washingtonpost.com  > World > Asia/Pacific > Central Asia > Kyrgyzstan
Page 2 of 2  < Back  

New Leadership Is Established In Kyrgyzstan

"We're all really frustrated because of what happened last night," one woman told the crowd, which was sprinkled with young men who had tied red cloths around their coat sleeves to show they were militia volunteers.

A day after the government fell, there were suggestions that dissidents in other parts of the former Soviet Union might try to replicate the revolt's quick, unforeseen success. In Uzbekistan, which borders Kyrgyzstan, opposition parties issued a joint statement expressing certainty that "the process of democratic reforms that started in Kyrgyzstan will highly influence all parts of Central Asia."

A man picks through the rubble of a supermarket in Bishkek, the capital. The new leadership called for calm after Thursday night's violence. (Viktor Korotayev -- Reuters)

_____Recent Coverage_____
Protests Topple Kyrgyzstan's Government (The Washington Post, Mar 25, 2005)

_____Kyrgyzstan Protests_____
Video: Protesters stormed the presidential compound in Kyrgyzstan on Thursday, seizing control of the seat of state power after clashing with riot police.
A Look at Kyrgyzstan

In Minsk, the capital of Belarus, about 1,000 people gathered near the palace of President Alexander Lukashenko in hopes of touching off a larger movement, but they were dispersed by riot police, according to the Associated Press.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the appearance of taking the revolution in stride. After backing the losing side in revolts in Georgia and Ukraine, the Kremlin made no public effort to protect Akayev, though Putin said he would be welcome in Russia.

"We know these people pretty well," Putin told reporters during a visit to Armenia, referring to the opposition. "And they have done quite a lot to establish good relations between Russia and Kyrgyzstan."

"For its part, Russia will do its best to keep up the current level of relations between the states and improve relations between the people," he said.

But some Russian analysts called the development bad news for Moscow. "The Central Asian region now faces a risk of Islamization," said Sergei Markov, an architect of Putin's quasi-authoritarian governing policy known as managed democracy, according to the Knight Ridder newspaper chain. "In addition, drug trafficking from Central Asia to Europe via Russia will certainly grow."

Akayev was a favorite of Washington, which welcomed his early initiatives to reform a Soviet-style economy and nurture democratic institutions. But there were signs Friday that the United States was readily accepting his demise.

As Bakiyev worked his way Friday from the plaza podium toward the parliament building behind a human chain of security volunteers, he told reporters he had spoken with the U.S. ambassador in Bishkek, Stephen Young. "He says, and I agree with him, that we are going to work together," Bakiyev said. "We will continue our cooperation."

The State Department said that Young had met with Bakiyev on Thursday evening and that the ambassador had been in regular telephone contact with him and other interim leaders.

A Western observer who lives in Bishkek said Akayev had worn out his welcome with his own people. When protests first erupted in the southern part of the country, an area both poorer and ethnically distinct from Akayev's native north, the incumbent dismissed the uproar and refused to meet with the opposition.

"The fact is the government didn't have much support and it just started crumbling," said the observer, who spoke on condition that he not be further identified.

On Thursday, Ishenbai Kadyrbekov was briefly made acting president because of his position as speaker of the legislative assembly, the Interfax news agency said. But on Friday he was replaced by Bakiyev, a native of Jalal-Abad, a city in the south and an early center of opposition. Bakiyev served as prime minister from 2000 to 2002, before resigning after security forces killed six protesters in a clash.

The government he began putting in place Friday is drawn largely from other mainstream politicians who had fallen out of favor with Akayev.

Kulov, for instance, once served as mayor of Bishkek. Roza Otunbayeva, a frequent guest on English-language news shows, has been named foreign minister, a post she held under Akayev. She said a presidential contest may be set for June.

Residents said this country's sense of close kinship made Thursday night's violence particularly hard to accept. Smoke was still pouring from one downtown mall at midday. Pizza shops and other businesses were missing windows. By afternoon, shop owners were emptying their shelves and preparing to guard stock too heavy to pack up.

Staff writer Robin Wright in Washington contributed to this report.

< Back  1 2

© 2005 The Washington Post Company