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In the News
Last Updated: 04/14/2005
Bringing Down the Family
Muzaffar Suleymanov

Drawing on information and opinions of friends on the ground in Central Asia, Suleymanov comments on the recent Kyrgyzstan upheaval, its links to other recent revolutions in the region, and what is to be done to assure the change is a positive one.



As I was about to write the second part of the article[1] on the implications of the Ukrainian orange revolution on Central Asia, anti-government protests started to unfold in Kyrgyzstan. Dissatisfied with the parliamentary elections results, unhappy with the way the two rounds of elections were conducted, and trying to prevent the continuing downfall of the state into authoritarianism, members of the Kyrgyz opposition started a wave of public protests. Although they were small in the aftermath of the February 27 round of elections, in less than a month the protests had grown into massive rallies involving thousands of people. Covering Kyrgyz events, international media outlets have been reporting on protesters seizing key government buildings, demobilizing police, taking down President Akaev s portraits from the streets, and establishing popular rule in the biggest cities of the Kyrgyz south.[2] Although the government made an attempt to recapture its offices, this has failed, and opposition leaders were reportedly claiming their control expanded not only to the southern but also in the northern regions.[3] From my personal contacts, I learnt that smaller scale protests had been taking place in the capital and that the opposition youth movements had been distributing leaflets covering events in the south. Amidst the informational war waged by the Kyrgyz government and pro-governmental mass media[4], which hardly covered the protests and their scale, leaflets became the only source of information.

All this had been taking place prior to March 24, 2005 the day when masses of protestors stormed and took over President Akaev s office, ousting him and his regime from power. Although what followed next looting, pillaging, and arson does not quite follow either Georgian or Ukrainian scenarios, the link between current and preceding events nevertheless exists. The fact that opposition leaders have been heavily relying on the protesting masses and trying to immobilize the government in the outlying regions shows that Kyrgyz opposition had been learning lessons from the two preceding revolutions. Hence, there is no need to argue on the effects of Georgian and Ukrainian events on other states run by authoritarian leaders. Rather, one should realize that these similar revolutions are no coincidence and they have shown time and again that authoritarian regimes collapse under popular pressure like dominoes. Although in the case of Kyrgyzstan the opposition did not expect the events to unfold the way they did[5], the general ousting scenario has seen success in all three cases and has certain implications. In the paragraphs to follow I will summarize how the events unfolded and present my opinion on their implication for Central Asia.

[1] Suleymanov, Muzaffar, The Orange Revolution, opinion paper published in Conflict Monitor (February issue), University for Peace on-line journal (

[2] Finn, Peter, Kyrgyz Protesters Seize Sites in South, Washington Post Foreign Service, (March 22, 2005) also available on-line at (accessed on March 23, 2005); see also Eurasia Insight, Revolutionary Momentum Builds in Southern Kyrgyzstan, also available on-line at (accessed on March 23, 2005)

[3] Finn, Peter, op. cit.

[4] Examples of the informational war include: lawsuits against printed media, technical obstacles for the printing house and radio stations, hacker attacks on oppositional media outlets, etc. This has been accompanied by the fierce attack against representatives of opposition in the pro-governmental media.

[5] Peuch, Jean-Christophe, Kyrgyzstan: Eyewitness To The Revolution, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, available on-lien at (accessed on March 25, 2005); see also AkiPress news agency, Nyneshnyaya Vlast Priznala, Chto 24 Marta Sluchaino Zakhvatila Doma Pravitelstva, March 26, 2005 report available on-line at

Muzaffar Suleymanov is a graduate student at the University for Peace, studying International Peace Studies. He is from Uzbekistan.