Just a few years ago, Kyrgyzstan was considered a potential model for Western democracy in the ex-Soviet Union. Now, with Russian increasing its hold on the former Cold War satellite, a series of brutal killings and anti-American policy decisions have observers worrying about a backslide into Putin-influenced autocracy. The country is currently clashing with the U.S. by forcing America to give up a military base considered crucial to resupplying troops in Afghanistan. And after top critics of the Kyrgyz government began to suffer unfortunate ends in prison or the morgue, a journalist investigating the cases and their ties to Russia, Syrgak Abdyldayev, was beaten and stabbed 26 times. One former Kyrgyz official who talked with the Wall Street Journal about the increasing Russian domination of the government was found dead in a burning car days later.