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FAQ: Kyrgyzstan's Tulip Revolution ||>

What is Kyrgyzstan?

Kyrgyzstan is a former soviet republic situated in Central Asia which neighbors China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It came to be in September 1991, right before the fall of the USSR. At first considered a model democratic country in a sea of neighboring dictatorships, it has since declined into corruption and nepotism.

Kyrgyzstan has a wildly differing population including Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Russians, Tatars, etc. It is known for not having as many resources as its neighbors and so economic reforms were necessary in the beginning to shift away from a crushing communist system. Unfortunately, it began to stagnate until now.

How do you pronounce 'Kyrgyzstan'?

There are a couple of different ways. "Keer-ge-stan" is how I do it while others will say "Keer-geez-stan". Both are correct.

What is going on in Kyrgyzstan?

After the parliamentary elections, which were roundly criticized as being corrupt, people started to protest. These protests started in the southern regions and made their way to the capital city of Bishkek where they resulted in forcing the president to flee.

What is the 'Tulip Revolution'?

The protests in Kyrgyzstan were quickly dubbed the 'Tulip Revolution' to draw comparison with the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the Rose Revolution in Georgia. The tulip is the national flower of Kyrgyzstan, so it fits in with the idea of a nationalized movement.

Does this mean that there will be democracy in Kyrgyzstan?

That remains to be seen. The hope is that the protests will follow others in being peaceful, democratic movements that end up making the country a better place. The movement has not only already shown itself to be a bit more violent, but also seems more factionalized than the other revolutions in former soviet republics.

The president, although no longer in the country, has maintained that he is still in power, while opposition groups have also claimed sovereignty. This could lead to more conflict down the line. One hopes that it's all bluster.

What are some links I can go to for more information?

There are many blogs that have more information than you will find here. For news on the street, some Kyrgyz Peace Corps volunteers are writing about the events when they get a chance. Check out Larry Tweed . For rapidly developing news, go to, or the associated press.

Who are the major leaders in the Kyrgyzstan revolution/revolt/coup?

Askar Akayev has been the president of Kyrgyzstan since 1991. In the beginning of his tenure, he was held up as a democratic light in a sea of dictatorships. However, he settled in to corruption. When rumors abounded that he was seeking to extend his term past the limits set by the constitution, protestors took to the streets demanding his resignation. He has since fled the country and is residing in Moscow. However, he still maintains that he is the president of Kyrgyzstan and is merely taking a short vacation.

Kurmanbek Bakiev: He was the governor of the northern Chu region which is also the former president?s homeland. In 2001, he was forced to tender his resignation as Kyrgyz Prime Minister after some deadly protests in the south. Now, at 56, he is the interim president. He is also popular with intellectuals and the Russians in the country.

Roza Otunbayeva: This 54 year old former ambassador has her following with the intellectuals. She was just recently made the interim foreign minister. When asked by the BBC whether or not she would run for president, she said "I will not think about it."

Azimbek Beknazarov is the new interim general prosecutor. A lawyer, he started as an investigator in a rural prosecutor's office and made a career as a judge in the capital Bishkek. When he was a former MP, he implied that President Akayev be impeached over a land issue and was put in jail on trumped up charges. He was reportedly beaten repeatedly while in jail.

Felix Kulov was rescued from jail by protestors on their way to ousting the president. He has since been put in charge of security, which involves clamping down on the looting that has engulfed Bishkek. Unfortunately in the past couple of days, there have been rumors as to whether or not he?s killed people to keep the peace. He has also said that he will go back to jail after the revolution to serve out the rest of his time, but that remains to be seen.

Ismail Isakov was appointed interim defense minister. The former general and Member of Parliament is a long-time opponent of former President Akayev.

Myktybek Abdyldayev, named interim interior minister, was the general prosecutor until Akayev dismissed him on Wednesday, the day before the opposition swept to power.

Keneshbek Dushebayev, a former head of police in the capital Bishkek and interior minister in the Akayev regime, he was leading protests against Akayev's ousting on Saturday.

What countries would possibly want their fingers in the pie?

Russia would really like to have controlling interests in all the former soviet republics. However, after playing a bad hand during the revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine, the Russians have been keeping the cards close to their chest. They say they were in talks with the opposition leaders, and yet they are welcoming the former president in their capital. Playing both sides could be useful and keep them away from the crow that they've eaten before.

China is the biggest country next to Kyrgyzstan and has been having its own problems as of late with the Xinjiang province of which Kyrgyzstan borders. The Chinese really want stability as it doesn't do to give ideas to an already alienated population.

The other "stans" such as Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have made statements which assert that nothing the Kyrgyz do reflects on them. However, they are not going to take a revolution on their own territory lying down and may engage in preventive measures.

Who are Kyrgyzstan's political parties?

There are about 40 political parties in Kyrgyzstan. Most of the parties have decided to combine into separate election blocs. They include:

The People's Movement of Kyrgyzstan was created by Kurmanbek Bakiev on September 22, 2004 from nine parties and movements. These include the Party of Communists and the Communist Party, the Republican Party, Asaba (which is the political party of interim general prosecutor Azimbek Beknazarov), the Democratic Movement of Kyrgyzstan, Kairan El, New Kyrgyzstan, Erkin Kyrgyzstan, and Erkindik.

The "For Fair Elections" election bloc was formed on May 20, 2004. It includes Ar-Namys (the political party of security leader Felix Kulov), El, Ata-Meken, and Social Democratic parties.

Other political parties of importance are:

KelKel means "New Epoch" and is a student movement committed towards democracy. They say that if liberty doesn't carry on after the revolution, then they will continue to protest until they live in a free society. Alga, Kyrgyzstan! (Forward, Kyrgyzstan!): This is the pro-government party, in which former president Akayev's family ran. Also sometimes confused as the "family party," one could assume this was less about values and more about nepotism. Ata Jurt (Fatherland) is the political party of the interim foreign minister, Roza Otunbaeva. Muratbek Imanaliyev is a former Kyrgyz foreign minister and is a leader of Jany Bagyt.

What are the orange and rose revolutions?

The Orange Revolution refers to the bloodless revolution in Ukraine. It started as a protest after the fraudulent elections in November 2004. In January 2005, new elections were held because of protests and the winner was favorite Viktor Yushchenko. It was called "orange" for the color showed solidarity with Yushchenko's campaign.

The Rose Revolution happened a year earlier in Georgia under much the same circumstance. In November 2003, the presidential elections were rigged by then-president Eduard Shevardnadze. Massive protests ensued until Shevardnadze tendered his resignation. Opposition leader Mikhail Saakashvili won in January 2004. Protesters wore roses, which gave the revolution its name.

Are there other protests going on in the former Soviet Union?

Yes. Protests happened on March 25th in Belarus against President Alexander Lukashenko. They were violently put down. There were also protests in Mongolia, although they seem to be more like democratic demonstrations than revolts.

What if I disagree with your assessment?

That's cool. This is just a first glance at what is going on and was made to answer some simple questions. For a more detailed analysis, go to the links above and find out more!