Kyrgyzstan: critical moment has come

Opposition between Kyrgyzstan official authorities and majority of the southern population, that lasted for about two months in the republic, resulted in failure of the government. Being under the threat of a civil war, President Askar Akayev called an extraordinary Security Council meeting on May 22 to dismiss Prime Minister Kurmanbek Bakiyev, head of the presidential administration Amanbek Karpykulov and General Public Prosecutor Chubak Abyshkayev. The officials were thus declared guilty of the mass disorder resulting in a tragedy in Aksy, when six civilians were killed and about one hundred wounded in clashes with police.

Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev spoke at the Security Council meeting and accused the executive authority of inability to forecast development of political situation and adequately react to extraordinary situations. Officials who ordered to shoot defenseless people in the Aksy tragedy were not named at the meeting.

Vice-premier Nikolay Tanayev, head of the Commission for investigation of mass disorders in Kyrgyzstan’s south, was appointed interim prime minister. Other members of the Government will stay at their workplaces until new appointments take place. After the meeting Security Council Secretary Misir Ashirkulov told journalists, tension in the republic’s south would certainly reduce and peaceful life would recommence. However, experts and observers consider the forecast dubious and excessively optimistic. The picketers, who have been holding the Bishkek – Osh highway, Kyrgyzstan’s main road, freed it just for a short period. To lift the blockade one and for all the picketers demand that two important conditions should be satisfied. The people demand that deputy Azimbek Beknazarov, who was arrested for a crime allegedly committed seven years ago, should be exempt from criminal responsibility completely, and all officials guilty of the Aksy tragedy should be called into criminal account. As we already know, the demands were not satisfied. That is why another, even more cruel outburst of tension can be expected. And what is more, demands of impeachment to President Akayev have become frequent of late.

The televised Security Council session revealed, the president still believed that leaders of “an irresponsible opposition” and “cynical politicians who have little in common with the population’s interests” were mainly guilty of the Aksy tragedy. And punishment of members of the Government made in public, was just an attempt to appease the public opinion and lessen social tension. To all appearances, majority of the Government will retain the posts.

At the same time, dismissal of Prime Minister Kurmanbek Bakiyev should be considered as decided. Appointment of interim prime minister confirms this fact. Nobody doubts that Nikolay Tanayev is a temporary official on the post. He is considered to be a weak shilly-shally politician of practically no authority and influence in the region. It was seen in investigation of the Aksy tragedy, when Nikolay Tanayev simply followed directions of the White House.

As for Kurmanbek Bakiyev, he fell victim to his own popularity. For several pastmonths many experts mentioned him as a most likely candidate to the presidential post as a person famous for concern in social problems and implacability to corrupt people.

It is strange, but during the Security Council session President Akayev avoided touching upon the dismissed prime minister. Well-informed political scientists, Russian ones are among them as well (for example, Professor Alexey Malashenko with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, one of the best experts on Middle Asia problems) explain, the conflict that recently outburst in Kyrgyzstan, is caused not by actions of officials and distribution of disputable territories between Kyrgyzstan and China. Thy say, the conflict descends from a traditional opposition between North and South.

One more problem was not touched upon at the meeting. Nobody in the republic believes that the long-lasting protest actions and pickets in different parts of the country were organized by a small group of opposition deputies, as it is said in reports of a governmental commission. Indeed, the opposition does not have enough finance and political authority to organize such actions. It has been supposed several times already, there is some “third power” in the republic that aims at destabilization in Kyrgyzstan and impeachment to the president. The problem is never touched upon at official governmental sessions, but well-informed sources say, Askar Akayev has got adversaries even in his closest circle. One of them, Amanbek Karpykulov, already revealed himself during the Aksy tragedy. It was mentioned at the Security Council meeting that it was he who prohibited governor of the Jelal-Abad region to meet with the mutinous population. When the people came to the governor themselves, they were received with armed police troops and bullets.

Nowadays these politicians, who are displeased with the incumbent authorities, have joined hands against President Akayev. It is also reported, members of the opposition are creating “a shadow cabinet” to seize power from the president who is said to be loosing his strength.

Under the present-day conditions President Akayev is unlikely to succeed with creation of “a cabinet of people’s trust” instead of the dissolved government. At the Security Council session the president mentioned, he would appoint new ministers only after consultations with the parliament and the people. But the opposition has already denied this attempt of reconciliation. The opposition’s objectives go further. They wish to avail of president’s weakening positions and seize the authority. They may even organize extraordinary elections for this purpose. It is not ruled out that the opposition will organize new protest actions in connection with a trial on deputy Azimbek Beknazarov scheduled for May 24. The president did not risk to rehabilitate him once and for all. And once again he jeopardized himself doing so.

Yury Razgulyayev PRAVDA.Ru Bishkek Kyrgyzstan

Translated by Maria Gousseva

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