government as president flees, following day of political violence in which 
scores died.  By Timur Toktonaliev and Ainagul Abdrakhmanova in Bishkek

**** NEW 






CENTRAL ASIA RADIO: http://iwpr.net/centralasiaradio

CENTRAL ASIA PROGRAMME HOME: http://iwpr.net/centralasia 

IWPR COMMENT: http://iwpr.net/comment 




**** www.iwpr.net 

REPORTING CENTRAL ASIA RSS: http://www.iwpr.net/en/rca/rss.xml 

RECEIVE FROM IWPR: Readers are urged to subscribe to IWPR's full range of free 
electronic publications at: http://iwpr.net/subscribe 

GIVE TO IWPR: IWPR is wholly dependent upon grants and donations. For more 
information about how you can support IWPR go to: http://iwpr.net/donate 

**** www.iwpr.net 


Ex-foreign minister forms government as president flees, following day of 
political violence in which scores died.

By Timur Toktonaliev and Ainagul Abdrakhmanova in Bishkek

The opposition in Kyrgyzstan says it has dissolved parliament and taken power 
after a bloody uprising forced President Kurmanbek Bakiev to flee the capital.

The opposition leader, former foreign minister Roza Otunbaeva, said the interim 
government was fully in control and had begun distributing portfolios.

Clashes in the capital Bishkek, and other towns killed at least 60 people as 
unrest over standards of living boiled over and troops opened fire on the 
crowds. Around 400 people were injured, according to reporters on the scene. 
Some reports put the death toll as high as 74.

CNN said Bishkek was calm on April 8 except for small groups of people chanting 
near the marble government office, known as the White House.

Otunbaeva told 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 was trying to consolidate his supporters to help restore his power.

"We will not let him come back to power," Abdygany Erkebayev, a former 
parliament speaker and opposition figure, said.
There was no public statement from Bakiev.

Otunbayeva added that the former prime minister had handed in a resignation 
letter, and the interim government was now in control based on the constitution.

The new body of power replaces the president and cabinet ministers, she said.

On April 7, several thousand demonstrators marched on the White House, where 
the president’s office is located, in the centre of Bishkek.

As the crowds reached the White House, units of the OMON special police in full 
riot gear attempted to dispel them using tear gas and smoke grenades. 
Protesters attempted to get past the high railings that ring the building but 
were repelled. A day later, they had taken the building over, however.

Eyewitnesses said police also opened fire using live ammunition.

“There have been several attempts to storm the White House, but they’ve been 
driven back,” said a journalist who was on the spot. “There are two ranks of 
police with combat weapons behind the White House railings. They are using 
their weapons and tear gas. An OMON vehicle seized by the opposition supporters 
is now ablaze.”

As the journalist called IWPR’s office with her account, gunfire could be heard 
in the background.

She said that although the gate had been smashed, no one had got through the 
fence because of the OMON cordon. The police in turn were staying behind the 

Another eyewitness on the scene, who works in the local NGO sector, added, “The 
people are very aggressive.”

The health ministry issued a statement, reported by the official news agency 
Kabar, saying that as of ten in the evening, 35 people had died in Bishkek, and 
there were more than 400 casualties in unrest across the country. An earlier 
update from the ministry said that most of the 17 dead at that point had 
suffered gunshot injuries.

What had begun as a fairly routine opposition rally on the morning of April 7 
grew rapidly and unexpectedly. Several hundred demonstrators gathered outside 
the headquarters of the Social Democratic Party, one of the main forces in the 
United People’s Movement coalition.

The opposition had planned to hold a “kurultay”, an outdoor assembly of 
supporters, to voice a series of demands including an end to high electricity 
prices introduced earlier this year, and concerns at the way major 
privatisations are being handled.

