Kyrgyzstan’s Revolution : a New Definition of “Partytime”?Written by Angelique van Engelen
Kyrgyzstan’s swift and sudden revolution happened almost before one could have managed to pronounce this obscure country’s name. The chaos in country where activists chased away their ruling leaders show a country coming to terms with a colonial past and on a quest to find a new identity. Despite looting and – tempered- violence, initial reading of this revolution is that catharsis might preclude a positive outcome. Not so much only for this tiny country, but more importantly perhaps in wider context of rise of democracy in ex Soviet countries. Even Russian leader Vladimir Putin has shown a new attitude to regime change in a former Soviet state – vouching support for new regime and also promising to treat its old leader kindly. Kyrgyzstan’s revolution likely will have opened doors to a more pragmatic government that nevertheless will still be leaning on Russia. As such, it will be third of ex-Soviet countries that has seen a grassroots revolution within last 18 months that Russia has had to swallow. Opposition activists took matters into their own hands to ensure –what else- improved living conditions for a people that have become seriously impoverished at hands of a not so corrupt but still corrupt bunch of leaders.
Kyrgyz nationals followed in footsteps of Georgian and Ukrainian opposition forces. In Georgia, opposition - backed by US government- overthrew their Russian puppet cabinet in 2003. More recently, Ukraine last December held another round of Presidential elections after pro -Moscow outcome of first round was contested – putting in place pro Western Viktor Yuschenko. Russia’s reaction to events, which one overseas based Kyrgyz diplomat branded ‘a coup’, can be seen as uncharacteristic. Perhaps issuing a blue print of a new party line – one of utter pragmatism- President Vladimir Putin did not waste many words over issue. Moscow is ‘ready to work with Kyrgyz opposition’, he said. He also offered refuge to Akayev. Russia has never been very much interested in this poorest of five Central Asian states. Regional organizations aside from Russia that might be called onto for mediation are not immediately considered capable of inventing an adequate solution, observers say. Most of five central Asian countries have internal problems and have had difficulties in coping with fledgling economies since well before fall of Soviet Union. After 1991, region has failed to develop any robust political and economic institutions with clout and this is believed to have an impact on economic development of countries, most particularly that of Kyrgyzstan. There is also a lot of personal competition between region's –mostly elderly- leaders and this attitude, which harks back to Soviet days. This highlights why a distinct cooperative atmosphere in Central Asia is simply non-existent. Russian imperialist ambitions never really very strongly connected to Kyrgyzstan, although Russia has some troops on ground. US troops are also stationed outside airport in capital Bishkek in accommodation that recently started to take a more permanent form than tents soldiers set up when they first arrived some two years ago, say people who’ve visited country. The base camp was meant to be a "staging ground" for US troops before fall of Taleban in Afghanistan. All central Asian countries have long been cited to be particularly vulnerable to outside interference from greater powers, yet it’s unlikely that events we’ve seen this week in Kyrgyzstan were result of outside meddling. The last years, country has shown an ambivalence toward anything that reaks of hegemony. On one hand there has been fear that Russia would step up its influence and at same time people have wondered what would happen to them if Russian troops would leave. Kyrgyzstan is only country in Central Asian region to have very limited oil reserves –it pumps out 2,000 bpd- and as such it has escaped every foreign power with an interest in region. Just after fall of Soviet Union, an enormous discovery of oil reserves under Caspian Sea was made, which it was believed would put region on a par with Middle East in terms of oil reserves and would make it number one spot for natural gas in world. Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazachstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan mutually agreed to carve up rights to undersea reserves. The estimates however were somewhat exaggerated and region’s oil interests are of distinct yet not vital importance.
