The official total number of recorded crimes in Kyrgyzstan has stayed within norms between 31,000- 27,000 during 2006-14, with the notable exception of the 2010 unrest where it climbed to 35,000. The total number fluctuates throughout the period, but in 2014 crime was at its lowest.
The number of violent crimes (Murder, Assault) has diminished, while rape numbers have stayed level. The only crimes that have become more prevalent in 2014 are hooliganism, fatal traffic accidents, fraud and corruption which have all seen small increases.
However, the figures should be treated as guidelines as overall the police are unreliable. Corruption, lack of expertise and being undervalued has resulted in the police itself being accused of incompetence and at its worst involved in criminal activity. As a result, the figures for the number of crimes are likely inaccurate.
Major Areas of Concern
Southern Borders - Osh and Batken provinces – Presence of Organised Crime and Terroristactivity
Urban Areas – Regular pickpocketing & occasional violent mugging of foreigners
Countrywide - Corruption from local to senior levels
Although violent crime statistics has shown a fall in recent years it still poses a threat, although it is relatively uncommon. There have been reports of foreigners being targeted in violent muggings in Bishkek at night, as foreigners are perceived to have greater wealth than locals.
So be prepared for moving around the city at night and make sure you do not find yourself isolated in an unfamiliar location at night. Use registered taxi services that our radio dispatched and avoid unmarked cabs.
Pick-pocketing and theft is common particularly in crowded public places such as bazaars, markets, internet cafes and public transport.
As a result, make sure that your valuables are secured safely if on your person. Preferably travel as a group to prevent yourself being isolated.
Corruption is rife throughout the country and as a result your experience with authorities particularly with vary significantly. Police and security forces are poorly paid, badly equipped and often corrupt, using informal stops or bribes to supplement their insufficient income. The likelihood of the police speaking English is highly unlikely and they will either use Russian or Kyrgyz to converse with the authorities.
All visitors have to register with local authorities, it is common for hotels to do this however make sure that you are registered to minimalise the chance of being stopped and questioned. Also make sure you have the relevant identification papers (visa, passport and copies) on you at all times.
It is advised if you are detained or harassed you should contact your respected embassy or consulate as soon as possible. Make sure before following commands given by forces that they have identification.
Drug Trafficking and Organised Crime
Due to Kyrgyzstan’s geographical position the country has become a significant drug smuggling corridor for heroin and opiates out of Afghanistan and into Russia and onto the international market. Due to the lack of a healthy balanced economy the lucrative drug trade has strongly established itself in the country. Particularly as the government often turns a blind eye to the drug trades activities.
This activity has led to the growth of organised crime which is strongly rumoured to have connections to government. Although it is also suggested that radical Islamic groups are also using the trade as a significant source of revenue. Due to the overarching integration of the drug network into everyday life and the large revenues it creates it makes drug trafficking one of the most severe threats faced by the Kyrgyz government. As the drug money breeds corruption, supports terrorism and leads to the proliferation of organised crime.
An odd quirk of drug smuggling in Kyrgyzstan is that although the industry has permeated throughout the country there has not been a significant rise in drug related violent crime. This further adds support to the theory of government involvement, as powerful groups will monopolise certain areas and do not threaten each other’s activity, which is the exact opposite of other narco-states El Salvador and Honduras.
In any case the porous borders of Kyrgyzstan should be avoided, as well as the southern provinces of Batken and Osh, These provinces as the most economically undeveloped and as a result the drug trade has set down strong roots.