Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 12/2011

New social media and conflict in Kyrgyzstan

Neil Melvin, Tolkun Umaraliev

August 2011

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute


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.