THE KYRGYZ REVOLUTION OF 2010: THE CAUSES AND POSSIBLE POST-REVOLUTIONARY DEVELOPMENTS

Stanislav CHERNIAVSKIY


Stanislav Cherniavskiy, D.Sc. (Hist.), Director, Center for Post-Soviet Studies, MGIMO-University at the Foreign Ministry of Russia (Moscow, Russia)


Introduction

In April 2010, Kyrgyzstan was shaken by the second revolution in the last five years. Discontented people led by the opposition took power by storm. President Bakiev escaped to the countrys south; on 8 April, the country acquired an Interim Government with Rosa Otunbaeva at its head. This made the revolution (very much needed in Kyrgyzstan according to the opposition) an accomplished yet not final fact. The deposed president, a refugee in Belarus, refuses to accept his defeat and is determined to fight, if his contradictory statements are to be believed.

The coup came as no surprise to the countrys neighbors or the world community: everyone knew that the presidents clan had been shamelessly plundering the countrys meager national wealth. Changes were in the air, but the timing was a surprise. Russia, which was getting ready for the 65th anniversary of the victory over fascism, the United States prepared to reset it relations with Moscow, and Kazakhstan busy implementing its program as the current OSCE Chair found the revolution ill-timed.

The peasant riot (the best possible description of the unbridled looting) put an end to the era of Color Revolutions in the post-Soviet expanse when presidents voluntarily parted with power with hardly any bloodshed. The time of noisy regime changes of the flower period, when the presidents elected by popular vote promptly abandoned their posts to avoid bloodshed, has ended.

The tragic events in Kyrgyzstan, which claimed 80 lives and left behind looted and burned down offices, shops, and private homes, raised the question: Qui bono?

The Causes and the Driving Forces

In the spring of 2005, the new rulers headed by Kurmanbek Bakiev presented the nation with a positive development program. On the one hand, they planned to defeat the nepotism, corruption, and inefficiency that persisted during the fifteen years of Akaevs regime; on the other, they promised a dignified life for all citizens. This called for constitutional changes; in 2006-2007, the Fundamental Law was amended three times against the background of the mounting disagreements among the leaders of the Tulip Revolution. The latest amendments not only augmented President Bakievs powers, but also made him independent of the checks-and-balances system of developed democracies.

After concentrating power in his hands, however, the president did nothing to launch the promised radical changes. Over a million of the countrys citizens had to go abroad in search of work. Experts believe that as many as 800 thousand of them will never come back. The exodus of Russian speakers went on unabated; society remained as regionalized and as criminalized as ever. The country remained even more dependent on foreign aid, which whetted the appetites of the elite and intensified the rivalry among its political groups. In other words, the social base of President Bakiev and


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