Kyrgyzstan: opposition calls for protests

Opposition parties this week called for protests across Kyrgyzstan on March 27, amid worsening economic conditions and mounting accusations of government repression. President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s government has authorized the rally—but Interior Minister Moldomusa Kongantiyev issued a grim warning. “At the slightest breach of the law, the police will take every measure to restore law and order and the security of our citizens,” Kongantiyev said.

This is rather an irony considering that Bakiyev came to power in the mass protest movement of 2005 that led to the overthrow of longtime president Askar Akayev. Many critics now say Bakiyev’s own regime mirrors the corruption and authoritarianism of its predecessor. Last week, a leading critic of the government, Alikbek Jekshenkulov, was arrested for alleged involvement in a 2007 murder—a charge his supporters say is politically motivated.

On March 6, Bakiyev’s former chief of staff Medet Sadyrkulov, who had defected to the opposition in January, was killed in a car collision while returning from a trip to Kazakhstan. Opposition members are calling it murder. “We are absolutely in agreement that it is an assassination,” said Bakyt Beshimov, an opposition member of parliament. “He became a victim of this repressive regime.” (AP, March 16; IHT, March 13

Is this another example of the global wave of protest and revolution in response to the econocataclysm? Or are the neocons and the CIA greasing the Kyrgyz protest movement in reaction to Bakiyev’s decision to boot the US from Manas air base? or both?

See our last posts on Kyrgyzstan and the struggle for Central Asia.

See also our special report, “Obama, Kyrgyzstan and the Great Game.”

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