Revolution In Kyrgyzstan: A Timeline
The following is a timeline of major developments in Kyrgyzstan, beginning with the disputed 27 February parliamentary elections and ending with the mass protests in the capital, Bishkek, on 24 March that toppled the government.
24 March 2005
Several thousand opposition supporters storm and ransack the government building in Bishkek. Ousted President Askar Akaev's whereabouts are unknown, although reports say he has left the country. Looting is reported in Bishkek at shops and buildings, some of them known to be owned by Akaev and his relatives. Kyrgyz national television reports three people died during the turmoil. More than 170 were reported hospitalized.
Kyrgyz ambassador to the U.S. Baktybek Abdrissaev says Akaev is in "a safe place" and has not resigned.
The outgoing parliament appoints the head of the opposition People's Movement of Kyrgyzstan, Kurmanbek Bakiev, as acting prime minister and Ishenbai Kadyrbekov as interim president. Bakiev, a former Kyrgyz prime minister, pledges to hold new elections.
Protesters release former Bishkek mayor and opposition Ar-Namys party chairman Feliks Kulov from prison. Parliament appoints Kulov to post of National Security director.
23 March 2005
No substantive talks take place between the government and opposition.
President Akaev fires Interior Minister Bakirdin Subanbekov and Prosecutor-General Myktybek Abdyldaev. New Interior Minister Keneshbek Dushebaev says police can use "any legal means" to establish "constitutional order."
Newly appointed Prosecutor-General Murat Sutalinov says he has begun a criminal case against Bakiev. Sutalinov says Bakiev is suspected of serious crimes, including attempted seizure of power.
22 March 2005
President Akaev affirms his desire to "achieve normalization through negotiations," but says the opposition is too fragmented for talks. He also says there are no grounds for annulling the results of the parliamentary elections and that demonstrations cannot cause his resignation. He condemns "homegrown revolutionaries," but says he will not declare a state of emergency or use force to quell protests. He calls the situation a "temporary, passing phenomenon."
Kyrgyzstan's newly elected unicameral parliament holds its first session. Opposition lawmakers do not attend.
Opposition forces continue to control the southern cities of Jalal-Abad and Osh. Protesters are also reportedly in control of the regional administration buildings in Batken and Kadamzhay. Protestors also continue to occupy government offices in Kochkor.
21 March 2005
Opposition forces control the southern cities of Jalal-Abad and Osh and demand the resignation of President Akaev. Thousands-strong opposition rallies take place in both cities. Reports quote local police as saying they will obey the pro-opposition "people's power."
President Akaev asks the heads of the Central Election Commission and the Supreme Court to review parliamentary election results in certain districts. Russia's "Vremya novostei" suggests Akaev softened his position after a secret visit to Moscow. Kyrgyz officials deny Akaev traveled to Moscow.
Bolot Januzakov, deputy head of the presidential administration, says Akaev and Prime Minister Nikolai Tanaev are ready to hold talks with the opposition, but only if protest actions stop.
20 March 2005
Riot police storm provincial administrative offices in Jalal-Abad and Osh to evict protesters who have been occupying the buildings. After police regain control, a crowd of more than 10,000 protesters gathers in Jalal-Abad. They seize and burn local police offices and later take control of the mayor's office and the airport. Police fire warning shots, but do not fire on demonstrators. By the end of the day, Jalal-Abad is reported to be largely under the control of protesters. Unconfirmed reports say four to 10 people are killed in the day's violence. Government spokesmen deny any fatalities.
Kyrgyz Prime Minister Tanaev announces he has spoken with Bektur Asanov, an opposition leader in Jalal-Abad, and that the government and opposition will hold talks. But opposition leader Kurmanbek Bakiev says the opposition will only agree to talks on the condition that President Akaev take part in them.
The OSCE and U.S. State Department express concern over developments and call for restraint.
18 March 2005
Antigovernment demonstrators seize the provincial administrative offices in Osh.
