Athletes – sportsmen, in local parlance – form the second type of networks. These groups are widely believed to engage in racketeering, money laundering, drug trafficking and fraud. Their leaders reportedly fund youth sports clubs, leisure facilities and private enterprises to attract crowds of young and unemployed men.At any rate, the violence also comes at an opportune moment, and givens another Central Asian state -- this time Kazakhstan -- a chance to take the lead in regional affairs:
Osh-based observers, speaking to EurasiaNet.org on condition of anonymity due to fear of repercussions, say that while various links between the two types of networks exist, the sportsmen-led networks do not have the same kind of clearly delineated hierarchy and strong code of conduct that exists in the prison networks. Sportsmen are also known to lend muscle to Kyrgyz political factions during protests, and to form groups along ethnic lines.
As Kazakhstan continues to promote its enhanced role in Eurasia and global affairs, it should clearly see that its OSCE chairmanship is both a challenge and an opportunity. Utilizing each other's capacities to address global and regional security threats, including by supporting reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in Kyrgyzstan, will position both Kazakhstan and the OSCE as serious actors in Central Asia, and particularly in Kyrgyzstan where no other entity appears willing to lead. Only this will reinforce the status of Kazakhstan's regional capabilities -- both perceived and real.