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Photo: “Visit to Kyrgyzstan 04,” by President of the Russian Federation licensed under CC Attribution 4.0. Hue is modified from the original.

Abdoubaetova, Aigoul. “Making sense of conservative narratives in Kyrgyzstan: the case of illiberal public activists.” East European Politics (2022): 1-20.


In recent years, we observe the growth of illiberal discourses in Kyrgyzstan. Illiberal public activists are particularly active in engaging with the Kyrgyz-speaking population and spreading conservative values. This paper studies the narratives of illiberal public activists and reveals three main trends in their speeches: promoting strong anti-western sentiments; combining Kyrgyz traditional values and ethnic identity with the religious doctrines for a bigger impact; and actively using digital and social media and focusing on youth and informal education as their main strategies in promoting illiberal thoughts. This paper argues that promotion of conservative ideas by the Kyrgyz-speaking illiberal public activists is a home-grown process, not directly influenced by Russian illiberal propaganda. It is a result of evolving re-traditionalisation, growth of religious values and anti-westernism.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.