Policing Public Protest in Central Asia

in Central Asian Affairs
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While Central Asia’s Soviet-era physical infrastructure crumbles, and the quality and availability of public healthcare and education decline, the police remain the one institution that controls the state’s most remote territories. This article argues that, over the past two decades, the functions of Central Asian police forces have become increasingly punitive. Their negative influence was particularly visible in the aftermath of public protests in the 2000–2010s that resulted in fatal clashes between police units and civilian population. These watershed events were followed by government decisions to overhaul their police forces to preempt a recurrence of public protest. Depending on how willing the incumbent regimes are to control political dissent and how capable the state is in performing these control functions, changes in the Interior Ministries follow. When political will is matched by the economic and administrative resource of the state, policing functions are distributed among additional state institutions. But when the regime lacks the resources to upgrade policing techniques to the desired level, it almost always requests international support to facilitate police reform.

Policing Public Protest in Central Asia

in Central Asian Affairs




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Ibid. Lewis 2011. On the police as one the state’s predatory and corrupt institutions see Johan Engvall The State as Investment Market: An Analytical Framework for Interpreting Politics and Bureaucracy in Kyrgyzstan (Uppsala: Uppsala University Press 2012) 154 180–184. Eric McGlinchey Chaos Violence Dynasty: Politics and Islam in Central Asia (Pittsburg: Pittsburg University Press 2012) 24–25.


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Ibid. Lewis 2012.


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Ibid. Lewis 2011.


Ibid. Lewis 2011.


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Ibid. Bloed; Lewis 2011.


Kyrgyzstan Interior Ministry“Programma reformy organov vnutrennikh del,” mvd.kgno date http://www.mvd.kg/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=186&Itemid=70&lang=ru (accessed August 24 2013).


Ibid. Engvall 2011; Marat 2010.


International Crisis Group“Tajikistan: The Changing Insurgent Threat”Asia Report #205 May 24 2011.


Ibid. Crisis Group 2011.


Nazar Turduev“The Tajik authorities are going to reform militia,” Voice of FreedomOctober 18 2010.

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