Wednesday, April 7, 2010

UPDATE as of (Thursday, 22:56 EST)
Russian complicity in Kyrgyz revolution confirmed by opposition party now in power. Please see the following Reuters piece here

This news is both unsurprising and troubling. Snap analysis soon.

UPDATE as of (Thursday, 10:52 EST)

For those of you still following this story, please read Simon Shuster's piece at Time, and Peter Leonard from the AP.

Information is still trickling out of Kyrgyzstan to the western media as this snap analysis goes to print -- we here at D&D are monitoring the situation as we go here, and should any of you have contacts in Kyrgyz, please pass their information on to us at

First -- a thanks from our reader Drew, who sent us the link for following pictures from Bishkek -- a quick warning: these pictures are graphic, but important. They can be viewed here.

Background, News and D&D Snap Analysis After the Jump

The past months:
Over the past months, and specifically the past week, has seen an increasingly organized and aggressive series of protests directly opposing the government of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev -- who himself rose to power in the mass protests now known as the "Tulip Revolution" of 2005. The protests resulted from the increasingly centralized powers of the Kyrgyz president, and multiple allegations of human rights abuses at the hands of the security forces.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010
In the north-western town of Talas, Kyrgyzstan; thousands of protesters stormed, briefly seized control of a government building -- burning pictures of President Bakiyev, and declaring the ascendancy of a "people's governor" and demanding the resignation of the nation's president in Bishkek.

In response, the central government dispatched riot police, who retook the building -- but only for a short while. The protesters counter-attacked with rocks and Molotov cocktails, retaking the building.

Late Tuesday night, the central government announced the detention of several opposition leaders, and declared the situation resolved, in advance of the previously advertised date for mass opposition protests in the capital on Wednesday, April 7, 2010.

April 7, 2010 (Today)
Thousands of protesters gathered across the country, with a crowd numbering in the hundreds marching towards the national seat of governance, the White House, in Bishkek. As the crowd swelled, they overcame multiple riot police cordons, and, as they came into close proximity to the White House, were fired upon by police snipers and attacked with flash and stun grenades from police on the street. Over 40 have been confirmed dead, and more that 400 wounded.

And things began to move very fast.

Crowds stormed the White House in Bishkek. Crowds took control of the National TV and Radio stations. Crowds took control of police headquarters -- setting free those opposition leaders captured by the Kyrgyz government the day before.

Those set free announced the stand-up of a new, interim government, lead by opposition leader Roza Otunbayeva. President Bakiyev has fled the capital, taking refuge in the southern city of Osh. A National State of Emergency has been declared, and as of now, civil war may loom in Kyrgyzstan.

D&D Snap Analysis
When it comes to power in Kyrgyzstan, there are two factors to consider. The first is local legitimacy, which stems from the ability of the central government to provide the services and rule of law expected by the people of the nation. The second is the support of foreign interests, which provide the government with the means and assistance to provide those services and governance.

The foreign players in Kyrgyzstan? Russia, China, and the United States. The US currently maintains a contentious airbase at Manas -- which is central to troop movement logistics into the Afghan theater of operations. The opposition now declaring itself the government of the Kyrgyz have demanded the closing of that base -- and flights have been diverted throughout the day.

US Officials, citing a contentious Russian aid package offered to Kyrgyzstan last year, have hinted that Russia has made the closing of the Manas base a requisite to any monetary transfer to the republic. Russia's last offer was $2 Billion USD. It was turned down by the previous government.

From a senior US official to the AP:

"We want to see the situation resolved peacefully, consistent with the rule of law. Our conversation with the opposition at this stage is about finding out what is happening and encouraging a peaceful resolution."
From Vladimir Putin:
"When President Bakiyev came to power, he was very harshly critical of the fact that the relatives of the deposed President Akayev had taken positions throughout Kyrgyzstan's economy. I have the impression that Mr. Bakiyev is stepping on these same rakes."
To date: Russia has denied any knowledge or support for the opposition that has apparently toppled the government in Kyrgyzstan -- but...

I fall back on the old Latin phrase -- quid profites? (who benefits?)

Hopefully the Kyrgyz people.

The protesters have shown an amazing ability to organize and mobilize their support -- and have done so incredibly effectively. Because of this, I feel that it would not be surprising to find FSB involvement in the arming and organization of the opposition movement. Russia, in the past years, has made it clear that the leaders of former Soviet Republics must stand Moscow's side, or face dire consequences -- a message relayed via Georgia and the Ukraine.

President Bakiyev has consistently moved towards the United States, turning down Russian aid, and allowing the US to maintain their base in Manas. He has also allowed his legitimacy to slip away as he sought to consolidate his power. The result?

Lets see what tomorrow brings. We still haven't heard from China.

Please read the breaking news updates (linked below).
NY Times


Reuters Wire


Drew said...

I am interested in hearing what China's response is to this, and what this could mean for the US (especially since hearing of the call for closing the airbase there). I agree that hopefully the Kyrgyz will benefit from this, and ideally I would like to see some sort of peaceful resolution be made. But damn, I'm really really curious as to what information will come from China as this story continues. Thanks for following this, guys.

Drew said...

The only article I could find as of yet. Playing it safe so far, eh China?

Jeff Schneider said...

@ Drew -- I think you have the right read here. My gut tells me China is hesitant to commit until it is clear what Russia's involvement in the situation is. Hold your breath?

Anonymous said...

Let the dust settle. Definitely a game changer.

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