set the stage for a presentation of the study's findings. In the mid-1980s the leadership in the republics of Central Asia was either quiescent in the face of looming changes within the Soviet Union or loyal to the central Soviet leadership and supportive of the Soviet federation's preservation. Ultimately, however, Central Asian governments backed democratization, and the leaders of these republics openly renounced their communist beliefs and affiliations. Western international organizations then launched development, democracy promotion, and security-related projects in these states. Although there were legitimate concerns about these republics' susceptibility to political instability and economic crises, there was also hope that these countries would undergo quick political reform, marketization, and transformation into liberal democratic states. But none of the Central Asian states has met these expectations. Today, Central Asian regimes sit along a continuum of autocracy rather than democracy, their power and authority firmly concentrated in the presidential office and maintained through a combination of repression, co-option, and political constraints on societal institutions.

Keywords:   Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), Kyrgyzstan, Venice Commission, Almazbek Atambayev, Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, mahalla

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