Bishkek : Party’s over, for now

by Teo on 4/19/2007 · 7 comments

Bishkek’s Ala-Too square has been cleared of almost all traces of the opposition tent city after clashes with riot police. Depending on whose reports you read, the violence was instigated by government thugs lobbing rocks or the opposition protestors. At the square however, shopkeepers I talked to claim their windows were smashed by riot police, with reports of 1,000 strong gangs of provocateurs bussed in from the south.

It remains to be seen how western media will decry this as a blow to regional democracy initiatives and if the opposition will be cowed into submission. A number of protestors wandering around the square with mattresses insisted that a regrouping tomorrow would happen, while also suggesting that they might not live to see tommorow. Well past midnight, Parliament is currently holding an emergency session.

Even with plenty of local reports depicting recent protests being a “grab for power” aided by thousands of paid supporters, such an abrupt ending casts a dim outlook for the upcoming months, as Daniel Sershen reports on Eurasianet.

Whatever the cause of the confrontation, the results are clear: the opposition has lost any leverage that it had against Bakiyev in the constitutional debate. Some observers now say the president has no incentive to enter into deal with his critics that would alter the existing balance of power. If anything, observers now expect Bakiyev to press a political offensive that aims to restore presidential authority to the level that existed before the first round of constitutional protests last November.

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jodi April 19, 2007 at 5:03 pm

I’m sure you probably saw this when it was published a week ago and maybe it was posted on the blog and I missed it, but just in case, this post reminded me of this report which states that in light of all the protests going on in the past two years up until this current one, Kyrgyzstan is in risk of becoming a failed state.

Gene Daniels April 19, 2007 at 5:44 pm

We live 4-5 blocks from the city center, and I could hear sporatic shooting until around 1:30 am. I don’t know who was doing the shooting, but there were crowds of people moving through the area.

Also, I noticed that the VOA is spinning the whole thing as a “law and order” issue and made it sound like Bakiev had no choice but defend the city against the opposition.

Hummm, I wonder who’s on who’s side in this mess?

Nathan April 19, 2007 at 6:08 pm

They are, Gene? That’s interesting. Now I am really curious what Bakiev and Feigenbaum talked about a few days ago.

jodi April 19, 2007 at 7:04 pm

This piece doesn’t mention shooting but it does mention percussion grenades. It sounds like a mess over there. :S

Bonnie Boyd April 19, 2007 at 7:17 pm

Stuff like this doesn’t go away, though, just because the suits want it to. There are a lot of young people who need work and promise, and until these young people have a way to engage in society. I don’t mean this like Pollyanna, as in “it’ll all work out”. I mean this like the 1960’s, with its long, turbulent debate.
Just an opinion–got no facts to back me. . . . . up. . . .

Gene Daniels April 20, 2007 at 5:09 am

Word around Bishkek today is, its not over yet. Wait a night or two and see what happens.

One Kyrgyz I know made the observation that the 2005 revolution was all done in the daylight. Most of this one has been at night. I a

I don’t know, but I am keeping inside after 9PM.

Laurence April 20, 2007 at 7:34 am

Nathan, Thank you for covering these events on Registan…

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