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Voluntary Militias in Kyrgyzstan May Become Political Players

Men sign up for voluntary security brigades in central Bishkek on April 8. They identify themselves with a white cloth tied around their arms. (Photo: David Trilling)

They stopped the looting, helped save the new government, and gave many frightened residents in strife-torn Kyrgyzstan peace of mind. But there’s a danger now that members of Kyrgyzstan's volunteer militia formations – or narodniye druzhiniki – may develop into players who exert undue influence over the next phase of the Central Asian nation’s political development.

Amid the early April tumult that brought down former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s administration, young men in Bishkek and other cities began forming druzhiniki groups to patrol the streets and restore order. [For background see EurasiaNet’s archive].
These groups were originally envisioned as a temporary solution to security challenges. But in the ongoing unrest that has plagued Kyrgyzstan since April, militia groups have kept on amassing influence.

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Ulan Temirov is the pseudonym for a journalist based in Bishkek.

Voluntary Militias in Kyrgyzstan May Become Political Players

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