Pavel Dyatlenko | Institute for War and Peace Reporting
I was born in 1985 in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. Both my parents are engineers by occupation which is different from the route I chose, first for my education and then for my profession.
They did not show much enthusiasm when, at the age of 17, I applied to study history at Kyrgyz-Russian Slavonic University, the most prestigious in the country. The subject of history is not popular these days in Kyrgyzstan where everyone seems to dream of becoming a lawyer or an economist. But mine was a conscious choice as I wanted to pursue it as a career and to continue the tradition set by my grandparents on both sides who were in teaching.
My university years from 2002 to 2007 coincided with important political developments in in Kyrgyzstan’s history, including the Tulip revolution of 2005, a popular unrest that ousted the country’s authoritarian president Askar Akaev from power. These events cemented my interest in political history and prompted me to go into academic research.
Following graduation, I stayed with the university where I applied for PhD and completed it in December 2010.
While studying for my degree, I also took part in the two-year-programme run by the Soros Foundation in Kyrgyzstan known as the school for future elite. It gave me a taste for conducting independent research and an interest in taking part in public activities. This was a substantial contribution to furthering my career.
So it can be said that I came into journalism indirectly through my interest in politics. I started to write for IWPR in 2009 and it was a good opportunity for me to publish analytical reports and comments on the political situation in Kyrgyzstan.
The advantage of writing for an international media organisation as opposed to publishing in the local media is that in an IWPR-commentary you can express your view – provided it is well argued - even if it does not coincide with the opinion dominating the debate at home.
Articles I am particularly proud of are my commentary on the roots of interethnic conflict in southern Kyrgyzstan in June last year (Addressing Roots of Conflict in Kyrgyzstan) and a piece on the the country’s new constitution that paved the way for parliamentary democracy in Kyrgyzstan - the first country in Central Asia to replace a presidential system with a parliamentary one (Kyrgyz Constitution is Central Asia’s Finest).
My experience with IWPR helped to establish my name as an analyst on Kyrgyz politics. It was pleasing to see that people and especially experts in various fields were interested to hear my view – it was the best acknowledgement of my professional ability.
Following my article on roots of the interethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan, I was interviewed on how to overcome causes and legacies of the conflict commissioned by Central Eurasia Project run by the Open Society Foundations. The project is aimed at promoting social and human rights through campaigns using policy research.
As a result of the IWPR analysis, I was also invited on the eve of the parliamentary elections last October to take part in a political show on Azattyk TV, a television programme run by Kyrgyz Service of RFE/RL in Bishkek.
On several occasions, I was interviewed as an expert for Voice of America radio programmes.
Putting together an analytical report is not without its challenges – some topics are too sensitive and others are too politicised making it difficult to present a clear-cut picture from a neutral point of view. Sometimes, sources refuse to be quoted openly out of fear for their safety.
Reporting about events in Kyrgyzstan - which over the last several years has been experiencing a lot of political upheaval - puts additional responsibility on a journalist. But I feel that my background as a historian and researcher has helped my journalistic work.
It has improved my ability to interpret complex political processes taking place in Kyrgyzstan and brought me professional recognition. Another thing that journalism gives me is that it makes me feel right in the middle of current events.