Kyrgyzstan’s incumbent Kurmanbek Bakiyev claims an 85% of the vote in the weekend’s presidential election. But challenger Almazbek Atambayev is questioning the results, and flew to Moscow to discuss the issue with Russian leaders. The Union of Civic Organizations, an independent Kyrgyz election monitoring group, said it had documented several violations, including “massive ballot stuffing.” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has yet to congratulate Bakiyev on his victory. Neither Russia nor the US has explicitly commented on the conduct of the election.
The US and Russia both have military bases in Kyrgyzstan, and Washington signaled last week that it has no objections to Moscow opening a second base in the Central Asian nation. “Any such decision is obviously the sovereign right of the government of Kyrgyzstan,” US Undersecretary of State William Burns told reporters. “Our view is that any step that strengthens the sovereignty and independence and security of Kyrgyzstan is a sensible one.”
A Kyrgyz government source told AFP that Russia had won permission to open a base in Osh, a city in southern Kyrgyzstan, which would operate under the auspices of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO). (Reuters, July 27; NYT, July 25; AFP, July 13)