Two months ago, revolutionary developments in Kyrgyzstan sent shockwaves rumbling through neighboring Uzbekistan, placing Uzbek President Islam Karimov's administration on guard against a popular revolt. Now, it is Kyrgyzstan's provisional leadership that is growing nervous about the impact of the Uzbek government's crackdown in Andijan. Felix Kulov, a key member of the Kyrgyz leadership team, has voiced concern of a spillover effect, amid unconfirmed reports that Kyrgyzstani citizens participated in the Andijan events.
A touchstone of tension is the estimated 1,500 Uzbek refugees who crossed into Kyrgyzstan to escape the May 13 assault carried out by Uzbek security forces. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Uzbek officials have said they expect the refugees to return in the near future. Many of those who fled have voiced a desire to stay, saying they would face arrest and, possibly torture, if they fell into the hands of Uzbek security forces.
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Alisher Khamidov Alisher Khamidov is a PhD Candidate at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University in Washington D.C.