Spring Cleaning: Kyrgyzstan’s Latest Political Transition – Prospects, Permutations and Policy Priorities

May 18, 2010 - IFES

On May 18, IFES held a panel with top Central Asia experts to discuss the state of the country’s democracy as, for the second time in two years, the Kyrgyz Republic has experienced a violent political transition. The panelists compared the events that took place on April 7, 2010 to the “Tulip Revolution” of 2005; they spoke about the current political climate in Kyrgyzstan and the population’s response to the latest upheaval; the state of the country’s political institutions; and the political divide between the North and the South of the country. The speakers also assessed the threats and opportunities this critical time presents for Kyrgyzstan by looking the experiences of other post-Soviet countries. All four panelists agreed that the referendum on the Constitution to be held on June 27 will be a pivotal point in Kyrgyzstan’s political history.  

The panelists included Dr. Thomas Wood, assistant professor at the University of South Carolina, Aiken; Emil Dzhuraev, a Ph.D. candidate at the Government and Politics department at the University of Maryland; Gavin Weise, IFES deputy director for Europe & Asia; and Anthony Bowyer, IFES program manager for the Caucasus & Central Asia.

For more information about our work in Kyrgyzstan, please see http://www.ifes.org/countries/Kyrgyzstan.aspx

Event Announcement:

For the second time in five years, Kyrgyzstan has experienced a violent political transition. What are the differences between the “Tulip Revolution” of 2005 and the events of April 7, 2010? Is this democracy’s last chance in Kyrgyzstan or in Central Asia in general, and what do the events say about past and future U.S. policy priorities and options?

Please join us for expert insight into Kyrgyzstan’s democratization at IFES—the world’s premiere election-assistance and democracy promotion NGO. IFES has been working in Kyrgyzstan since 1993.

May 18, 2010 at 1PM

IFES Divisible Conference Room
1850 K Street NW, Fifth Floor
Washington DC, 20006

With special guests:

Janice Helwig

Policy Advisor, U.S. Helsinki Commission

Janice Helwig has served as a policy advisor for the U.S. Helsinki Commission for over fifteen years.  Her work currently focuses on Central Asia, Afghanistan, gender issues, and combating child pornography on the Internet.  From 1994 to 2008, she served as the Helsinki Commission liaison on the U.S. Delegation to the OSCE in Vienna Austria, pursuing OSCE issues among the U.S. Congress, the State Department, and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.

Dr. Thomas Wood

Assistant Professor, University of South Carolina, Aiken

Thomas Wood is currently an assistant professor of political science at the University of South Carolina, Aiken. He teaches international relations and comparative politics, including elective courses on former Soviet Union and Middle Eastern politics. Prior to that Wood was a visiting assistant professor at Trinity College in Hartford. Additionally he has been program officer for Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) in Washington DC, working on democracy promotion programs focused on Central Asia, and, as a fellow with the Civic Education Project. Wood has also taught international relations at the American University-Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. In 2005, Wood received his Ph.D. from the Fletcher School, Tufts University with a dissertation on Kyrgyzstan’s foreign policy. His research interests include the foreign policy and international relations of former Soviet small states. 

Anthony Bowyer

Program Manager, Caucasus & Central Asia, IFES

Anthony C. Bowyer has more than 15 years of experience in designing and managing election assistance, civil society, civic education and political party development programs in the South Caucasus and Central Asia. He has worked extensively with political leaders, election officials, members of parliament, political party and civil society representatives, academics and students. He has authored papers and conducted research on Central Asia and former Soviet states, as well as guest lectured at American University, Marymount University, Johns Hopkins University, the George C. Marshall Center, the Foreign Service Institute, National Defense University, St. Petersburg State University (Russia) and the Helsinki Commission of the United States Congress. Bowyer holds a BA in Russian Area Studies from the University of Minnesota, an MA in International Relations from the University of Miami and an honorary degree from The Engineering Academy of the Republic of Tajikistan. He is fluent in Russian and a student of Tajik and Kazakh.

Moderated by

Michael Svetlik

Program Director, IFES

Michael Svetlik has worked in international development for 15 years and currently serves as Vice President of Programs, responsible for IFES’ technical assistance and democracy promotion programs. His areas of expertise include political change, institutional development, election system design, civic awareness and activism, and project management, evaluation and design. Svetlik previously served as Senior Director of Programs and Regional Director for Europe & Asia at IFES. He directed overseas IFES projects in both Georgia and Azerbaijan from 1998-2000.