17 March 2005
Protests continue in a number of regions. In the Kochkor District of Naryn Oblast, up to 3,000 people demand the resignation of Governor Shamshybek Medetbekov and President Akaev as 200 protesters occupy local government offices. In the Toktogul District of Jalal-Abad Oblast, activists seize local government offices and demand the annulment of second-round election results. In Talas, opposition leaders are unable to hold a rally after authorities close a road leading to the city. In Osh, several thousand people take part in a pro-government demonstration.
Imprisoned opposition figure Feliks Kulov says President Akaev can restore stability by resigning. Kulov also says he does not rule out a run for the presidency in the October elections.
Deputy Prime Minister Toktosh Aitikeeva says political "extremism" could cause delays in the payment of salaries and pensions. The Foreign Ministry criticizes the opposition for encouraging "civil disobedience." Boris Poluektov, first deputy chairman of the National Security Service, says "there is every sign of [an attempt at] unlawful seizure of power in the actions of the opposition." But Poluektov stresses "the situation is under control."
Krgyzstan's Foreign Ministry disputes critical comments made the day before by U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Stephen Young about the parliamentary elections. The ministry notes the judicial system is "entirely independent" and stresses that decisions to remove candidates from races affected both opposition and pro-government candidates.
16 March 2005
Kyrgyz Interior Ministry officers free an administration official in Jalal-Abad Oblast who was being held hostage in a state office building by antigovernment protesters. A group of more than 600 demonstrators also seizes a local government building in Kochkor, in eastern Naryn Oblast. Opposition demonstrators seize another local government office in Uzgen.
Two officials being held captive in Talas are released by demonstrators.
U.S. Ambassador Stephen Young criticizes the Kyrgz government for failing to ensure free parliamentary elections. Young says the 13 March runoff and the 27 February first round were marred by media harassment, government interference in the campaign process, media bias in favor of pro-government candidates, and the disqualification of opposition candidates.
15 March 2005
Protests over the parliamentary elections spread. Demonstrators seize a government building in northern Talas Oblast and hold oblast Governor Iskender Aidaraliev and another local official captive. Opposition leaders in Bishkek deny any link to the Talas protesters and warn the situation there could slip out of control.
President Akaev accuses the opposition of trying to drag the country into civil war. He says, "Those guilty of organizing disorder and destabilizing the situation in certain regions will without fail be punished."
The U.S. State Department criticizes the elections and calls on the Kyrgyz government to use peaceful means to quell protests. It says the United States shares the assessment of the OSCE that the poll did not meet international standards.
14 March 2005
According to results available for 71 of the 75 seats in Kyrgyzstan's new unicameral parliament, the opposition will control about 10 percent of the legislature. Preliminary results of the 13 March runoffs also indicate that one of the opposition leaders, Kurmanbek Bakiev, failed to win a seat. Opposition leaders point to numerous violations and question the legitimacy of the vote. A presidential spokesman says the results reflect a lack of popular support for the opposition.
The OSCE says that while the "right to assembly was more fully respected in the period between the two rounds of elections," numerous flaws noted in the first round were repeated, including bias in the media, continued de-registration of candidates on minor grounds, and poorly maintained voter lists.
Preliminary results from the 13 March runoffs spark protests in Uzgen, Osh Oblast, and elsewhere. In Uzgen, more than 1,000 protesters take over local government offices. In the Alay district of Osh Oblast, demonstrators block roads. In Talas Oblast, up to 5,000 opposition supporters block roads and protest in front of local government offices. Protests are also reported in Jalal-Abad, Batken, and Talas.
Central Election Commission Chairman Sulaiman Imanbaev criticizes protesters for "backtracking on democratic and legal principles," but says commission members have been sent to Uzgen and Alay district to review complaints.
13 March 2005
Runoff elections to Kyrgyzstan's parliament take place in 39 districts. With most ballots counted, winners include Bermet Akaeva, daughter of President Akaev, and opposition figures Dooronbek Sadyrbaev, Omurbek Tekebaev, and Bolotbek Sherniyazov. In the Tong District, where first-round elections had been postponed until 13 March after protests, elections results are pronounced invalid after a majority cast ballots "against all."
