Cover Osteuropa 8/2014

In Osteuropa 8/2014
Teil des Dossiers Zentralasien

Hierarchy and Autonomy
On the Operation of Central Asia’s Security Establish-ments

Andreas Heinemann-Grüder

Deutsche Fassung


The power of security agencies in authoritarian regimes rests on a precarious balance between hierarchy and autonomy. Formally, they are embedded in a highly centralized structure: the president stands at the top, while powers are distributed according to function. In Central Asia, security agencies in fact enjoy a high degree of autonomy and compete with one another over the misappropriation and control of public and private resources. Even if many people in Central Asia have adapted to the corruption and repression of the security establishments, that in no way means that those authorities are legitimate; efforts to control public opinion, along with unfree and unfair elections, create illegitimate conditions of justification. The Islamist threat, which the Central Asian regimes use to justify their repression, is exaggerated and simultaneously fueled by the practices of their security agencies.

(Osteuropa 8/2014, pp. 27–48)