KYRGYZ MOURN UPRISING VICTIMS  Nation pays its respects for the dead as new 
authorities attempt to stabilise the country.  By Ainagul Abdrakhmanova in 

EYEWITNESS: BISHKEK UNREST  Kyrgyz journalist recounts confrontation between 
protesters and government troops on the streets of Bishkek.  By Urmat Imanaliev 
in Bishkek

KYRGYZ LEADER TRIES TO RALLY SUPPORT  Defiance comes as interim government 
announces plans for presidential election after bloody revolt.  By Ainagul 
Abdrakhmanova, Timur Toktonaliev and Dina Tokbaeva in Bishkek

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Nation pays its respects for the dead as new authorities attempt to stabilise 
the country.

By Ainagul Abdrakhmanova in Bishkek

Thousands of people gathered in the centre of the capital Bishkek April 9 for 
the first of two days of national mourning to pay tribute to people killed 
during anti-government protests this week.

The new interim authorities have sought to stabilise the country following the 
violence of April 7, and sent a delegation to Moscow for talks with Russian 

They say they have also launched criminal cases against officials suspected of 
ordering troops to open fire on demonstrators.

At the same time, the Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek Bakiev, who is believed to 
have fled the city for the south, has again been urged to resign and leave the 

Seventy-six people were killed and hundreds were wounded during clashes in 
Bishkek and other towns, as unrest over standards of living boiled over with 
troops opening fire on the crowds.

At the central Ala-Too square, the scene of the unrest, thousands of mourners 
prayed for the dead and the national flag was lowered.

According to a representative of the Bishkek administration Turatbek 
Maadylbekov, the majority of funerals will take place on April 10.

The government will issue a decree on providing compensation for the victims, 
Kanybek Imanaliev, chairman of the committee for organising funerals for 
protest victims, said.

The families of those who died will be given compensation of 22,222 US dollars, 
whereas those wounded would be offered up to more than 1,000 dollars, he said.

The head of the interim government Roza Otunbaeva announced that the personal 
security of ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiev would be guaranteed on condition 
he resigns.

Addressing journalists after her meeting with the representative of the 
Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Otunbaeva said, “Kurmanbek 
Bakiev still has an opportunity to leave the country.”

She also said that a criminal case has been launched against his brother, 
Janysh Bakiev who was head of the state protection agency in charge of Bakiev’s 
security. According to Otunbaeva, it was Janysh who gave the order to open fire 
on protesters approaching the White House, where the president’s office is 

“There are testimonies of people who were part of that team. Cases have been 
launched against some representatives of security forces and now it is 
important to restore justice,” she said.

“I visited today hospitals, there are those who are in a critical condition and 
others who are wounded,” continued Otunbaeva, saying that given what had 
happened there was no place for Bakiev in the country.

She also confirmed that there have been attempts by Bakiev and his circle to 
destabilise the situation.

“In three public places explosives have been found... There is evidence that 
supporters and former associates of Bakiev are offering money to hit men to 
target some people,” she said.

“Bakiev’s family members are hoping to come back and believe it is just a 
matter of couple of days.”

According to Otunbaeva, there are no tensions between northern and southern 
parts of the country. The latter were Bakiev’s powerbase, but support for him 
there has dwindled in recent years. Indeed, Otunbaeva said that two southern 
cities, Osh and Jalalabad, are controlled by supporters of the interim 

“The situation there is, of course, more difficult than here [in Bishkek], but 
we have a lot of supporters there,” she said.

Restoring law and order in the capital is emerging as one of the priorities for 
the new government. Overnight on April 8, there were reports of clashes in a 
number of Bishkek districts between shopping centre security guards and 
looters. But the interior ministry said on April 9 that the situation in the 
capital was stable, as a result of the coordinated efforts of police and a 
voluntary citizens’ group.

One of the initiators of the latter, a well known boxer and member of the 
Kyrgyz parliament, Orzubek Nazarov, said the number of people involved in the 
citizens’ group reached 3,000. They are young sportsmen, reserve and retired 
military officers and ordinary residents, he said.

“There were a lot of calls overnight, a lot of work,” Nazarov said.

He said that while the looting had been stopped, there had been cases of 
illegal seizure of land in some areas of Bishkek.

Meanwhile, a delegation of the interim government, led by the deputy interim 
prime minister in charge of economy Almazbek Atambaev, left for talks in 
Moscow. It followed a telephone conversation between Otunbaeva and Russian 
prime minister Vladimir Putin on April 8.

Stressing what he described as the special relationship between the two 
countries, Putin reassured Otunbaeva that Russia will continue to assist the 
Kyrgyz people.

