Peak Oil Revolution

SUBHEAD: Opposition says it is in charge following days of bloody civil unrest. U.S. closing Kyrgyzstan embassy, State Department official says. [Publisher's note: Visit sources of articles below for video clips of coverage. There will be ads.] Image above: Police vehicle is overwhelmed on the streets of Bishkek, the capitol of Kyrgyzstan. From ( By Clifford J. Levy on 7 April 2010 in New York Times - ( The president of Kyrgyzstan was forced to flee the capital, Bishkek, on Wednesday after bloody protests erupted across the country over his repressive rule, a backlash that could pose a threat to the American military supply line into nearby Afghanistan. Opposition politicians, speaking on state television after it was seized by protesters, said they had taken control of the government after a day of violent clashes that left more than 40 people dead and more than 400 wounded. The instability called into question the fate of a critical American air base in the country. Riot police officers fired rounds of live ammunition into angry crowds of demonstrators who gathered around government buildings to rally against what they termed the government’s brutality and corruption, as well as a recent decision to increase utility rates sharply. Witnesses said that the police seemed to panic, and that there was no sign of supervision. In several cases, demonstrators wrested the weapons away from security forces. By early Thursday morning, opposition officials occupied many government buildings in Bishkek, and were demanding that the president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, sign a formal letter of resignation. Mr. Bakiyev has issued no public remarks since the protests began. An official at the Bishkek airport said Mr. Bakiyev was flying to Osh, a major city in the southern part of the country. A coalition of opposition parties said a transition government would be headed by a former foreign minister, Roza Otunbayeva. “Power is now in the hands of the people’s government,” she said in a televised address on Wednesday evening. Those same opposition leaders were angered last spring when Obama administration officials courted Mr. Bakiyev — who they admitted was an autocrat — in an ultimately successful attempt to retain rights to the military base, Manas, used to supply troops in Afghanistan. President Obama even sent him a letter of praise. Russia had offered Mr. Bakiyev a sizable amount in new aid, which the United States interpreted as an effort to persuade him to close the base in order to limit the American military presence in Russia’s sphere of influence. After vowing to evict the Americans last year, Mr. Bakiyev reversed course once the administration agreed to pay much higher rent for the base. An American official said late on Wednesday that flights into the base at Manas had been suspended. Lt. Cmdr. Bill Speaks, a spokesman for United States Central Command, said late on Wednesday that some troops and equipment scheduled to transit from Manas to Afghanistan were likely to be delayed because of the government upheaval and that the military was preparing to use other routes. The American attitude toward Mr. Bakiyev ruffled opposition politicians in Kyrgyzstan, who said it was shameful for the United States to stand for democratic values in the developing world while maintaining an alliance with him. The Kyrgyz president’s son, Maksim, had been scheduled to be in Washington on Thursday for talks with administration officials. The opposition views the younger Mr. Bakiyev as a vicious henchman for his father, and was infuriated that he was granted an audience. The State Department said late on Wednesday that it had canceled the meetings. Opposition leaders have been divided in recent weeks over whether they would continue to allow the American military base to remain, but it seems clear that they harbor bitterness toward the United States. And neighboring Russia, which has long resented the base, has been currying favor with the opposition. “The political behavior of the United States has created a situation where the new authorities may want to look more to Russia than to the United States, and it will strengthen their political will to rebuff the United States,” said Bakyt Beshimov, an opposition leader who fled Kyrgyzstan last August in fear for his life. Mr. Beshimov was one of numerous opposition politicians and journalists who in recent years have been threatened, beaten and even killed. Kyrgyzstan, with five million people in the mountains of Central Asia, is one of the poorest countries of the former Soviet Union, and has long been troubled by political conflict and corruption. Mr. Bakiyev himself took power in 2005 after the Tulip Revolution, one of a series of so-called color revolutions that seemed to offer hope of more democracy in former Soviet republics. Since then, the Kyrgyz human rights situation has deteriorated. Mr. Bakiyev easily won another term as president last year, but independent monitors said the election was tainted by extensive fraud. Tensions in Kyrgyzstan have been brewing for months, and seemed to be touched off in the provincial city of Talas on Tuesday by protests over soaring utility rates. Then on Wednesday, thousands of people began massing in Bishkek, where they were met by heavily armed riot police officers. Dmitri Kabak, director of a local human rights group in Bishkek, said in a telephone interview that he was monitoring the protest when riot police officers started shooting. “When people started marching toward the presidential office, snipers on the roof of the office started to open fire, with live bullets,” Mr. Kabak said. “I saw several people who were killed right there on the square.” Dinara Saginbayeva, a Kyrgyz health official, said in a telephone interview that the death toll could rise, and that more than 350 people had been wounded in Bishkek alone. Opposition leaders said as many as 100 people may have died. While the fighting was raging, security forces still loyal to the president arrested several prominent opposition leaders, including Omurbek Tekebayev, a former speaker of Parliament, and Almazbek Atambayev, a former prime minister and presidential candidate. They were later released after the government’s resistance appeared to wither. While opposition leaders have promised to pursue a less authoritarian course, Central Asia has not proved fertile ground for democracy. Mr. Bakiyev himself took office declaring that he would respect political freedoms. Whatever happens domestically, a new government will have decide how to balance the interests of the United States and Russia, which both have military bases in Kyrgyzstan and want to maintain a presence in the region. Paul Quinn-Judge, Central Asia project director for International Crisis Group, a research organization, said Russia had stoked anti-American sentiment in Kyrgyzstan in recent months, often over the issue of the base. Nevertheless, Mr. Quinn-Judge said he suspected that opposition politicians would in the end decide to permit the base, though not before giving the United States a hard time. “My gut feeling is that it can be smoothed over,” he said. “But they have got to move fast to reach out to the opposition, and do it with a certain degree of humility.” • Elisabeth Bumiller contributed reporting from Washington. SUBHEAD: Opposition says it is in charge following days of bloody civil unrest. U.S. closing Kyrgyzstan embassy, State Department official says.
Kyrgyz President Won't Resign
Image above: Torn picture of Kyrgyzstan President Kurmanbek Bakiev lies on floor in Parliment builfing in Bishkek. By Maxim Tkachenko on 9 April 2010 for CNN - ( The Kyrgyz president said Thursday he would not resign despite the opposition's assertion that it had ousted the government following days of bloody civil unrest in the central Asian nation.

