Kyrgyzstan Roads Lead to Bishkek
President Akayev stated today that he did not intend to use force against the demonstrators. Yet, he must feel the protests building around his home in Bishkek. Now there is news that The Opposition is planning a march on the capital. This could mean the end of the Akayev presidency.
Updates and Highlights on the Kyrgyzstan Protests
* A Pro-Akayev Demonstration in Bishkek
* Official Claims Opposition is Group of Thugs Funded from Abroad
* Is Opposition Organizing a March to the Capital?
* “Ground Control to Major Salizhan”
The Institue for War and Peace Reporting describes the scene today in Bishkek:
As Akayev addressed the new legislators, between 8,000 and 10,000 people were attending a rally in support of his rule in the square outside the government building.
Most appeared to be students who had come with their lecturers, along with other public servants. The front ranks were equipped with banners saying, “Students are with the president!”
Some participants quietly complained to reporters that they had been pressured to turn up under threat of expulsion from college or dismissal from their jobs. “Eight out of ten of us are neutral – we’re not for the opposition but we’re not for Akayev either,” said one student. “We were forced to come by our deans and rectors.”
As the rally went on, police cadets who had been stationed around the square to keep order lay down and fell asleep on their riot shields.
There were suggestions that demonstrators would head for Bishkek, but a report from the Russian news agency Interfax that a column of buses had actually set off from Osh was denied by Irina Gordienko, a reporter for the Moscow newspaper Novaya Gazeta who was on the ground.
Gordienko reported that the demonstrators in Osh were being joined by others arriving by bus from the town of Uzgen to take part in a possible march.
Four or five hundred protesters did arrive in Bishkek on March 22, but they had come from the Naryn region in the north, rather than from southern Kyrgyzstan. Many were supporters of Akylbek Japarov, a politician who was prevented from standing for election in his Kochkor constituency. Japarov has become a significant figure as he is national head of the People’s Unity Movement, an umbrella group coordinating protests across Kyrgyzstan.
Bishkek certainly seemed to be anticipating of large-scale protests. Security around the central government building was stepped up, with armed members of the National Guard encircling the area. Mounted police were seen patrolling the city streets.
President of Kyrgyzstan Askar Akayev has accused the opposition of getting funds from abroad.
“Unfortunately, our republic has, too, been faced with dangerous destructive actions of the irreconcilable opposition, which are doing damage to the interests of our people. Society should create an atmosphere of intolerance to the actions of those who, guided by foreign directives and at the expense of foreign money, are doing damage to the interests of their people”, he said in parliament.
“Ground Control to Major Salizhan”
Jim Oberg, space commentator and historian providied this information:
The situation in Kyrghizia might be ameliorated if the republic’s most famous son, Salizhan Sharipov, now in space aboard the International Space Station (he is a Russian citizen and a cosmonaut), made some pacifying, unifying remarks. The US could help by encouraging him to do so, via NASA.
Sharipov is an ethnic Uzbek, from an Uzbek village that is within the borders of Kyrghizia. Both ethnic groups are closely-related ‘Turkic’ cultures.