Speculation, Rumors, and Rebellion

by Nathan Hamm on 3/21/2005 · 7 comments

For the all the news on Kyrgyzstan, click on Manas.

As noted yesterday, the southern cities of Jalalabad and Osh are beyond the control of Bishkek. Akayev’s whereabouts are unknown.

See page one for news, page two for Osh photos, and page three for Jalalabad photos. Update: News from the ground via Ben Paarmann on page four.

I should note that the photos are about the strongest argument I’ve seen for the opposition making a concerted effort to provide stronger leadership and restrain protesters.

Here’s the latest news:

Osh’s protests have grown (Ferghana.ru):

Alisher Saipov and Gordiyenko report that several thousands of residents of the nearby Dzhalalabad region of Kyrgyzstan joined the rally about 30 minutes ago. The protesters currently in the square number approximately 15,000 people. There are lots of foreign correspondents in the crowd.

Osh police have also sworn allegiance to the protesters (Ferghana.ru):

“All senior officials of the Osh police and National Security Service came to the rally of their own volition. They intend to address the rally,” Gordiyenko told Ferghana.Ru news agency by phone. “They will swear allegiance to the people several minutes from now in the gesture indicating that they have taken up with the insurgents.”

RIA reports that the Osh airport has been seized

Speculation that Akayev has left the country started after he failed to make a Navruz appearance:

As soon as the first suspicions that Askar Akayev was abroad appeared (and the president has not addressed the nation yet), general public began waiting for the Navruz – the day when the national leader always appears in public. It did not happen yesterday, when the events in the Dzhalalabad region were under way, or today.

All of that enables the opposition to maintain that the president fled the country.

Though no one has seen him around, Akayev has called for a probe into the election as the opposition starts to feel its strength (RFE/RL):

Akaev defended the recent election results. But he said through his press office today that the Central Election Commission should look into the matter involving disputed regions.

The statement said officials are to pay particular attention to those districts where election results provoked demonstrators.

We’ll see how that develops…

Russia is expressing concern, and in a way that I kind of support.

“Actions that overstep the legal framework escalate tensions, have a negative effect on the political situation and deserve condemnation,” the statement says.

“During the February 27 and March 13 parliamentary elections, the majority of citizens supported peace, harmony and the continuation of socio-economic reforms,” the statement says.

The ministry sees “nothing extraordinary in the fact that not everyone is satisfied with the election results

That’s a pretty surprising statement from Russia, and not too different from the US position. It’s certainly a much more responsible position than that from Ukraine’s charge d’affaires (for which he has been recalled).

RIA has an at-times strange commentary from Pyotr Goncharov. He does call for a negotiated settlement though.

Update: See Brian for a couple good links. Also check out these photos (which, incidentally, Ben had emailed to me).

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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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Mitch H. March 21, 2005 at 12:49 pm

Yeah, when you see photos of rioters chasing a platoon of soldiers down a hill, you know the situation is out of control.

And when there are buildings on fire in the background, I’d say your “protest” have become functionally indistinguishable from “a riot”.

Ben March 21, 2005 at 1:00 pm

Good point. I was a bit shocked by the pictures I got sent by a friend of mine some while ago. Some of these guys don’t look like the prototypes of democrats… I really hope that there won’t be any more violence. I do really believe though that the violent crowds are a minority.

RighteousBiche March 21, 2005 at 2:41 pm

We’re in Paris since Friday! My holiday is being ruined as my husband has been glued to akipress for three days! Have you seen Russian coverage of this? It’s all mounted by a bunch of terrorists, you know!

Nathan March 21, 2005 at 2:47 pm

God bless the Russian press! It makes for such good entertainment. But really, if one knows how to read it, it does often provide information that isn’t anywhere else.

Mitch is right though, and I’m a little disappointed to see that Otunbayeva and Imanaliev don’t plan on negotiating (see the stories Brian linked). The protesters need strong, responsible leaders. Bakiyev plans to negotiate though.

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