The recent violent clashes between protestors and police in Kyrgyzstan fit a trend in which Central Asian presidents crush dissent with less and less temperance. They also underscore a separate but related trend: the equation of opportunist politicians who have lost power with a broader civil society movement. In Turkmenistan, former government officials in exile have stepped up criticism of President Saparmurat Niyazov. And in Kyrgyzstan, two jailed politicians - former Vice President Feliks Kulov and oppositionist member of parliament Azimbek Beknazarov - have become such potent symbols of resistance that they may squelch the development of a broader democratic movement.
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Alisher Khamidov is currently a Muskie Fellow graduate student at the Joan B. Kroc Institute of Peace Studies at Notre Dame University.