Bakiev Pushes Back & Photos of the Protests

by Nathan Hamm on 11/8/2006 · 2 comments

All photos copyright Teo Kaye. Used with permission.

Yesterday it looked like tensions might be reducing, but today it seems like Bakiev and Kulov have gotten their legs back.

Not only have the pro-Bakiev crowds been growing in Bishkek, but protests have also been popping up in the South (via Sean Roberts). According to reports, 5,000 rallied in Bakiev’s support in Jalalabad, 2,000 did in Batken, and 10,000 gathered in Osh. Interfax places the number in Osh at 22,000, and report that the protesters demand the dismissal of the parliament, the punishment of opposition leaders, and a referendum on the constitution. RFE/RL reports that there was also a pro-government rally in Talas.

Kyrgyz Report has information on the growth of pro-government crowds in Bishkek, mentioning that Bakiev’s supporters claim that Askar Akaev is behind the opposition protests. And not only are they saying that, state television is airing PSAs making the claim.

Those coming out for the government are reportedly compensated for their trouble. A normal protester gets 300 som per day, a leader of a group of 10 gets 500, while a chief overseeing 10 group leaders gets 700.

The nature of the counter-protests pulls back the veil and reveals that many of the Kyrgyzstan’s politically active citizens are not terribly interested in the merits and demerits of various ways of dividing government powers between the executive and legislative branches of government. Going back to 2005, when Akaev was still running the show, the initial protests following the parliamentary elections were far from Bishkek and appeared to be most fundamentally concerned with making sure that local candidate be given the seats that had been won by Akaev’s favored candidates. And I have a sneaking suspicion that many of those protesting against Bakiev are first and foremost interested in weakening the power of the southerner running the show while those out supporting Bakiev want to protect their power. Some confirmation of the regionalism at play can also be seen in Bakiev’s dismissal of the Chui Oblast governor, a (fairweather) supporter of the opposition.

In each case, many of those leading the anti-government protests seem genuinely committed to democratization of Kyrgyzstan, and if the draft constitution is passed, they will have achieved something that will hopefully have a positive impact on Kyrgyz politics. However, if Bakiev is objecting to certain points of the draft (which still seems fairly presidential) in order to buy time to mobilize his supporters, the compromise may collapse.

More commentary and reports at:

Many more photos below.

Photos of the Pro-Bakiev Protesters

Anti-Bakiev Protesters

The Security Forces

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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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Brian November 8, 2006 at 7:23 pm

A constitution seems to have been approved, the protests are all but over and the military and police didn’t seem to take sides in the dispute. All in all, not bad for a struggling low-income post-communist country. For now.

Laurence November 9, 2006 at 4:20 am

Nathan, Thank you for your continuing posts on the situation…

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