Call this wishful thinking, but could a change in the approach to ethnic tensions be underway at Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee for National Security, the GKNB? This week its new boss suggested that his agency may no longer conflate ethnic tensions with Islamic extremism – a welcome development and a stark change from the rhetoric under his predecessor.
Shamil Atakhanov told parliament’s defense and security committee on January 16 that his GKNB was watching 29 especially sensitive ethnic flashpoints, the 24.kg news agency reported, and creating contingency measures to calm local populations in the event of violence. At the same hearing, Deputy Interior Minister Baktybek Alymbekov listed 147 potential flashpoints. There was no mention of Islamic extremists.
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