March 25, 2005
The Guardian

Kyrgyzstan President Flees People Power

Akayev regime falls after police lose street battles

by Nick Paton Walsh

An angry mob stormed the presidential building in Kyrgyzstan yesterday, prompting President Askar Akayev to flee the country and the opposition to declare a new interim government.

The sheer number of protesters, many of whom were armed with sticks, stones and stolen riot shields, forced police to flee the presidential compound that they were guarding. The building was then ransacked, with protesters looting clocks, computers and even presidential wine.

The impoverished central Asian country is the third former Soviet Union state in 17 months to revolt against its leaders after the authorities tried to fix an election. Both Georgia and Ukraine, also traditional spheres of Russian influence, have seen popular uprisings unseat authoritarian regimes. . . .


[The country of 5 million people borders China in an energy-rich region where Washington and Moscow vie for influence. Both powers have military bases outside the capital.--Jeremy Lennard, "Kyrgyz protesters storm government compound," Guardian, March 24, 2005]

[Opposition protesters in Bishkek Kyrgyzstan will hold fresh elections in June, says the central Asian republic's acting president Kurmanbek Bakiev.--"New Kyrgyz leader promises polls ," BBC, March 25, 2005]

Mary Dejevsky, "Revolution that came too soon starts to fall apart in chaotic Kyrgyzstan," Independent, March 27, 2005

[Acting President Kurmanbek Bakiyev on Monday endorsed the newly elected parliament he previously had denounced as the product of ballot-rigging, while the lawmakers in turn formally named him prime minister.--David Holley, " Kyrgyzstan's Leader Endorses the Newly Elected Parliament," Los Angeles Times, March 29, 2005]

[. . . the US has well-known strategic interests in central Asia, especially in Kyrgyzstan. Freedom House's friendliness to the Islamist fundamentalist movement Hizb ut-Tahrir will certainly unsettle a Beijing concerned about Muslim unrest in its western provinces. But perhaps the clearest message sent by Akayev's overthrow is this: in the new world order the sudden replacement of party cadres hangs as a permanent threat - or incentive - over even the most compliant apparatchik.--John Laughland, "The mythology of people power: The glamour of street protests should not blind us to the reality of US-backed coups in the former USSR," Guardian, April 1, 2005]

"Kyrgyz poll hailed as 'progress'," BBC News, July 11, 2005

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