Protests in Osh, Jalal-Abad, and other regions continue. Some 2,000 protesters in Jalal-Abad and 500 protesters in Osh demand the resignation of President Akaev and a pre-term presidential election.
12 March 2005
Rights activists say up to 30 people are arrested during election protests in Naryn.
11 March 2005
Approximately 4,000 protesters gather in Jalal-Abad to demand the resignation of President Akaev and a pre-term presidential election.
A presidential spokesman says illegal protests demanding the resignation of President Akaev and pre-term elections could force the president to confirm his power through a referendum.
10 March 2005
Twenty opposition parliamentary deputies issue an appeal after failing to gain a quorum for an emergency joint session of the legislature. The appeal expresses a lack of confidence in the Central Election Commission and calls on President Akaev to set presidential elections, scheduled for October, for July and to extend the current parliament's powers until November. Deputies are forced to meet on the street after police encircle the parliament building. The deputies describe police actions as "a coup that has halted one of the branches of government."
Police in Naryn use force to disperse demonstrators protesting election fraud. Police arrest 40 protesters but later release them.
In his first public comment on the protests, President Akaev praises the 27 February vote. The president blames the protests on "irresponsible political operators who are ready to sacrifice innocent people for their ambitions and craving for power."
9 March 2005
The OSCE says Kyrgyzstan's opposition should observe the country's laws in its election-related protests. It says "flaws in the election process cannot give cause to occupy government buildings and block roads." The OSCE also praises Kyrgyz authorities for their "patience and competence" in responding to demonstrations.
Two-hundred protesters from the Karakulja District arrive in Osh, where they call for the resignation of President Akaev, urge pre-term presidential elections, and condemned election fraud. Mayor Satybaldy Chyrmashev says the authorities will do what is necessary to prevent tensions from rising. Demonstrations also continue for a fifth day in Jalal-Abad.
Parliamentary committees meet to discuss the possibility of an emergency joint session of the legislature to review the tense political situation.
8 March 2005
Protests related to the first round of Kyrgyzstan's parliamentary elections continue in Osh, Uzgen, and Jalal-Abad.
Bektur Asanov, a member of the outgoing parliament, says 40 legislators now support the opposition's initiative to hold an emergency session of parliament on 10 March.
7 March 2005
Roza Otunbaeva, co-chair of the Ata-Jurt bloc, and Ishengul Boljurova, one of the leaders of the People's Movement of Kyrgyzstan, say the opposition wants to call an emergency session of parliament to address the political crisis. In light of fraud allegations, they say the current parliament's powers should be extended, presidential elections held within the next three months, and new parliamentary elections held after that. Otunbaeva says the Forum of Political Forces, an umbrella group that brings together five opposition blocs, is capable of ruling the country, but that any transfer of power should take place within the framework of the constitution.
Protests continue in Jalal-Abad, Osh, and Naryn provinces. In Jalal-Abad, a crowd of 1,500-2,000 demonstrates in front of the provincial administration and calls for the resignation of President Akaev. A counterdemonstration with 1,000 supporters of President Akaev also takes place in Jalal-Abad. A group of approximately 150 demonstrators continues to occupy the administration. In the Uzgen district of Osh Province, 1,000 protesters take over the district administration in the course of a protest against election fraud.
A presidential spokesman says there are no grounds for declaring a state of emergency. He says the opposition's attempt to provoke a crisis will prove unsuccessful.
6 March 2005
Up to 3,000 antigovernment demonstrators protest in Jalal-Abad. Demonstrations also take place in Naryn Province. Naryn Governor Shamshybek Medetbekov, who is briefly detained by protesters, promises a timely review of one candidate's disqualification.
5 March 2005
Kyrgyz Prime Minister Nikolai Tanaev says the government is playing a "waiting game" with protesters, but warned the instigators will be punished.
Bolot Januzakov, deputy head of the presidential administration, says the protests are a pre-planned power grab by the opposition and claims demonstrators are being paid.
Demonstrators continue to occupy the provincial administration center in Jalal-Abad.
4 March 2005
In Jalal-Abad, some 1,000 protesters gather to support parliamentary candidate Jusupbek Bakiev, brother of People's Movement of Kyrgyzstan leader Kurmanbek Bakiev, and condemn election fraud and pressure by the authorities.
