From democracy to autocracy? Growing threats to civil society and media in Kyrgyzstan
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Despite the repeal of the ‘foreign agent’ law in 2016 which was initiated in Kyrgyzstan to limit activities of human rights defenders, government officials still continue to oppress them by using other legislative restrictions. This idea contradicts the principles of a democratic country which stands for plurality of opinions. Recent intimidation and unlawful surveillance of human rights defenders and media representatives demonstrate that state officials can have a suspicious attitude and try to restrict their freedom of movement. According to given theories, the presence of active civil society and independence of media is important for the full functioning of democracy. Kyrgyzstan, being in the transition period, similarly to its neighbouring countries, uses tools to monopolise the important institutions. By using content analysis of published speeches of government representatives, human rights activists and media representatives the thesis reveals that the government continues to degrade the status of civil society by using disinformation as well as by misusing existent laws for their own profit to preserve the current regime. By examining hypotheses through correlation analysis, the study finds out that there is a strong relationship between active participation of civil society and media with the development of democracy. As a result, the more a country strives for democratic changes, the more effective the activity of the executive branch is. However, human rights itself has weak negative correlation with democratic development. It can be explained by the fact that when civil society takes more action against the government, autocratic rulers allow more human rights violations. Thus, this work demonstrates that although the Kyrgyz government continues to preserve democratic values and meet universal human rights principles, the recent cases show that these statements can be regarded only as a facade, as it is in the interest of the government to limit political mobilisation to maintain the current regime.