Friday, March 25, 2005

An Update on the Situation in Kyrgyzstan

As I explained in my previous post, one of my friends is currently in Bishkek to conduct research for a doctoral dissertation on conflict resolution. She had a front seat to the latest political developments there. She shared the following update with me, which I am in turn posting for your information.

"Yesterday afternoon there was a sort of a bloodless coup here, as you already know by now. The opposition took over the White House, which is the main government building here. Some stores are closed, though I can't tell whether this is out of fear of the instability or whether it is a show of "strike" solidarity with the protesters. Otherwise, everything seems quite calm. [my translator's] father, who had been downtown, said there was quite a bit of fighting overnight. But, things are completely quiet in my neighborhood and we heard no sirens overnight.

One of the problems during the elections here in February and March was that the government controlled all 3 TV stations as well as the radio(the only independent radio station was shut down by the government before the elections). However, yesterday afternoon one of the TV stations changed sides and made their studios totally available to the opposition movement. First, the TV people came on and apologized to the public for having given biased reporting and for having lied under government pressure. Then, they spent the rest of the evening broadcasting programs featuring opposition people.

On TV, the opposition people said that they had not intended to take over the White House yesterday, but only to hold a meeting. However, aggression on the part of government agitators so inflamed the crowd that it surged onto the White House grounds and overwhelmed the police there, who put down their equipment and either joined the protestors or fled. From what I saw myself yesterday, there was aggression on both sides. Following this there were some incidents of window breaking - particularly of a large store downtown - and other destruction nearby, which the opposition leaders pleaded with people to stop. After taking the White House, opposition supporters freed Felix Kulov, a key opposition leader who had been in prison off and on for the past 5 years on reportedly spurious charges. All last night, opposition leaders repeatedly talked about this being a historic day in Kyrgyzstan and how everyone must remain orderly and begin immediately to work toward the future.

They talked about doing everything according to law and the constitution (except, I suppose, what they themselves have already accomplished by taking over the government and freeing Kulov). There were definitely some rowdy guys in the opposition crowd yesterday, but most people were responsible and I believe the level-headed people are managing things now.

Regarding the government itself, as of last night, President Akaev was not in evidence and the Prime Minister, Tanaev, had resigned. There were rumors that deposed President Akaev had already left the country and a Chinese news source (Xinhua) reported that Akaev has gone to Almaty. Last night the 2 remaining state controlled TV stations were avoiding all news broadcasts and showing movies and MTV instead, so there were no official pronouncements from the government, as far as we could tell.

Reactions here are mixed. People such as my roommate/translator who were strongly pro-opposition are ecstatic. Others, families such as [a friend's], seemed frightened when I spoke with them last night. [a friend's] relatives are Akaev supporters but I never see them any more so I don't know how they're dealing with this situation.

For news, I would recommend the following two sites:



I just checked some other new sources and want to reassure you that looting has NOT engulfed Bishkek. That is sensationalism. Things in my part of town are very quiet."


Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

I wonder how events will develop from now on. Will the opposition bring democracy or simply a new kind of dictatorship?

March 25, 2005

Blogger Jawad said...

It remains to be seen Irina. I asked my friend to provide me with some more information about:

(1) The expressed intent of the opposition, their political agenda, and who their leaders really are.

(2) How Russia fits in all of this

(3) The implications of this on the rest of Central Asia (the Stan Countries)

I think it is a story to be followed very closely. Kyrgyzstan is an interesting case. It is an ex-soviet republic so it has that in common with Georgia and the Ukraine (where similar protests forced Russian-backed govts out). But it is also, along with other Central Asian countries, culturally different. It is a Muslim country so what happens in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East also affects it.

March 25, 2005

Blogger Khalij-Khazar said...

Akaev, prior to the elections, changed the kyrgz constitution to ensure his and his family safety within the country.
I guess all of that has done little to protect him from what has partaken now.
His daughter and his son, along with many other members of his "family" were running in this past election. They must have known that the kyrgz people are not stupid enough to let their nation be dominated by these people.
I find that the best source for central asian news is: http://www.eurasianet.org/
check it out

March 25, 2005

Blogger Jawad said...

Thank you for the additional information on Kyrgyzstan Khalij and welcome to my Blog.

I think the arrogance of power often obstructs the view of some of trhe simplest and most obvious realities. Akaev has just found that out...though much too late as is always the case.

March 27, 2005


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