Russia 'concerned' over nationalism in Kyrgyzstan: embassy

22nd September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russia said Wednesday it was concerned over rising nationalism in Kyrgyzstan, following deadly ethnic clashes between majority ethnic Kyrgyz and minority Uzbeks earlier this year.

"The Russian embassy in Kyrgyzstan is concerned that nationalist rhetoric has intensified in recent statements by some political leaders," the embassy said in a statement.

"Attempts to proclaim special rights and privileges for particular ethnic groups do not contribute to the normalisation of inter-ethnic relations in Kyrgyzstan ... and affect the international image of the Kyrgyz Republic."

The comments came a day after a prominent political scientist, Nur Omarov, was attacked near his home in the capital Bishkek. His attackers reportedly told Omarov, an ethnic Kyrgyz, that he was being targeted for his Uzbek appearance.

In addition to Omarov, the statement mentioned Alexander Knyazev, another political scientist and ethnic Russian who was also recently attacked in Bishkek.

Kyrgyzstan, which borders China, has been wracked by political chaos and ethnic violence since the toppling of Kurmanbek Bakiyev as president in bloody street protests in April.

President Roza Otunbayeva, a former ambassador to both Britain and the United States, has struggled to impose order since assuming power, particularly in the country's deeply divided southern regions where the fighting occurred.

Hundreds of people died in fierce ethnic clashes in June in southern Kyrgyzstan that mainly targeted the area's Uzbek minority. Witnesses said that some Kyrgyz army and police units also took part in the violence.

Victims of the June clashes have told AFP the violence was an orchestrated campaign by armed Kyrgyz militias targeting Uzbeks, who make up about 14 percent of Kyrgyzstan's population of 5.3 million.

International observers have raised concerns that politicians are stoking ethnic tensions for political gain ahead of upcoming parliamentary elections planned for October 10.

© 2010 AFP

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