Quo Vadis, Kyrgyzstan?

kyrgyz040810.jpgDespite the Russians being the first to recognize Kyrgyzstan’s new leadership (currently led by former foreign minister Roza Otunbayeva, but that could change over the next couple days), things are still a complete mess in Bishkek following yesterday’s violent uprising.  The general message we are seeing from reports on the ground:  it’s not a revolution, not a foreign organized coup (at least there isn’t much evidence of that yet), but rather a violent outbreak of extreme discontent with the corruption of the regime and spiraling prices for electricity and other basic goods.  (UPDATE: Steve LeVine also makes the point that there is nothing “popular” about the uprising – elites have their hands all over the process.)

From Joshua Keating at Foreign Policy:

So what happens now? Opposition leaders claim to have seized control of the government, but no one seems to be officially in charge of the country right now and the prospect of another destabilizing power struggle looms.

“At this point the Kyrgyz opposition doesn’t really have a clearleader,” Marat said. “There are some prominent figures but I’m afraidthat at four or five of them see themselves as president. Kyrgyzstan’smodest history shows that whoever suffered most will try to fight forpower.”

As he heads back to Bishkek, Baisalov reflects on the lessons of 2005,agreeing that a return to authoritarian rule remains a seriouspossibility. “Out of this uprising, will we have a revolution that willchange the country for the better, or will it turn into another coupd’etat? We assumed that by throwing out Askar Akayev’s family, we taughtsociety a lesson. But it didn’t turn out that way.

“All those people who hated Akayev before, they helped another dictator.” We must not fall into this trap again.”