President Kurmanbek Bakiev acknowledged that there had been a coup against him but said in a statement that he was not abandoning his duties.

"I am prepared to bear responsibility for the tragic events that have happened if it will be proven by an objective and unbiased recognition without hiding behind the presidential immunity. I believe I acted in the way that the constitution required," Bakiev said in his statement, posted on, a well-known Kyrgyz Web site.

A wave of protests have left 75 people dead and hundreds injured in fighting between police and protesters, authorities said. The opposition seized government headquarters and pledged to address citizens' concerns.

Bishkek, the capital, was relatively calm Thursday. There were small groups of people chanting near the marble government office, known as the white house. One report said a crowd was rallying outside the telephone company in the capital, and that demonstrators blocked roads and obstructed traffic, prompting concern from health officials.

As darkness fell, sporadic bursts of machine gun fire and police sirens could be heard. It was not immediately known why there was shooting, but a major concern of the new interim government officials is widespread looting.

Ismail Isakov, the interim interior minister, said on television he ordered police to shoot people looting shops, businesses and houses of former top officials. And, officials have urged citizens to band together to stop looters.

In his statement, Bakiev said, the country has endured "loss" as a result of opposition leaders' "irresponsible actions."

"Innocent people have died... I am shocked by the tragedy and express deep and sincere condolences to the families of those dead. Today, the attention of the entire world is attracted to the bloody events happening in Kyrgyzstan."

Bakiev said it was "clear" to the world that there had been a coup in which "our countrymen have paid the price."

"I am confident that those who are attempting to change the authority in the country should act strictly within the framework of law and according to the existing constitution.

"Realizing my responsibilities as president of the Kyrgyz republic, I am confident the country where the government comes to power through blood can lose its statehood. I am urging the instigators of the riots to think again. I am stating that as president I did not abandon my duties and I am not abandoning my duties. Irresponsible actions of the opposition could only cause more escalation of tensions."

Roza Otunbayeva, a former foreign minister, said the opposition had taken over the reins of government and driven Bakiev from office.

"We must restore a lot of things that have been wrongly ruled," said Otunbayeva, who declared herself the country's interim leader.

Otunbayeva said at a news conference that the former president had fled to the south of the country with his entourage.

"The new government would like to locate him to negotiate the terms of his resignation," she said, adding that Bakiev is trying to consolidate his supporters to help restore his power.

