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New Social Media and Conflict in Kyrgyzstan

Publisher: SIPRI
August, 2011

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


Dr Neil John Melvin was a Senior Researcher working on the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean Security.