Kyrgyzstan 03.08.05

by Nathan Hamm on 3/8/2005 · 6 comments

[For the latest on the situation in Kyrgyzstan, visit our most recent roundup]

Ben Paarmann has a very useful map showing where the most recent Kyrgyz protests are located.

KelKel has a song. Dang, what other pro-democracy movement in the former USSR was it again that had one of those? Not that this is an earth-shattering development or anything, but it’s proof that KelKel is taking its cues from successful predecessors (I tried to work in a 100th monkey reference but couldn’t quite cram it in right). In fact, it’s interesting to cruise around their site and check out who they are linking to outside of the Kyrgyzstan. Hell, look at who they are linking to in Kyrgyzstan for a reminder of the relative health of civil society in the country (look at the bottom of this page too, even if you don’t know Russian). And while I’m on the topic of KelKel, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for them to have the English version of the page for those who don’t know Russian or Kyrgyz (or for those who are much better equipped for children’s books and restaurant menus like myself) but are concerned.

More in the extended.

MSN has a profile of Kurmanbek Bakiyev (in Russian), the former prime minister who is running to replace President Akayev. It’s important to remember that this guy was welcomed in Moscow by Security Council Secretary Sergei Ivanov recently. Russia is, we should not forget, hedging its bets, and opposition figures are letting Russia know that they view Russia as a valuable partner.

IRIN reports the continuing Jalalabad protests:

Daily life has been at a standstill in the provincial capital for four days after protesters wearing rose coloured bows and scarves occupied three storeys of the region’s main administration building. On windows left open, demands written on the same colour cloth calling for the country’s leadership to resign fluttered in the breeze, as did demands for a free and fair run-off election on 13 March. Orozaly Karasartov, a spokesman for the provincial governor, told IRIN that almost all officials in the building had left their offices.

While pink was the colour of the People’s Movement of Kyrgyzstan (PMK), uniting nine opposition parties and groups in the former Soviet republic, protesters were not rallying in favour of a particular candidate who failed, but rather against vote-fixing and election irregularities, movement activists told IRIN.

IWPR has more on the Jalalabad protests.

A high-ranking official who wished to remain anonymous told IWPR, “Why should we fuss about it? They are demonstrating there in exchange for money. When the money’s gone, they will go back home by themselves. When we introduce a state of emergency, the opposition will regret a hundred times that it started this political intrigue.”

The opposition denied it had paid anyone to rally on its behalf. Bektur Asanov, a former parliamentary deputy who lost on February 27, said people had come to Jalalabad to express their discontent. He believes the people of Kyrgyzstan have been victims of electoral fraud.

“My district has 34,000 people living there, but when they counted it up, it turned out that 41,000 people voted,” he said. “Seven thousand non-existent people were added to the lists. The people are definitely dissatisfied. But I did not call on the people to engage in civil war – that’s lies on the part of the authorities.”

Also from IRIN comes this report on adulation for increased minority representation in the new parliament. Which, I guess, whatever. I’m not terribly impressed by the formal appearance of inclusion when those included are those who are already fairly accepted by society and when the process by which those included came to power is fairly flawed in the first place. I would be much more impressed if, say, the Kyrgyz government didn’t toe the Han Chinese line on Uighurs and Falun Gong (which, with only 12 active members doesn’t make for an enormous human rights issue in Kyrgyzstan, but still…)

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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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Laurence March 8, 2005 at 9:22 am

Ben Paarmaan’s map is very interesting. I’m not an expert, but would hazard a guess that untill protests reach Bishkek, not too much will happen…

Nathan March 8, 2005 at 9:31 am

You’re probably right. Until right before the election the protests were only in Bishkek, which seemed to be a sign that the roots of anti-Akayev sentiment weren’t very deep. Then they moved to pretty much being significant everywhere but Bishkek which just seemed weird. The one protest from the past couple days not on his map is one near Issyk-kul.

It’s really not too surprising that protests would be strongest around Osh and Jalalabad. It’s always been less enthusiastic about the government in Bishkek. I’d love to know if the protesters are primarily Uzbek, primarily Kyrgyz, or fairly evenly distributed.

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