Kyrgyz Anti-Govt Riots

Riot Police Open Fire on Protesters in Kyrgyzstan – AOL News

Xinhuanet has some pretty good coverage of the events: Unrest in Kyrgyzstan‎

I’ve been quietly watching events in the former Soviet Union for a number of years, particularly in the areas I’ve visited in my travels. Kyrgyzstan is one such place, albeit my time there was a mere few hours. I’m actually more surprised the people there to lash out over the corruption in Kyrgyzstan sooner. Bakiyev’s corrupt government was lucky to last this long given the last spate of violence over corruption that brought Bakiyev to power. Add in the ridiculous utility rate increases (on top of other things like a value-added tax (VAT)) and naturally the poor and struggling workers were going to say enough was enough even without the opposition fanning the flames.

As it stands now it appears the protesters have effectively crippled Bakiyev’s government if not overthrown it. By all accounts the opposition has formed a new government already. Of course this has led to claims that this was planned by Russia’s Putin but Putin claims Russia is not involved in Kyrgyz events (‘RIA Novosti’). I wouldn’t put it past Putin to stir up trouble in the Stans like he did in Georgia and th Southern Caucuses but I suspect this time he may actually be telling the truth. With him it’s always good to follow the old proverb: Trust, but Verify.

So some Americans may wonder why we should care about Kyryzstan. Well, for one thing there is the military base at Manas U.S. forces currently use to support operations in Afghanistan. Losing the facility wouldn’t really hinder the U.S. effort in Afghanistan much but it would slow things down a little until alternate sites were established. And while it appears the opposition wants the U.S. out of Manas, I doubt it would be done immediately and provide more than ample time for the U.S. to adopt another suitable location.

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