Controversial language legislation in Kyrgyzstan threatens to stir inter-ethnic tension in the Central Asian nation. Leaders of the country's Uzbek and Russian communities say the law denies them adequate political representation and a role in Kyrgyz society. Supporters counter that the law is needed to preserve Kyrgyz culture.
Kyrgyzstan is the only Central Asian country in which Russian remains an official language. At present, Russian is designated as the "language of interethnic communication" between the country's 4.9 million population, which includes Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Russians, Germans, Chechens, Uighurs and other ethnic groups. Kyrgyz ranks as the "state language," a somewhat subordinate ranking that obliges members of government to have a basic understanding of the language.
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Emil Mamataipov is a pseudonym for a freelance journalist based in Bishkek.