Police failed to contain the crowd, and their numbers grew rapidly as they set 
off towards the White House, reaching between 4,000 and 6,000 by the time they 
got there. Some in the crowd were gripping bars and sticks and the mood was 

They were joined by hundreds of people coming in the opposite direction from 
the Dordoy Bazaar, a large outdoor market on the fringes of the city. 
Eyewitnesses said trading came to a halt at the market.

People at work in the capital were sent home, and some shop-owners removed 
their stock from store fronts for fear of looting.


The protests in Bishkek were sparked by events the previous day, April 6, in 
the town of Talas, due east of the capital, where crowds stormed the building 
of the regional governor’s office, again protesting about high utilities prices.

On April 7, an eyewitness in Talas who works in the NGO sector told IWPR that 
the situation was “unstable and very tense”, with some 10,000 people still on 
the streets.

After the seizure of the governor’s office, he said, “People have now 
surrounded the police department building, but specialised and other police are 
using… [stun] grenades and tear gas whenever people get too close. The people 
are very aggressive.”

The Kabar news agency said the interior ministry had denied internet reports 
that Minister of Internal Affairs Moldomusa Kongantiev had been killed in 
Talas. The agency later reported that Kongantiev was seriously injured and was 
being held hostage by protesters inside the regional governor’s offices. It 
said Deputy Prime Minister Akylbek Japarov was now in the Talas regional 
hospital after being released by the demonstrators.

IWPR’s contact in the town described the backdrop to the unrest in Talas.

“All this began after they increase electricity prices, mobile phone charges 
and taxes,” he said. “It came all at the same time, and people simply became 
aggressive because prices had been dramatically raised without any attempt at 
an explanation.”

As in Bishkek, the protest began on a modest scale with 50 or so people 
gathering outside the police building in Talas to voice anger at the detention 
there of Bolotbek Sherniazov, the Ata Meken party’s man in Talas. Yet by the 
end of the day there were thousands of people, and the governor’s office was in 
their hands.

RFE/RL radio’s Kyrgyz service reported that the provincial governor’s building 
in Naryn, a region south of Bishkek, had also been seized.


The authorities responded to the national crisis by arresting opposition party 
leaders – Ata Meken leader Omurbek Tekebaev and party officials Sherniazov, 
Dyishonkul Chotonov and Anvar Artykov, and Uluu Birimdik leader Emil Kaptagaev. 
Some, including Tekebaev, were later released.

Social Democrat leader Almazbek Atambaev, who stood against Bakiev in last 
year’s presidential election, was arrested, despite the presence of around 200 
supporters who surrounded his home.

President Bakiev ordered a state of emergency in Bishkek, Talas and Naryn, with 
a curfew from ten in the evening to six in the morning. Emergency headquarters 
are to be set up in each place bringing together police, security, health 
ministry officials and the towns’ mayors. Public meetings will be banned, 
police will check personal ID and cars, and weapons and dangerous chemicals 
will be confiscated.

The final point in the decree says that “the work of political parties that 
hinder stabilisation will be subject to restrictions”.

Internet connections were lost in Bishkek and Talas. The mobile network was 
overloaded but still working.

Highways including the main road leading south from Bishkek to the city of Osh 
were blocked off by police.


Mass demonstrations were a feature of Bakiev’s first few years in office, after 
his erstwhile allies – the opposition groups which helped him to power after 
then president Askar Akaev fled the country in the March 2005 “Tulip 
Revolution” – turned against him.

These protests appear to stem more from grassroots concerns and to be less 
stage-managed by the opposition parties. In both Talas and Bishkek, groups of 
opposition supporters were swiftly joined by large numbers of residents, 
apparently moved to protest by anger over the price hikes rather than by 
political concerns.

“The public actions now taking place are a response by the provinces to the 
domestic policy of the Bakiev regime,” said a local analyst, who asked for his 
name to be withheld. “There’s been widespread anger at the consequences of an 
economic crisis whose end is not yet sight, at the dramatic and simultaneous 
price rises for electricity and mobile calls, and at the sell-off of state 
enterprises and companies of strategic importance.

