The Guardian 6 April, 2005

Who's behind the turmoil in Kyrgyzia?

"I didn't resign, I won't resign", said overthrown Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev in a statement to a Moscow radio station on March 29. "I see myself as the only legitimate and elected president. Right now, I don't see any reason to resign".

Kyrgyzstan has a population of less than 5 million people but is rich in mineral resources and has an important strategic position. It has common borders with China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. It also hosts Russian and American military bases.

At the moment Mr Akayev and his family are in Russia and according to Mr Akayev he would return "when there is constitutional order, democratic rights and security guaranteed for me and my family".

A lot of Kyrgyz citizens would like to see the same things guaranteed for them and decent prospects for jobs and living standards.

A fortnight ago angry mobs attacked government buildings and ransacked offices, shops and markets. There was no leader coordinating or calming the protest and it turned into several days and nights of looting, destruction and banditry.

The situation developed after the opposition declared that the just concluded parliamentary elections were not fair.

Having spent several days deciding what colour scheme to adopt for the "revolution" orange had been used in the Ukraine and rose in Georgia the protesters finally received pink armbands.

In the violence that ensued, over 400 people were admitted to hospitals for medical help. Four people died of wounds.

New presidential elections are to be held in November-December. Meanwhile the two likely presidential candidates clashed on who should sit in the interim government. The dispute threatened to completely paralyse the government. One of the presidential hopefuls, Mr Bakiyev wanted to seat the MPs who were elected in 2000; the other, Mr Kulov, wanted those who were just elected in the disputed general elections.

In the end, Mr Bakiyev yielded to his rival by recognising the newly elected parliament. In return the MPs elected him Prime Minister.

Destabilisation

And here lies the crux of the problem.

The expanding US presence in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Persian Gulf will be greatly enhanced by local governments favourable to the US and destabilising the region would greatly improve the chances of the US grabbing for itself the natural resources in the region. The US also sees its military base near the western borders of China as a useful pressure point and a means to encircle China further.

It is no wonder that before the recent events in Kyrgyzstan vast amounts of money found its way there, mainly through sham non-government organisations. It is believed that more than 50 such organisations were active and played a fundamental role in the crisis.

Guess who?

Russian news agency Novosti reports the overthrown President Askar Akayev as accusing the USA of backing forces who made the unconstitutional coup in Kyrgyzstan. "The regime that has come now certainly was backed from without. The revolution surely had US financial and technical support", he told Novosti.

Mr Akayev referred to a Pakistan-based Muslim organisation, which he did not specify, as posting on the world wide web a report by Stephen Young, US Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan. The report blueprinted the Kyrgyz revolution in detail.

"The blueprints were meticulously implemented" said Akayev. "The [US] ambassador said the USA needed to overthrow me, and to build up its influence in Kyrgyzstan as China's neighbour and a country that hosted a Russian base, and so was playing a crucial role".

According to Mr Akayev, ambassador made references to Mr Bakiyev, now Kyrgyzstan's acting President, and Rosa Otunbayeva, acting Deputy Foreign Minister, and remarked that Bakiyev was a preferable person for America.

He stressed that the Russian base needs reinforcements. "The latest events clearly showed it was urgent that it be made stronger".

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