I’ve been reading continuously on Kyrgyzstan, but with the whole McChrystal flap I haven’t had a chance to post about it. It looks like the violence has calmed down, either because of time or because of Roza Otunbayeva’s call for assistance from the OCSE–which doesn’t even meet until Thursday (1 July). So, spontaneous calm? Either way, the nation has successfully passed the new constitution without further violence or unrest, which says something about things returning to normal.
More than 90 percent voted “yes” in Sunday’s referendum, with 5 percent of the ballots remaining to be counted, said Central Elections Committee spokeswoman Galina Skripkina. About 8 percent voted against it. Some 2.7 million people were eligible to vote, and turnout was nearly 70 percent, she said.
…The referendum – supported by the U.N., the U.S. and Russia – is seen as an important step on the road to democracy for the interim government, which came to power after former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted in April following deadly street protests. The new constitution strips power from the president and gives more authority to parliament.
Otunbayeva will be confirmed as a continued interim president until elections are held, possibly still on-time for this fall if peace continues. However, 400,000 Kyrgyz citizens are still displaced, both externally and internally. That must be dealt with over the summer, which may be the role OCSE ends up playing in Kyrgyzstan.
Spiegel has an interview with Otunbayeva that most covers existing ground, but does confirm Steve Levine’s point that Kyrgyzstan was indeed in contact with the US, though not for full-scale police aid. And the plot thickens–or at least trundles along–for the ousted Bakiyevs, as Bakiyev Jr. claims asylum in Britain. I’m of the opinion that Cameron will assert his foreign power cred by denying any extradition requests to Kyrgyzstan.
Registan has ways you can help out Kyrgyzstan and its citizens.
The last several weeks have been a big step–good or bad–for Kyrgyzstan on the world stage. Here’s hoping the next flurry of articles is about an election, rather than a riot.
Kyrgyzstan has largely waned from the Western news, as the interim government seems to be sticking and former President Bakiyev is sheltered by Belarus. Still, a news item pops up every couple of days. From the NYT, Kyrgyzstan Opens an Inquiry Into Fuel Sales to a U.S. Base:
The investigation focuses on Maksim Bakiyev, the 32-year-old son of former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was ousted in an uprising last month in which opposition to corruption was a rallying cry.
Prosecutors are examining whether the elder Mr. Bakiyev’s government broke the law in granting tax breaks to companies that eventually became affiliated with his son, the Interfax news agency reported.
Leaders of Kyrgyzstan’s interim government have said that Maksim Bakiyev’s companies skimmed as much as $8 million a month from fuel sales to the base. That charge and other corruption allegations contributed to the uprising that drove his father from office.
Kyrgyz officials have also accused the United States of using the fuel distribution system to curry favor with Kurmanbek Bakiyev in order to hold on to the air base, but the prosecutors have not alleged wrongdoing by the Pentagon, according to the Interfax report.
So who are they accusing, if not the agency that assists in co-ordinating resources for the base? Just the US in general? That’ll go far. The subcomittee on National Security oversight held a hearing on the Kyrgyzstan fuel contracts last month, and it will probably get picked up again in the future, especially if Kyrgyzstan keeps in a flap about it. But the interim government has asserted its commitment to upholding the lease with the USAF for Manas, so one wonders just how far any investigation will go. At the very least, the interim government could insist on more oversight from both the US and Kyrgyzstan in the awarding of contracts, but since the main source of state nepotism has been removed, that might come anyway as the interim government strives for transparency and adherence to its promises.
The BBC also reports the rise of of ethnic tensions in Kyrgyzstan:
But some who tried to seek help from the police and did not get a response quickly enough are unconvinced.
They are the residents of Mayevka, a village near Bishkek populated mainly by people of Russian and Turkic origin.
On 19 April, almost two weeks after the anti-government protests, an angry mob numbering in their thousands overran this village. Five people were killed and several homes were destroyed.
Most of the houses belonged to Meskhetian Turks – originally from Georgia, they were deported to Central Asia by Joseph Stalin in 1944.
Dozens of men and women are still occupying land near the village.
They have demanded that the interim government, led by Roza Otunbayeva, give them land.
