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KYRGYZ AUTHORITIES AND OPPOSITION BOTH NEED DIALOGUE - EXPERTS

RIA Novosti

MOSCOW, March 22. (RIA Novosti)-Yesterday, the opposition captured all strategic facilities (state buildings, the airport and television) in Osh, the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan. Izvestia, Vedomosti and Gazeta cover events in detail.

Public disturbances followed the parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan. According to official preliminary results, supporters of incumbent President Askar Akayev won the elections. Presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan are scheduled for October. In accordance with the Constitution, Akayev cannot run for another term. The opposition claims that Akayev rigged the parliamentary elections and plans to manipulate the new parliament to extend his term.

Sergei Mikheyev from the Center for Political Technologies says southern clans are the driving force of the opposition. Their authority became limited after Akayev, a representative of northern clans, came to power in 1990, the expert points out. At present, Akayev controls the situation in the north and in the capital, Bishkek. In these circumstances, Mikheyev believes a compromise has to be reached. The authorities might be forced to review the results of elections in several electoral districts in the south.

Both the opposition and the authorities are interested in starting the negotiation process, Alexei Malashenko, an expert from the Carnegie Center, believes. "Both sides realize that the present political confrontation might turn into an ethnic conflict that could split the country in two -- the prosperous north populated mainly by the Kyrgyz, and the poor south with an Uzbek majority," he says. In any case, Akayev will not resign in the near future as the opposition is demanding. "At present, the entire economy of the country is tied to his family," the expert says.

Meanwhile, the political crisis in Kyrgyzstan might directly affect Russia's military and political interests. Apart from the Kant air base, two Russian Navy facilities are located in Kyrgyzstan- a testing area for torpedoes at Lake Issyk-Kul and a long-range communication post for submarines on combat duty. There is no immediate threat to Russian facilities, but nobody knows what might happen if the situation deteriorates, especially if Russia expresses openly its support for the Kyrgyz authorities.



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