by Nathan Hamm on 3/1/2005

Below is an interview with and a piece by Roza Otunbayeva. One from AKIpress is reproduced in whole because, well, I bet access will magically disappear if I don’t. The other is from Ferghana.ru.

What follows is about half of Otunbayeva’s translated article from Ferghana.ru. Please do read the whole thing. I’ve been somewhat critical of the Kyrgyz opposition in the past, but Otunbayeva looks to be setting herself up to be a unifier in the period between the parliamentary and presidential elections.

The opposition is frequently accused of import of “velvet revolutions”. That’s a deliberate misunderstanding. The authorities use the term “revolution” to instill fear in the population. We do not want any revolutions! As far as we are concerned, velvet revolutions are only acceptable when the matter concerns an ordinary democratic replacement of powers-that-be. We are after constitutional replacement of the powers-that-be in the country Akayev brought to the threshold of a political and economic crisis.

There are objective laws of political and social evolution. Wave of “velvet revolutions” swept over Central and East Europe and affected the Soviet Union in the late 1980’s. This tsunami was not to be stopped. We are seeing the second wave now. Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova – this movement cannot be stopped either. It is clear that this movement will continue in Kyrgyzstan in the period between parliamentary and presidential elections, i.e. between March and October. We are convinced that “velvet revolutions” topple and will go on toppling the corrupt regimes political scientists call “imitations of democracy”.

There is one other myth, the one concerning Western sponsors and political technologies that stand behind us and all opposition forces in other countries. In fact, Akayev is obsessed with it. He invented some “international structure” that orchestrated revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine and is coming to Kyrgyzstan now.

For some reason, nobody remembers the fact that Akayev himself has lived on Western loans and grants for 13 years now. Whenever some installment from the International Monetary Fund fails to turn up, the national budget finds itself grounded. Every ministry has foreign consultants and advisors on staff. Akayev himself had personal advisors appointed by international financial institutions for a decade.

There are no spheres of public or political life in Kyrgyzstan where Western money is not present. With the regime we have in Kyrgyzstan, Western loans and grants corrupted society. All our intelligentsia is involved in Western projects.

The opposition objects to this whole system. It cannot boast of a similar financial standing. On the other hand, I know for a fact that the West is with us, that it will help us with development of a democratic system.

From AKIpress:

Roza Otunbayeva: Kyrgyzstan has matured for the “velvet revolution”

– Roza Otunbaeva has answered questions of the BBC reporter Yuri Goligorsky

Roza Otunbaeva: … Members of the district election commission understood that it is very uneasy constituency and they could me register with documents, which I had. At the first time they voted for registration. But this very day, at night of Jan. 6, the members of the district election commission were collected and forced to carry out a repeated voting. And the same people, who voted for me several hours ago, voted against me this time. So my registration was cancelled. It is absolutely obvious political order.

BBC: You characterized this constituency (Universitetsky constituency) as uneasy because the daughter of the Kyrgyz President Akaev – Bermet also stands there?

R.O.: Yes I meant it.

BBC: How do you think, why Kirghizia recently considered as “island of democracy” in Central Asia, now very little differs from the neighbours?

R.O.: It was not a process of one day. Perhaps, since 1995-1996 “the soft authoritarianism” has been building in Kyrgyzstan. In those years, people required to give to Akaev a time for realization of his reforms. It was declared that peace and consent provided by him is so vital for the republic, that nobody should disturb him. I simply went to the aside. I have left for Britain …

BBC: you are co-chairman of the oppositional movement “Atajurt” (“Fatherland”). How you are going to inform the voter about your program? Do you have a program of actions or everything is constructed by a principle of personal hostility to a present authority?

R.O.: Why personal hostility? “Atajurt” is a pre-election block. We have strong economists, who developed a number of the serious offers. And we can offer the people such ideas and such programs, which can be followed by people. You know, our country is young, and we haven’t usual structure of political forces – one force in authority, another in opposition, as a result of a loss [at elections] and they change places. We have not reached British standards, we shall say so. Today [in Kyrgyzstan] authority doesn’t settle accounts with opposition …

BBC: Who finances “Atajurt”?

R.O.: We are self-financing organization. But we have local sponsors among businessmen ready to support us.

BBC: Someone supports you from abroad?

Ð.Î.: the authority accuses us of it… All economic activity in KR in many respects is a result of foreign donor activity. It concerns the present authority too, which criticizes us, naming us the agents of West…

BBC: Do you think Kirghizia has matured for “velvet” or “orange” revolution?

R. O.: I think that it absolutely has matured. I only want to bring in the significant amendment: we do not speak about revolution, but we speak about peace, quiet and constitutional transfer of authority in our republic. Revolution associated with blood and robbery, was not neither in Tbilisi, nor in Kiev. And it won’t be here. We, opposition, consider that the authority has no right to ignore the constitution, sit in their armchairs termless and prepare posts for their descendants. We shall not allow to build a monarchy in our civilized country.

Published with reductions

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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