Demonstrators occupy the provincial administration center in Jalal-Abad and demand the resignation of President Akaev.
Opposition leader Kurmanbek Bakiev calls for an emergency session of parliament to review the tense political situation in the country and examine the possibility of holding presidential elections before the currently scheduled date of October.
3 March 2005
An explosion occurs at the Bishkek apartment of Roza Otunbaeva, co-chairwoman of the opposition Ata-Jurt bloc. No one is injured. Police find shrapnel at the scene, suggesting it was a grenade. Otunbaeva says the incident "bears the imprint, the attitude, of the Kyrgyz government toward the opposition." Her comments are dismissed by a presidential spokesman.
2 March 2005
Opposition leader Kurmanbek Bakiev says the first round of parliamentary elections on 27 February was marred by numerous violations.
Bolot Januzakov, first deputy head of the Kyrgyz presidential administration, and Foreign Minister Askar Aitmatov propose an investigation into the shutoff of power to an independent printing house in Bishkek in the run-up to the 27 February parliamentary elections. They deny the incident was linked to political concerns.
1 March 2005
Approximately 3,000 election protesters unblock the Osh-Aravan highway after a court in Aravan district agrees to hear a local candidate's complaint. Six hundred other protesters block the Osh-Karasuu highway over a similar complaint.
Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Askar Aitmatov says the ministry does not accept the OSCE's preliminary report on the 27 February elections. The OSCE says the vote "fell short of OSCE commitments and other international standards in a number of important areas."
28 February 2005
Sulaiman Imanbaev, the head of Kyrgyzstan's Central Election Commission, says 31 candidates scored first-round victories in the 27 February elections. Second-round races, in which 86 candidates will compete for 44 seats, will be held in two weeks. Among the candidates vying in second-round races are opposition figures Adakham Madumarov, Dooronbek Sadyrbaev, Kurmanbek Bakiev, Omurbek Tekebaev, Iskhak Masaliev, Marat Sultanov, and Ishenbai Kadyrbekov.
A majority of voters in Kochkor District, which witnessed large-scale protests in the lead-up to the elections, vote against all candidates, triggering a second round of voting.
Kyrgyzstan's opposition holds a rally in Bishkek with at least 300 people to protest the conduct of the 27 February elections. They denounce violations of the election law and government attempts to muzzle the independent media.
Between 1,000 to 3,000 protesters gather in the Aravan District of Osh Province to voice support for Tursunbai Alimov, the current administrative head of the Aravan District, who is trailing his opponent, Makhammadjan Mamasaidov, by a thin margin.
International observers from the CIS and OSCE offer differing assessments of the 27 February elections. Asan Kozhakov, head of the CIS observer mission, notes some irregularities but deems the elections "transparent, open, and legitimate." Kimmo Kiljunen, who heads the OSCE observer mission, says the elections, "while more competitive than previous elections, fell short of OSCE commitments and other international standards in a number of important areas."
27 February 2005
Kyrgyzstan holds elections to its 75-seat unicameral parliament. Turnout is around 60 percent, somewhat lower than in the 2000 elections. The highest turnout is in Talas, Jalal-Abad, and Bakten oblasts, which all top 65 percent, and the lowest in the capital, Bishkek, which registers 46 percent turnout.
As he casts his vote, President Akaev announces he will not change the constitution to extend his term in office.
Prominent Kyrgyz opposition figures, including Roza Otunbaeva, Muratbek Imanaliev, Ishengul Boljurova, and Topchubek Turgunaliev, say numerous violations place the legitimacy of the elections in doubt.
Kyrgyzstan's Foreign Ministry says it has delivered an official note to the U.S. Embassy criticizing comments by U.S. Ambassador Stephen Young as "impermissible." Young had said "significant problems in the conduct of elections will harm the image and reputation of Kyrgyzstan as a country that is a leader in conducting democratic reforms." A statement describes Young's comments as "an attempt to interfere in the country's internal affairs."
(Compiled from RFE/RL and wire service reports.)
Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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