Since the political events in early 2005, which culminated in the fleeing of President Askar Akaev and his subsequent replacement by Kurmanbek Bakiev, there has been an upsurge in direct action taken by informal groups within Kyrgyzstan’s society to promote the interests of their members.
This study takes an in-depth look into two such groups, both of which have largely succeeded in meeting their goals. The first of these is the ‘Union for the Protection of Railway Workers’ which registered as a trade union in 2004, and became involved in an acrimonious dispute with the management over recognition of their union and pay in 2005-2006. The second of these is an informal group, headed largely by women from rural areas, who occupied land of dubious ownership in Bishkek.
This paper will look at the range of strategies the groups employed to try to fulfil their aims, as well as their relationships with other sectors of civil society and government structures. The study is largely based on four interviews carried out with actors involved in the disputes, and on the Early Warning Bulletins of Foundation for Tolerance International.