Central Asia: Dirty Politics Hits The Streets


May 21, 2010: Ethnic violence in the south, where most of the Uzbek minority (14 percent of the population) lives, continues, with Kyrgyz supporters of  ousted president Bakiyev  pushing back and putting a Uzbek university under siege. Most of the violence is in the southern city of Jalalabad, where Uzbeks oppose local supporters of ousted president Bakiyev. There, violence in the streets has been going on for three days. While the violence appears to be ethnic, a lot of it is directed at Kyrgyz families that supported former president Bakiyev, had received jobs from him, and had been corrupt (either as government officials or businessmen). Bakiyev was himself was the head of a reform government, that replaced a corrupt one, and many Kyrgyz are wondering if the new reformers will be any cleaner.

The new government is not holding new elections until next year, but is holding a national referendum next month to select which form of government (and whether to shift much power from the president to the parliament) is preferred. Russia is obviously a power broker here, and has let it be known that it wants a pro-Russia government, otherwise, ways can be found to stir up trouble.

May 20, 2010: The government raised the pay for police and officers in the military. In the southern city of Jalalabad, a state of emergency was declared after two people died in violence between reformers, and supporters of former president Bakiyev. Uzbeks in the south believe that Bakiyev supporters are trying to start a war between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, so that Bakiyev can return from exile and regain power. This rarely works, but Bakiyev supporters have lost their lucrative jobs and opportunities to steal government funds, and now face prosecution. A lot of money was involved. For example, sales of jet fuel to American forces in the Manas air base were controlled by members of the Bakiyev, who got about $100 million a year from bribes on that alone.

May 18, 2010: Uzbekistan sent more troops to the Kyrgyzstan border, and protested to the Kyrgyz government about the violence in the south between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks.

May 13, 2010: In the southern cities of Osh and Jalalabad, backers of former president Bakiyev seized government buildings. This led to a counterattack by more numerous supporters of the new reform government. Jalalabad is at the northeastern end of the densely populated Fergana valley, which is shared by  Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

May 12, 2010: For the first time, supporters of former president Bakiyev rallied in the capital to protest the dissolution of parliament, and attempts to extradite Bakiyev from his refuge in Belarus. The government wants to prosecute Bakiyev for mass murder and theft. The government wants to prosecute many Bakiyev supporters as well, which is what brought the pro-Bakiyev mobs onto the streets. All those who benefitted from the corrupt Bakiyev government, now fear retribution. Bakiyev supporters are believed to be paying people to attend pro-Bakiyev demonstrations.

May 5, 2010: The government is offering rewards of up to $100,000 for help in capturing four relatives (a son and three brothers) of former president Bakiyev. The men are believed to be key aides in Bakiyev's looting of the economy. Bakiyev is believed to have stolen over a billion dollars during his five years in power.

April 29, 2010: Supporters of former president Bakiyev are calling for the partition of the country, with the pro-Bakiyev south becoming "South Kyrgyzstan." This idea gained no traction at all.

April 24, 2010: The government wants to prosecute former president Bakiyev for ordering his security forces to kill nearly a hundred people during the uprising that removed him from power earlier this month.

April 23, 2010: The interim government has managed to gain control over local governments all over the country. Former president Bakiyev said he has no intention of returning from his exile in Belarus, but at the same time he still considers himself the president of Kyrgyzstan (a status that comes with immunity from criminal prosecution.)



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