“This is an ‘overdue penalty’ for the authorities.”

He said that in contrast to the position facing Akaev in March 2005, “the 
Bakiev regime is a lot stronger… and its law-enforcement agencies are prepared 
to use force against opposition or popular actions”.

But he warned that choosing to crush the protests could be a mistake.

“Crushing popular actions through force will narrow the window of opportunity 
for defusing the situation peacefully and holding talks with the opposition. It 
will place the Bakiev regime in a stark position – it can either hold on to 
power by force, or else lose it,” he said.

Leading political analyst Mars Sariev believes protests that were driven 
largely by economic concerns have crystallised into something overtly political.

“I think this has moved into the phase of a growing conflict,” he said.

Sariev said the best hope now was for leaders of other Central Asian republics 
or other former Soviet Union states to force Kyrgyzstan’s government and 
opposition into negotiations.

Timur Toktonaliev and Ainagul Abdurahmanova are IWPR-trained reporters in 

Additional reporting provided by other IWPR staff and contributors.

**** www.iwpr.net 

REPORTING CENTRAL ASIA provides the international community with a unique 
insiders' perspective on the region. Using our network of local journalists, 
the service publishes news and analysis from across Central Asia on a weekly 

The service forms part of IWPR's Central Asia Project based in Almaty, Bishkek, 
Tashkent and London, which supports media development and encourages better 
local and international understanding of the region.

IWPR's Reporting Central Asia is supported by the UK Community Fund. The 
service is published online in English and Russian. 

The opinions expressed in Reporting Central Asia are those of the authors and 
do not necessarily represent those of the publication or of IWPR.

REPORTING CENTRAL ASIA: Editor-in-Chief: Anthony Borden; Managing Editor: Yigal 
Chazan; Senior Editor and Acting Central Asia Director: John MacLeod; Central 
Asia Editor: Saule Mukhametrakhimova.

IWPR PROJECT DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT: Executive Director: Anthony Borden; Head 
of Programmes: Niall MacKay

**** www.iwpr.net 

IWPR is an international network of four organisations which are governed by 
boards of senior journalists, peace-building experts, regional specialists and 
business professionals.

IWPR builds democracy at the frontlines of conflict and change through the 
power of professional journalism. IWPR programmes provide intensive hands-on 
training, extensive reporting and publishing, and ambitious initiatives to 
build the capacity of local media. Supporting peace-building, development and 
the rule of law, IWPR gives responsible local media a voice.

IWPR - Africa, P.O. Box 3317, Johannesburg 2121
Tel: +2 711 268 6077

IWPR - Europe, 48 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8LT, UK
Tel: +44 20 7831 1030

IWPR – United States, 1325 G Street, NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005, 
United States
Tel: +1 202 449 7717

1515 Broadway, 11th Floor, New York, New York 10036, United States
Tel: +1 212 520 3950

Stichting IWPR Nederland, Eisenhowerlaan 77 K, 2517 KK Den Haag, The Netherlands
Tel: +31 70 338 9016

For further details on this project and other information services and media 
programmes, go to: www.iwpr.net 

ISSN: 1477-7924 Copyright © 2009 The Institute for War & Peace Reporting 

**** www.iwpr.net 

If you wish to change your subscription details or unsubscribe please go to:  

This electronic mail message and any attached files are intended solely for the 
named recipients and may contain confidential and proprietary business 
information of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) and its 
affiliates. If you are not the named addressee, you should not disseminate, 
distribute or copy this e-mail.

Institute for War & Peace Reporting. 48 Gray's Inn Road, London WC1X 8LT, UK. 
Registered with charitable status in the United Kingdom (charity reg. no: 
1027201, company reg. no: 2744185); the United States under IRS Section 
501(c)(3);  The Netherlands as a charitable foundation; and South Africa under 
Section 21.

Reply via email to