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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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VII. The Third President: Roza Otunbaeva (2010–2011)


1. Another “Revolution”

1.1. The Pursuit of Stability

When on June 27, 2010, Roza Otunbaeva became confirmed by referendum as new interim president of the Kyrgyz Republic, she was the CIS’s first female head of state. In March 2010, the democratic opposition had already formed an alternative “Popular Assembly,” with Otunbaeva as head of its executive council. She had been foreign minister under Akaev, and had also served as the country’s UN envoy to Georgia during the 2003 Rose Revolution there.

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