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Nation-Building in the Shadow of the Bear: The Dialectics of National Identity and Foreign Policy in the Kyrgyz Republic 1991–2012


Paul Christian Sander

Since 1991, Kyrgyzstan’s leaders have pursued a post-Soviet national identity. Their concepts failed to consolidate the country’s multi-ethnic society, and continuously antagonize civic values and ethnic myth. The author applies international relations theory to frame Kyrgyzstan’s identity crisis: The ruling elite has to manage tensions between their strong dependency on Russia as main donor and security provider and domestic challenges in their pursuit of a national identity. A legitimate national identity must represent both the foreign policy interests of the country and the demands of the Kyrgyz majority and ethnic minorities for representation. The Kyrgyz case unveils the complex dialectics of domestic pressure and external interests that have defined post-Soviet nation building in Russia’s near abroad.

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Speeches, Laws, Decrees, National Programs, Reports, Statistics and Official Statements from the Russian Federation, the Kyrgyz Republic and International Organizations


Human Rights Watch (HRW)

World Report 2014: Kyrgyzstan (Events of 2013):, retrieved 08/02/2016.

National Democratic Institute (NDI)

Statement of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) International Election Observer Delegation to Kyrgyzstan’s October 29, 2000 Presidential Election. Bishkek, October 31, 2000:, retrieved 12/03/2016.

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR)

Kyrgyz Republic – Presidential Elections, 29 October 2000, ODIHR Final Report:, retrieved 28/01/2016.

The Russian Federation

MID Rossiiskoi Federatsii – Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Rezoluciia chetvertogo kongressa sootechestvennikov, prozhivaiushich za rubezhom, 28/10/2012: retreived 22/01/2015.

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