Dispatches from Kyrgyzstan

by Nathan Hamm on 3/11/2005 · 3 comments

For the latest on Kyrgyzstan, click on Manas.
Ben has sent along more updates from employees of NGOs in Kyrgyzstan. Be sure to visit Thinking-East.Net as well.

Here is yesterday’s dispatch. Page 1 contains news Ben receives from people on the ground. Page 2 has reports from the media.

First is another situation report from the Kyrgyz NGO employee in yesterday’s report. Note the fake money story to tie into the government’s explanation that protesters are only out because they are being paid.

Situation in Kochkor:

Turdakun Usubaliev, 86-years-old “person on duty”, appealed district election comission’s decision that elections were not admitted because 62% voted for “None of the candidates”. CEC head commented that there were many cases in Kochkor that needed to be investigated, in particular Japarov’s people (candidate who was taken off the race) active agitation among voters to vote for none. Further info on the elections here will be cleared depending on the decision of court.


Ishenbai Kadyrov has been officially “bereaved” his right to compete in the second tour. People are a bit aggressive, yesterday there was a physical clash between protesters and militia. [1 women injured, 40 arrested and later released]. Kadyrov now is calling people vote for


I feel I’m entrapped in journalist’ desire to make things bigger 🙂

…actually there were some conflicts before the elections on Feb 27, but they are not sure about today. I searched news, but could not find anything solid. [Mr.Akaev is from Kemin, where his son has won the mandate, Mrs. Mairam Akaeva is from Talas, her sister and a relative are trying to get into parliament from that region
at the moment].


Hope Kel Kel can give you something interesting. from news I’ve learnt only that four journalists who came to Jalal Abad from Bishkek were caught by unknown people who came out of protesters crowd, driven to furniture factory, where Bakiev’s office was located and locked in one of the rooms there. They were released by police. I suspect it is one of the tricks of government. Earlier, one guy working in his office reported that he was told to print false money with ordinary comp and printer (it was shown on the news), when he was caught by militia. It
was just a show aimed at deceiving people. Can’t they understand that by this they are just aggravating people’s resentment?

Bishkek – ?

There are signs in some places like “Alga-Kyrgyzstan and Bermet – war!!!” I’ll try to find a picture of that and send it to you as well.

Yesterday about 20 deputies of third convocation which is still active held extraordinary meeting, which is not enough legitimate. The JK [Jogurku Kenesh–the parliament] building was encircled with guards. Deputies were not let in, beacause of the “repair” works which was not planned at all. There were mainly opposition deputies (most of them lost in first tour), who criticized governments actions and decided to create National Unity movement
consisting of political parties, blocks, deputies, NGOs opposition leaders and ordinary citizens. Yesterday its Coordination council has been formed, its chairman is Bakiev. They stand for resignation of president, pre-term presidential elections, cancellation of Feb 27 elections and conduct parliamentary elections.

Everybody is trying to pull the blanket on oneself. Unification is declared everywhere, but actually it doesn’t go beyond one’s region, one’s interest, one’s ideology. No real unity that stands for whole nation. Why? too strong control? no money? not-interested people? dependence on someone who tells what to do? no belief that you’ll get what you beg? why stay passive? “delay kills the opportunity”…


[Yesterday Imanbaev, head of CEC, at a press conference informed that there are 267 candidates going to fight for votes in second tour. (my comment: in 42 districts).]

And, from an NGO Worker in Osh come the following bits of information. Keep in mind that some of this is conjecture or rumors that are flying around (though rumors are often the most reliable media outlet in this neck of the woods). Apparently gerrymandering is used all over the world…

I think I understand what Markus Muller meant, a lot of people here suspect those demonstrators to be paid to be out there and it’s hard to assess whether they’re for real. This whole election was bound to have some ‘colour revolution’ elements in it, opposition leaders had been clamouring for that all along, but I’m not sure if there is enough mass unrest to spark off a Georgian or Ukrainian-style revolution. Many locals here say that the real question is whether Akaev is going to stand again in October or if he’ll keep his promise and resign. As I was
told this morning, he’s already probing for support in Osh oblast for a popular referendum to extend his mandate.

In Osh I know that one candidate (Alisher Sabirov) just bullied and bribed the police and judiciary until all other candidates in his district were excluded from the poll, so that he became the only candidate. That seriously undermined the motivation of a lot of people in this district to go and vote. Read the OSCE electoral observer mission report on www.osce.org/odihr, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

An interesting rayon is Uzgen, that’s where things are really weird in terms of ethnic relations. While the town is majority Uzbek, its electoral district borders are gerrymandered in such a way that the majority Uzbeks are split in 3 parts and ‘smeared out’ over majority Kyrgyz rural areas. All of Uzgen’s deputy candidates are ethnic Kyrgyz, which is really odd.

Interestingly, a demonstration against Akaev just walked through my street. Apparently there’s a rally going on in front of the government palace at the central square (at Lenin’s feet). Stupidly enough I just walked through half the city and didn’t notice any unrest, turns out they were walking right in front of my office, ha. Ironic.

It seems that I can’t get into Jalalabat tomorrow, we can’t get on the phone to our office there, and the police might have sealed off the city, or so we’ve been told.

He also mentions that there are more police and soldiers out in Osh than there are protesters.

Courtney Calvin, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Osh has posted about the election:

Campaign tactics are reminiscent of Daly’s Chicago, or even Pendergast’s Kansas City. They have a unicameral legislature with a multi-party system. The president’s party at times seems to be more machine than party. Fights and protests tend to breakout whenever there is a strong opponent to the president’s man.

A few women have ventured into politics here, but very few. Most people just vote so that they can get their 100 som. One volunteer reports that a mob erupted at a polling site near his house and 1,000 people didn’t get to vote. They were apparently more concerned that they didn’t get their fee for voting. They say that Kyrgyz are very honest, they always vote for the person from whom they collect money.

The other day, while visiting Jalalabad, I heard the roar of a crowd. A little while later, while walking by the government administration building, I saw the lawn covered with people waving pink flags and banners. Ukraine had its Orange Revolution, and Kyrgyzstan I guess is having the pink revolution. Well, in Jalalabad anyway.

She also has a little more to say about Jalalabad and Kochkor.

Visit Page 2 for media reports

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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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One Eyed Cat March 11, 2005 at 2:00 pm

Great stuff. I’ll definitely get cracking after my break. These are glorious times.


D.B. Light March 11, 2005 at 7:05 pm

Nice going guys — keep up the good work.

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