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New social media and conflict in Kyrgyzstan
Neil Melvin and Tolkun Umaraliev
SIPRI Insights on Peace and Security no. 2011/1

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During 2010 Kyrgyzstan experienced a conflict that took the country to the brink of civil war. The use of blogs, social network sites and multimedia platforms during the upheaval has led some observers to link developments in Kyrgyzstan to other recent cases of social protest where new media had been prominent, such as in Iran, Moldova, North Africa and the Middle East.

This paper examines the complex and shifting role of new media as a factor in the events of 2010 in Kyrgyzstan, focusing on the period from the bloody overthrow of President Bakiyev in April to the ethnic violence in the south of the country in June. The authors highlight specific social, economic, political and technical factors as shaping the influence of new media in situations of conflict.


I. Introduction
II. Telecommunications, media and politics
III. Political conflict breaks out in Bishkek
IV. Ethnic conflict breaks out in Jalalabad
V. New media in the post-conflict period
VI. Conclusions

About the authors

Neil Melvin (United Kingdom) has extensive experience both as a researcher and as a policy practitioner focusing on political and security developments in Central Asia. Prior to joining SIPRI he held Senior Adviser positions in the Energy Charter Secretariat and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. He has also worked at a variety of leading policy institutes in Europe. Dr Melvin has published widely on issues of conflict, with a particular focus on ethno-religious issues. He joined SIPRI as Director of the Programme on Armed Conflict and Conflict Management in May 2010.

Tolkun Umaraliev (Kyrgyzstan) currently coordinates Kyrgyzstani blogs at neweurasia.net, where he previously coordinated Uzbekistani blogs. He has a wide range of experience in areas such as development, human rights, international refugee protection, blogging and citizen media and has worked with an array of organizations, including Mercy Corps International, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Global Voices Online and Transitions Online. He has also worked with McClatchy newspapers, Al Jazeera English, AFP, the BBC, and Stars and Stripes.

Publisher: SIPRI
24 pp.
August 2011


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