“We are the sons of Kyrgyzstan. Turks have seized our land, but the land is ours, is it not?” said Syimyk, one of the protesters.
I’d be really interested to know whether the interim government considers this acceptable opportunism in light of the claims made before and during the overthrow of the previous government, or if this is just one more issue to worry about in a long line of issues Otunbayeva et al are trying to work through.
Elections are in October. It’s going to be a long summer.
The BBC seems to be my only consistent updater of news in English relating to Kyrgyzstan; if someone has additional sources that I can read I’d be keen to have them. Despite Bakiyev’s statement refusing to meet charges applied to him in his home nation, he has since been charged in absentia, which is not terribly surprising.
The interim government says his administration ordered troops to open fire on protesters.
“We will seek extradition of Bakiyev to Bishkek and bringing him to criminal responsibility,” Mr Beknazarov said.
Kyrgyzstan is, of course, of strategic importance to both Russia–which seems to be a bit effed off by Bakiyev and attempting to solidify favor with the interim government by returning the Kyrgyz foreign minister–and the United States–which has said, well, nothing that I’ve seen, or at least very little. The Air Force transit center at Manas is of value for its proximity to other states in Central Asia, and though the US almost lost the lease to the place last year, it was renewed and the current interim government has stated (according to a report I read but apparently cannot find right now) that it intends to honour that arrangement.
It’s interesting to watch Russia make such a clear political play and then watch the US bench themselves. Either way, this whole Bakiyev story keeps getting, well, more off-beat. Apparently the former President had himself a little menagerie going on:
A pair of snow leopards and two bear cubs were among the exotic animals found in the private zoo of ousted Kyrgyzstan President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.
A golden eagle, two falcons, four African peacocks and Indian ducks were also found in the zoo at the family home in the southern Jalalabad region.
Taxpayer dollars at work.
Ousted Kyrgyzstan leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev has said he does not intend to return home to rule as president.
But Mr Bakiyev said he no longer recognised his resignation, as the interim leaders had broken the terms under which he stood down.
He remains in Minsk. And in an interesting turn of events, Russia seems to have thrown its lot in with Kyrgyzstan:
Russian forces have detained the former Kyrgyz interior minister and returned him to the Central Asian nation, the interim Kyrgyz government said.
Moldomusa Kongantiyev was held in Moscow and is now in custody in Bishkek, a senior Kyrgyz official said. Mr Kongantiyev served under Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was ousted in bloody protests two weeks ago. Officials said he was being investigated for his role in the violence on 7 April.
The political drama continues to unfold.
Getting to this a bit late. Work ate me whole today, and has only just spit me out the other side.
Kyrgyzstan’s interim government has said it will demand the extradition of the country’s ousted president from Belarus once the investigation into the bloody massacre of April 7 is completed.
“The Kyrgyz people will never know rest until the bloody dictator is brought to justice,” the chief of staff of Kyrgyzstan’s new government Edil Baisalov said.
I have to wonder if the Kyrgyz people are actually that into watching the guy sit in a witness box, or if it’s a little more “hey, let’s vote for a new government now!” But I could most certainly be wrong on that call.
This report on Kabul’s restaurant raids just makes me heartsick. What a terrible, terrible thing.
I’ll admit, I’m not following the British elections nearly as closely as I would be if I were still living in Northern England, but the Guardian’s posting of excerpts of each of the major party candidate’s positions on UK national security and defence, particularly with regard to Afghanistan is worth reading, even if they’re canned. You can download a full text of the remarks in PDF here.
Via Akinoluna, these photos of a FET in action are pretty awesome. I’ve been wondering how effective the FET deployment has been since I was first reading up on them several months ago. If you have any helpful links they’d be well appreciated.
I found this post from al-Sahwa on COIN and culture to be fascinating; I’m still trying to figure out what to say in response but I found it provocative. And in mind-boggling counter information, this FP post titled, misleadingly, Lady GaGa vs. the Occupation set my eyes rolling so hard I think they’ve hit the Sisters by now.
On a far different note, the State Department is apparently looking for freelance writers (via Diplopundit). There’s a second job for you.