There were protests today in Bishkek. From the pictures Akipress is posting (including the one above), the protesters appear to be lead by Kamchybek Tashiev, a divisive and outspoken southern politician from Jalal-Abad.
Radio Azzatyk has video:
It seems to be primarily about nationalizing the gold mine in Kumtor, though protesters are also demanding better access to microfinance (and, of course, demanding the Atambaev government step down). Mining is a deeply contentious issue in Kyrgyzstan, as our friend Farrell Steyers wrote about last month.
Despite the flashy photos of the protesters marching through Ala-Too Square and scaling the fences at the White House, it’s unlikely this will really lead to anything bigger. Still, it’s interesting to see Tashiev leading the charge: he had been widely speculated to be Atambaev’s favored replacement for Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov, who was recently ousted for a corrupt deal involving an expensive prized horse. The job instead went to Zhantoro Satybaldiyev, the former Vice Prime Minister who also headed up reconstruction of Osh and Jalal-Abad after the June 2010 riots, last month.
The head of the Ata-Jurt party, which enjoys considerable support in the South, Tashiev finished in third place in last year’s Presidential election. It’s unclear whether his participation in this protest is related to his failed quest to become Prime Minister.
Kloop has a play-by-play for more information.