Adolescents run extortion rackets and intimidate younger schoolmates. The death of a schoolboy at the hands of his peers has highlighted the widespread nature of gang culture in Kyrgyzstan’s school system.
The boy, who was in the ninth grade at a village school in Kok-Oy in the Naryn region, was knocked unconscious and later died following a brawl between pupils from his year and those in the 11th grade.
Police have taken one of the older boys into custody as the principal suspect, although the victim’s mother believes several others were also involved.
Bullying and extortion are endemic in the schools, and nowadays often takes the harder-to-spot form of forcing others to buy something or top up mobile phone, rather than demanding hard cash.
It is a longstanding problem. Back in 2009, IWPR reported on a case where a pupil’s death led to a trial which focused public attention on the issue. (See Adolescent Crime Blights Kyrgyz Schools.)
Mirlan Kadyrov is a journalist in Kyrgyzstan.
This audio programme went out in Russian and Kyrgyz on national radio stations in Kyrgyzstan. It was produced under two IWPR projects, Investigative Journalism to Promote Democratic Reform, funded by the European Union; and Strengthening Capacities, Bridging Divides in Central Asia, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the EU or the Norwegian government.