What is a Family?Written by Theresa Chaze
WHAT IS A FAMILY? BY THERESA CHAZE What is a family? Is it a man, a woman and their children? Or is it something more than just blood ties of traditional concept? Do adopted children qualify? Do stepparents? The current administration is trying to carve in stone their definitions of marriage and family by using their own narrow concept of life to turn back clock and to limit under what condition people may bond together. The changes began during WWII, when women were called to serve outside home. Suddenly they learned they were so much more than daughters, wives and mothers. They could be independent individuals, capable of making their own decisions about their lives. Suddenly they had their own money and careers. They didn’t have to marry to survive. When war ended, soldiers returned to a budding new breed of women. One who was more independent and unwilling to accept traditional, subservient role. This is when clash of wills and violence began to increase. Traditional families of fifties were patriarchies. The man led and controlled household. The wife and children were subservient to his wishes and demands. He alone made decisions and controlled household resources. He alone had all power. In this traditional concept of family, women’s only roles were that of daughter, mother, housekeeper and sexual toy. The children were considered property of father. Their futures were determined by his expectations. Sons followed in their father’s footsteps. Daughters were daughters until they became wives and ownership was transferred from father to husband; thus cycle continued. Husbands worked outside home. Wives were housekeepers and nursemaids. These were times when family secrets were kept. Abuse was wife’s fault and responsibility. Child abuses and molestation wasn’t talked about; it just existed. How could it be a crime for father to use his property any way he saw fit? If wife was unhappy, give her a pill. If children protested beat them into submission. Life was good for male part of population. Bad behavior was excused, “as boys will be boys”. Abuse, neglect, and abandonment were just accepted. For young women, life was not as rosy. Young women who got pregnant out of wed lock were either forced to quit school and marry or sent away in shame until child was born after which it was ripped from her arms. Job opportunities were limited and low paying. Women were confined to jobs that were beneath men both in status and pay; those who tried to step out of their roles were harassed and condemned. The sixties, seventies and eighties brought new freedoms not only educationally but also medically, socially, politically and intellectually. Education was not only promoted, but higher standards were expected. It was increasingly no longer acceptable to drop out. High school graduation became standard. New opportunities were created for those who chose to work for them. Technology brought new kinds of jobs and more challenges to old lifestyles. Medical advances in birth control allowed women to more fully control their bodies, giving them more financial and educational opportunities. In 1973, legalization of abortions gave women freedom to compete on equal grounds. The political climate started shifting from “good ole boys’ club” having total control to a more balanced system, which included women and non-whites. No longer were white men in total control of their families or their job opportunities. Suddenly they had to compete for jobs with those they considered beneath them. It was not as easy for sons to be accepted for employment because their fathers. In addition, jobs themselves became more technical and less manual labor. The old reliable manufacturing jobs suddenly became higher skilled and harder to find. Integration brought new understandings and new conflicts between cultures. Traditional values and bigotries suddenly were being questioned. “Because I said so” or “that’s way it’s always been done” were no longer acceptable answers. Those who chose to take advantage found more similarities than difference between cultures. Interracial relationships and marriages became not only legal but also acceptable. The tradition family found itself being redefined to include stepparents and stepchildren as divorce became more prevalent. With educational system and job market opening to them, women were no longer forced to stay in unhealthy relationships. In addition, legal and legislative systems recognized a woman’s right to control her sexual life. Husbands no longer had a right to sex on demand. Nor did a woman need to ask permission of her husband to attain birth control. On a professional level, women still were not achieving same status economically as their male counter parts. However more women were stepping out of their complacent roles and demanding equality it work place. Sexual harassment laws protected women from old tactics used to keep them in their “proper place”. In addition, women no longer accepted glass-ceiling place on them and started businesses of their own. Instead of being assets to established companies, they became resourceful competitors. The children of sixties and seventies questioned more of old values and beliefs. They found that many of their family teachings about religion, cultures and lifestyles to be incorrect or lacking. The more they learned, more they vocally challenged old guard. Refusing to accept limitations of their parents, they broke away. Demonstrations became common in sixties as young adults refused to blindly accept war and segregation. Advancements in educational opportunities gave them income standards far beyond past generations, making them more mobile and flexible in their lifestyles. Birth family ties were no longer their prime focus and clan mentally of previous generations began to die. Individuals could now explore their own desires sexually and spiritually. Alternative lifestyles which started as subcultures, rapidly grew into mainstream realities as new generations fought for their independence. The social upheaval of sixties, which turned into time of individual of seventies, blossomed into a reemergence of social acceptance of eighties. More people challenged taboos of past and more of old traditions fell by wayside. Men found they no longer had total control either in their homes or in job market. Suddenly they had to compete with women and non-whites for jobs and resources that had been their exclusive domain. No longer could they slide by on whom they knew to find work. Skills and education became qualifying factors in who was hired. Those who refused to update their skills were phased out. Domestic violence became more prevalent as men fought to retain control. However legal system had also begun to change, giving victims of abuse more rights and options. Spousal and child abusers started to be prosecuted to full extent of new laws. No longer could men hide behind marriage licenses to protect them from legal system as law enforcement found itself under scrutiny for its past blind eye to violence in home. No longer could officers walk away without finding themselves in legal troubles themselves. Child molestation became felonies with long prison terms instead of misdemeanors with short to no jail time. Through these three decades families and society in general became more accepting and equal to all its members.