Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan – Support for joining Russia’s Customs Union has dropped, a Kyrgyzstan poll(PDF) released today by IRI found. The poll also found the country faces significant challenges in fighting corruption, although there are positive gains for women and ethnic minorities.
Support for Joining Russia’s Customs Union Drops Despite Government Push for Accession
Support for joining Russia’s Custom Union dropped 13 points from IRI’s February 2013 poll, and is now supported by just less than half of respondents (49 percent). Twenty-one percent strongly disapprove of joining the union, up from just 10 percent.
Despite diminishing public support to join Russia’s Customs Union, the Kyrgyz government recently approved a roadmap to accession and announced its decision to send a working group to Russia to finalize plans for Kyrgyzstan’s entry to the Customs Union. These developments have sparked small protests from groups that claim Kyrgyzstan’s entry will deprive the country of its independence. Members of parliament are scheduled to meet with constituents from May 12 to 16 to discuss the Customs Union, ahead of the parliamentary hearings on Kyrgyzstan’s accession on May 20.
Corruption Remains Pervasive Problem
Since April 2010, when a series of protests led to the ouster of increasingly authoritarian President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, Kyrgyzstan has taken many strides in building a democracy. However, on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the 2010 revolution, impediments to democratic development are still pervasive.
Ninety-six percent of Kyrgyz residents believe corruption to be a large problem in Kyrgyzstan, with 91 percent of respondents identifying traffic police, police and universities as the most corrupt institutions in the country. Despite the high level of corruption, only 13 percent of respondents believe the Kyrgyz government is doing enough to fight corruption – leaving 77 percent who believe the government’s actions to fight corruption are insufficient.
Most Have Positive View of Progress on Human Rights
Despite challenges facing democratic development, the majority of residents hold positive opinions regarding the respect for the rights of women and ethnic minorities. Eighty-six percent of respondents feel positively about women’s rights in the business sector, 84 in women’s freedom of religion and 82 percent political and social life.
Further, 64 percent of respondents feel that the state protects citizens’ rights on equal grounds, regardless of ethnicity. In particular, 40 percent of ethnic Uzbeks, who were the main ethnic minority group victimized during the 2010 violence, feel that the state protects their rights on equal grounds with other ethnicities.
The poll was conducted in all regions of Kyrgyzstan from February 4-21, 2014, with a randomly selected sample of 1,500 permanent residents of Kyrgyzstan 18 years and older who are eligible to vote. The margin of error does not exceed plus or minus 2.5 percent, and the response rate was 64 percent.