brief election observations

October 26, 2011 · 4 comments

in daily life, Kyrgyzstan

I’ve tried my best in recent weeks to stay informed about the candidates running for president in Kyrgyzstan’s upcoming election. It’s proven difficult, as there are 20+ candidates at the moment. Plus there’s the language barrier; despite my still-horrible-but-much-improved Russian skills, a lot of campaigning is done in Kyrgyz in what I suspect is a means to appeal to nationalist ideals.

So here are my completely meaningless observations about the upcoming elections. Campaigns began a month ago and Bishkek is thoroughly covered in posters and billboards. I don’t have a TV, but I suspect there are plenty of campaign commercials as well.

I observed an election volunteer struggle for 15 minutes to explain that the piece of paper he knocked on my door to give me noted the location I should go to vote on October 30. When I finally understood, I observed that he didn’t realize that as I’m not a citizen of Kyrgyzstan, I’m not allowed to vote and the whole explanation was a waste of time.

I’ve observed that Adahan Madumarov (a Southern favorite) has a campaign slogan (at the end of this commercial), “К очищению, к объединению, к возрождению,” that means (according to Google Translate), “For purification, to unite, to revive.” That makes me a bit uncomfortable.

I’ve observed that Kamchibek Tashiev, another favorite from the South, can’t seem to keep any of his fliers posted in Bishkek for long before becoming inexplicably shredded.

If I remember correctly, it was his party (Ata Jurt) that held a rally in Osh last February that was well stocked with municipal workers and university students that were forced to be there.

I’ve observed that there’s only one other candidate that really matters. On the day that campaigns were legally allowed to start, posters for Almazbek Atambaev flew up all over town. He had the only campaign billboard on Chuy for at least a week before his competitors caught up. Teenage volunteers have been knocking on our apartment and office to hand out Atambaev-themed newspapers (in Kyrgyz, of course).

I’ve observed that the ban on foreign TV has not affected how I get knowledge about the candidates or any events related to their campaigns (like if they pay a website to run a positive story about a two-person political rally). It has affected how I get knowledge of breaking news events that I would’ve really liked to have watched on BBC rather than waiting for websites to get their act together. Qaddafi’s capture and death was a nuisance to keep track of on Twitter.

And I’ve observed that I’m just not that interested in immersing myself in any political debates on Kyrgyzstan’s future leader at the moment. I’m waist-deep in a project on Tajikistan’s telecommunications system (who knew it was such a clusterf**k?) and haven’t had time or patience for much outside of that topic besides baking and taking pictures of myself donning a mohawk (I’ll post those soon). I’ve also been writing for other websites, which I’ll (hopefully) link to soon as well.

Voting takes place this Sunday, October 30. I have my guesses about who will win *cough*Atambaev*cough*, but let’s wait and see what happens.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 kalys.osmonov October 27, 2011 at 11:50 am

I think Madumarov meant purification of corruption but anyway slogan sounds nationalistic.

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2 Tami October 27, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Sounds about as interesting as our Republican Debates! lol Can’t wait to see the mohawk pix.

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3 Teri Styers (Farrell's mom) October 30, 2011 at 8:26 pm

explain the ban on foreign TV? Are you saying that satellite dishes can’t pick up the BBC? or that satellite dishes aren’t allowed? How does the ban work? And why can’t you go to the BBC online?

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4 Kirstin October 31, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Publicly, the government banned foreign TV to prevent voters from being unfairly influenced by foreign ideas (because, you know, the international media spends so much time analyzing the Kyrgyz elections). The guy that really pushed for the ban was burned pretty bad after a Russian channel started reporting negatively about him, then he ended up doing poorly in last year’s election. The ban was mainly focused on preventing negative campaigns from the Russian TV stations, but they couldn’t ban the Russian ones without the English ones. Satellite dishes can pick it up, but we don’t have a satellite dish.

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