Erich Follath and Christian Neef
Der Spiegel
October 11, 2010

In the wake of ethnic violence in June that killed almost 2,000 people, Kyrgyzstan has been plagued by violence and lawlessness. Now the country is to become the first parliamentary republic in Central Asia. But is it ready for democracy?

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Since the bloody four days of violence in June, the small tent city has been one of the main sources of news in Osh — from the Kyrgyz perspective, that is. Anyone wishing to hear the other side’s version of the truth has to drive two kilometers farther down the road to an Uzbek neighborhood like Shark.

Shark looks like it has recently been carpet-bombed. The district was completely burned down, with nothing but blackened foundation walls remaining where many buildings, including the schools, once stood. The Uzbeks in Shark blame the Kyrgyz.

According to official figures, more than 370 people died in the pogroms, when the Kyrgyz went on a rampage against the Uzbeks and the Uzbeks against the Kyrgyz. But the true figure is probably upwards of 2,000. More than 75,000 people fled to Uzbekistan. The news coming out of the city shocked people around the world.

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What happened in Osh? Why are no officials, including the mayor, the provincial administrator, the chief of police and the head of intelligence, willing to say how the killing began? Why are the newspapers avoiding the issue?

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