"We will not let him come back to power," said Abdygany Erkebayev, a former parliament speaker and opposition figure.

Otunbayeva added that the former prime minister had handed a resignation letter, and the interim government was now in control based on the constitution. She said the new body replaces the president and cabinet ministers.

The interim government is working to restore order across the country. Ismail Isakov, the interim interior minister, said on television he has given orders to shoot looters.

Opposition leaders have accused Bakiev of consolidating power by keeping key economic and security posts in the hands of relatives or close associates.

The protests began Tuesday in the northern city of Talas. They were sparked by increases in electric and fuel rates, which had gone up at the first of the year as Bakiev's government sold public utilities to companies controlled by his friends.

Demonstrations spread to the capital Wednesday after the government arrested opposition leaders in Talas.

Otunbayeva discussed a list of priorities the new government would focus on, including restoring the old utility company. The government also said it had taken control of television stations and most businesses owned by the former president's son, including banking and mobile services.

Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic, houses an air base that forms an important link in the supply line for United States and NATO forces in nearby Afghanistan.

The new government denied reports that it was planning to shut down the air base, but said it intends to review the issue.

In Washington, a senior Pentagon official told CNN that the turmoil had interrupted flights into and out of that facility, and it was unclear when those flights would resume. But the U.S. military has contingency plans to deal with the situation, the official said.

On Thursday, a senior State Department official said Washington was closing its embassy in Bishkek and may move dependents onto the air base as a safety precaution. The United States has closed its embassy in Bishkek, a senior State Department official said Thursday, and the country is contemplating moving dependents to the Manas air base for a few days because of concern about the political violence that has engulfed the country.

"We have concerns about the situation on the ground," U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said at a Thursday briefing. "We stand with the people of Kyrgyzstan. We understand that there were specific grievances that resulted in the demonstrations that have produced an opposition that now says that it has effective control of the government."

Crowley said the United States is not taking sides. "Our interest here is with the people of Kyrgyzstan and a peaceful resolution of the situation."

As the protests died down, the interim government said it was monitoring the situation to ensure no more violence.

Otunbayeva is the head of the Social Democratic Party and a member of the parliament. She was a leader of the protests that brought Bakiev to power in 2005 and served as his foreign minister for about two years before quitting to protest over the appointment of one of the president's brothers to an ambassadorship, said Mirsulzhan Namazaliev, executive director of the Central Asian Free Market Institute in Bishkek.

On Thursday, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe urged citizens to refrain from violence and to use dialogue to address their concerns. The group's special envoy to the country, Zhanybek Karibzhanov, is expected to arrive in Bishkek shortly.



Mauibrad said...

The real story on Kyrgyzstan & deposed Bakiyev took the treasury with him incl. sizeable US$ paid to Kyrgyzstan over past year Will the US be asked to pay it again?

Mauibrad said...

Where's the Kyrgyzstan Treasury? It was $150 million Obama has given to Bakiyev in the past year, $60 million for rent of the base & $90 million in "foreign aid." Bakiyev is gonna be one rich dude if he can get outta the country alive.

Mauibrad said...

AP Latest: "...[Bakiyev] is testing his ability to mount resistance to the opposition forces that drove him out of the capital last week. About 500 people gathered in a muddy field in Kurmanbek Bakiyev's native village of Teyit...[on Monday to rally.]"

U.S. embassy not to provide political asylum for Bakiyev

Bakiyev tells Russian Newsweek magazine he is prepared to resign

Mauibrad said...

Reuters: "...Russia had pledged to provide financial aid to the new leadership. 'We reached agreement on a solid grant,' said Atambayev, who visited Moscow at the end of last week. He said that more than **$150 million in aid had been requested."**

$150 million, that's about what the U.S. gave to Kyrgyzstan in the past year and about what Bakiyev *temporarily* took with him.

Mauibrad said...

Oh, excellent article, "[In Kyrgyzstan], early this year, authorities raised the prices for electricity, heat, and hot water by 170 to 400 percent...In travels around the country, pensioners told me they were spending all of their meager state allowance on utility bills, sitting at home in the cold and dark to save money..."

Mauibrad said...

Kyrgyz president Bakiyev flees, ending standoff (Reuters) - Ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev fled Kyrgyzstan on Thursday and a government source said he had quit, a week after an uprising against his five-year rule sparked fears of civil war.

Mauibrad said...

Bakiyev's faxed letter of resignation:

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