According to political analyst Nur Omarov, the main aim of Atambaev’s visit to 
Moscow is to discuss Russian humanitarian aid for Kyrgyzstan. Omarov also said 
that Russia will remain a strategic partner of Kyrgyzstan.

Ainagul Abdrakhmanova is an IWPR-trained journalist in Kyrgyzstan.


Kyrgyz journalist recounts confrontation between protesters and government 
troops on the streets of Bishkek.

By Urmat Imanaliev in Bishkek

I joined the column of protesters as it reached the Central Department Store in 
Bishkek at 13.30 on April 7. It was led by a group of young men aged between 18 
and 25, some of them holding blue and red flags representing the opposition - 
blue for the Social Democratic Party and red for the Ata Meken party.  

They looked organised and there were no disturbances around the store. The 
column was heading to Ala-Too square in the centre of Bishkek.

I was waiting for the arrival of the demonstrators with a group of ordinary 
residents including taxi drivers and small traders who were happy to welcome 
them and join their ranks.

These Bishkek residents came to the city centre to catch the protesters after 
they witnessed how demonstrators had clashed with the police earlier and forced 
the police to back off.

One of them told me that protesters disarmed some of the policemen, also taking 
their riot shields and bullet-proof vests. Word of this spread quickly across 
the city and had a galvanising effect on people’s mood.

On the way to Ala -Too some bystanders joined the column, among them university 
teachers and writers. Some of them told me of their deep dissatisfaction with 
the policies of deposed president Kurmanbek Bakiev.

When the group reached Ala-Too square it was confronted by the police, some of 
whom were armed with machine guns, others with protective shields and batons.

Police used teargas and smoke grenades but this did not deter the 
demonstrators, who started to throw stones at them. It was at this moment that 
gunshots and machine gun rounds were heard. Although part of the crowd 
dispersed, a core of protesters stayed put.

It was raining. People started to feel the effects of the teargas, but 
encouraged by new protesters coming in from behind, those at the front just 
rubbed their eyes and stood their ground.

Clashes were taking place in several areas. By about 14.00, people were trying 
to take over the White House, which houses the president’s office. Behind the 
high railings around the building, a group of security forces armed with 
machine guns could be seen. On the roof of the White House, I spotted special 
forces officers with rifles.

Every attempt by demonstrators to get to the building was met with gunfire. 
Despite the danger, the constant sound of shooting seemed to bring an adrenalin 
rush to the young male protesters. Their faces bore expressions of 
determination and bravery.

Fifteen minutes later, a new group of about ten protestors arrived from the 
direction of Abdrakhmanov Street. Some had machine guns, apparently weapons 
taken from the police after the morning protest.

The clashes intensified. I believe it was at this moment that the first 
injuries happened.

After another 15 minutes of shooting, the mood in the crowd started to change. 
Many were frightened. People looked lost, their aggression giving way to 
feelings of dismay. There was clearly no central control behind the protesters.

Young people, the core of the demonstration, were angered by the sight of the 
blood of their fellow protesters and seemed determined to go on at any cost.

It was remarkable that the demonstrators were so determined to overthrow Bakiev 
that they were prepared to ignore the danger they were in. I remember thinking 
that this must be what war is like.

I went to the hospital nearby where the first casualties started arriving at 
14.45. The medical staff were unprepared but their professionalism soon kicked 
in and the first wounded person was sent to the operating theatre.

At 14.50 the first dead body, a man, was delivered to the hospital. A bullet 
had entered his chest and exited his right side. The number of wounded began 
rising rapidly. The dead, too, mostly young people hit by gunshots to the head, 
chest and legs. I saw a young girl among them.

According to eyewitnesses, they were hit by snipers from the windows and roof 
of the White House. People’s anger was increasing. There was a lot blood and 
the situation was out of control. Protesters organised themselves to help the 

At the hospital, I helped doctors to move the wounded. When I left it was with 
a deep feeling of compassion for those who had died and a sense that Bakiev was 
not worth these young people’s lives.

Urmat Imanaliev is a journalist with the Kyrgyz weekly Asman.kg.


Defiance comes as interim government announces plans for presidential election 
after bloody revolt.

By Ainagul Abdrakhmanova, Timur Toktonaliev and Dina Tokbaeva in Bishkek

Kyrgyzstan president Kurmanbek Bakiev refused to step down and tried to rally 
supporters in the southern city of Jalalabad a day after fleeing the capital 
Bishkek amid bloody unrest.

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

Clashes in Bishkek and other towns killed 75 people on April 7 as unrest over 
standards of living boiled over and troops opened fire on the crowds. Around 
400 people were injured, according to the Kyrgyz health ministry.

