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Monday, March 21, 2005

Kyrgyzstan update


Kyrgyzstan's second-biggest city fell to opposition control Monday as protests, some violent, swept across the country's south to demand the resignation of President Askar Akayev. Central Asian Kyrgyzstan has become the latest ex-Soviet republic -- after Ukraine and Georgia -- to be rocked by anti-government protests in the wake of elections judged as flawed by international observers. Police and officials in Osh fled when a crowd of about 1,000 young men armed with sticks and petrol bombs stormed the regional administrative building and police headquarters, setting fire to a portrait of Akayev. Some demonstrators tried to beat up police, who had to be rescued by opposition activists. The city's police chief later told the crowd he had ordered his men to cross over to the opposition.
The government of Kyrgyzstan is ready to start negotiations with the opposition, Abdil Segizbayev, press secretary of the President of Kyrgyzstan, has said on the national television. He emphasized that President Askar Akayev was to determine the format of the talks and the date of their beginning.
Perhaps my previous pessimism about Kyrgyzstan was misplaced. Signifigant things seem to be happening there and the government seems unable to crack down.


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