The Ferghana Valley, the fertile heartland of Central Asia, looks like paradise at this time of year. Fat-tailed sheep graze on the slopes, green after the winter snowmelt. Boys on donkeys chivvy cattle alongside blossoming fruit trees, and the urban bazaars have their usual bustling air.
But this calm veneer conceals latent tensions that have been brought to the fore by political violence in Kyrgyzstan that led to the overthrow of the president and caused at least 84 deaths. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
In the multiethnic Ferghana Valley, the unrest has created nervous tension, argues Kyrgyz academic Ozodbek Karamatov. "People’s psychology went into action," Karamatov - who heads the Batyrov People’s Friendship University in the southern town of Jalal-Abad - told EurasiaNet.org. "People started to panic."
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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asian affairs.