Analysts said that until Bakiev’s status is resolved, the situation will remain 

In his first reaction to the riots, Bakiev in a statement on April 8 accused 
leaders of the opposition of overthrowing the government and said he is not 

“I am stating that as a president I have not resigned and am not resigning,” 
Bakiev said.

In Jalalabad, his entourage held a meeting on Bakiev’s behalf to try to rally 
support. A resident of the city who took part, Ilyas Zakirov, told IWPR there 
was no widespread support for the president’s appeals.

Zakirov said Bakiev himself did not appear in front of the crowd of around 
5,000 people who gathered in the city’s central square around midday. The 
ousted governor of Jalalabad and a close associate of Bakiev, Koshbai Masirov, 
announced at the meeting that that a committee to defend Bakiev had been set up.

Bakiev’s representatives told the meeting he promised to improve the situation 
in the country and to dismiss all his relatives who had been given important 
government posts.

His eldest son occupies a high-ranking post in the national security service. 
His second son was last year appointed head of the government agency for 
economic development and innovation. A brother is the country’s ambassador in 

Some representatives of the country’s large Uzbek minority let it be known that 
they do not intend to offer support to Bakiev.

Political analyst Mars Sariev said the Jalalabad region was the only place 
where Bakiev could hope to mobilise support to use as a card in dealing with 
the new interim government.

“It is important for him now to gather a lot of support and to turn it into a 
political factor that would force the interim ‘Government of People’s Trust’ to 
engage in negotiations with him,” Sariev said.

Asked about the chances of Bakiev making a comeback, Sariev said that it would 
depend on how successful the interim government will be, “It will depend on 
mistakes the interim government might make.”

He said with public meetings taking place across the country, the new 
government could find it difficult to react swiftly to people’s demands.

IWPR Central Asia commentator John MacLeod said there were signs that the coup 
would give the new leaders a second chance to stage a Tulip Revolution – a 
reference to the overthrow of the previous president Askar Akaev in 2005. “This 
is the good guys having another go,” he said.

As long as Bakiev was prevented from staging a successful counter-coup, the 
indications were that there could be a smooth transition after this week’s 
bloodbath. “The system has rolled over and accepted the new government,” 
MacLeod said.

“If they can get hold of this thing and external forces will allow them to do 
it – and I think they will – and Bakiev goes away, they have another chance of 
getting it right.”

The previous divide between north and south in Kyrgyzstan, with Bakiev relying 
on a power base in the south, was less relevant now because many southern 
politicians had joined the movement to oust him, MacLeod said.

“Almost everyone in the Tulip Revolution from north and south is incredibly 
hostile to him and wants to see the back of him,” he added

“This was unanticipated but in the circumstances, it is the best option going.”

Sariev said Bakiev might try to reach a deal on his immunity and safety for his 
family and then resign on television.

“If this is not guaranteed then the situation in the south, and possibly in 
Bishkek, could worsen further as he still has supporters and what’s more they 
are armed and could potentially provoke disturbances,” Sariev said.

In Bishkek, members of the interim government said at a news conference they 
were working on reversing Bakiev’s policies.

Otunbaeva said of the April 7 bloody uprising, “Democracy in Kyrgyzstan is 
rapidly moving forward in response to the steps backwards that had been taking 

The interim government would be in place for the next six months until a 
presidential election is held, she said.

It will work on changing the constitution, the election law and law on public 
meetings, all of which had been amended under Bakiev’s leadership to strengthen 
his power.

Otunbaeva pledged to reverse the decision to increase prices of heating and 
electricity made at the beginning of the year, a move that hit ordinary people 
hard and was one of the main reasons for widespread discontent with the 

She also promised the renationalisation of the privatised state energy company 
Severelektro and telecoms company Kyrgyztelecom.

Jailed former defence minister Ismail Isakov, who was released on April 7, told 
journalists patrols will be set up to prevent looting. He said that the army 
and border protection force have sided with the new government.

Otunbaeva also presented her interim cabinet. The head of the opposition Social 
Democratic Party, Almazbek Atambaev, was put in charge of the economy; the 
leader of the Ak Shumkar party, Temir Sariev, was made responsible for the 
finance ministry. Ata Meken party leader Omurbek Tekebaev will drive 
constitutional reforms and Azimbek Beknazarov, a prominent member of the 
People’s Movement, was put in charge of the legal system.

Ainagul Abdurahmanova and Timur Toktonaliev are IWPR-trained reporters in 

Dina Tokbaeva is IWPR Kyrgyzstan editor.

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