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Kyrgyzstan’s Youth: Force for Change or Chips off the Old Block?

Since helping topple President Kurmanbek Bakiyev last year, Kyrgyzstan’s youth activists have agitated for more say in how their country is run. But a year after voters approved a constitution promising parliamentary governance by “people’s deputies,” youth groups are having difficulties finding a niche and appear increasingly open to manipulation by their political elders. 

Over half of Kyrgyzstan’s population is under the age of 25. Elections last fall returned many of the same old faces to parliament, which is again dominated by an aging post-Soviet elite—with a few exceptions.

One of the youngest deputies in parliament, 27-year-old Joomart Saparbayev says he is “disappointed when youth [activists] try to play by the rules of the older generation.”

“Corruption takes place in youth politics by the same methods it does at senior levels. People pay money for positions, for influence and for access to certain political figures,” Saparbayev, a member of the opposition Ata-Meken party, told EurasiaNet.org. 

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Chris Rickleton is a Bishkek-based journalist.

Kyrgyzstan’s Youth: Force for Change or Chips off the Old Block?

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