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Central Asia's 'Island Of Democracy' Gone
Kyrgyz Republic's present political stand.
Ryskeldi Satkeev (ryskeldi64)     Print Article 
Published 2009-09-22 11:08 (KST)   
This article is lightly edited.  <Editor's Note>
The July 23rd presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan brought an unprecedented level of political oppression and were followed by massive persecution measures taken right after president Bakiev was re-elected.

OSCE observers called this election "a disappointment," describing large amount of violations registered at the polling stations around the country. The European Union declared it failed to meet key OSCE requirements for democratic elections. As a result Bakiev's turnout numbers came up with 76.12%.

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The opposition candidate Atambaev, who experts in the region thought had the best chances to win barely received 8.41%.

Such irregularity in vote count created predicted tension between Bakiev controlled Government law enforcement services and the opposition supporters. Police response was harsh, and on July 23rd in Balykchy city, of northwestern Kyrgyzstan, where approximately over 1000 supporters of opposition candidate Atambaev rallied against voting policies (ballot stuffing, multiple voting, falsified vote counting) fixed by pro-Bakiev province administration. Protesters in Balykchy were arrested and detained, where they were, reportedly, abused.

The opposition parties united under pressure into UOM (United Opposition Movement) and denounced the elections. They called Bakiev re-election "illegitimate" which caused angry reaction from the Office of the General Prosecutor and Internal Affairs Ministry. They said there would be heavy consequences if UOM continued to use a "provocative" tone.

The head of the Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK) political faction and Atambaev's chief campaign strategist, Bakyt Beshimov, publicly announced "illegal practices used against the opposition parties during presidential elections" presenting proof of State Election Code violations highlighted in quite shocking numbers.

Attempts to voice disturbing concerns over current political situation by UOM lead to a large scale repression against the opponents of president Bakiev around the country.

SDPK reported unconstitutional night raids and arrests of active Atambaev campaign supporters after July 23rd. In one case,Syrgak Abdyldaev, an analyst for local the newspaper "Bishkek-Reporter," had to escape the country with his family seeking refuge in Western Europe. Outspoken journalist Abdyldaev was stabbed 28 times for his criticism pointed of Bakiev's policies.

The U.S. reaction to the outcome of July 23rd Kyrgyz elections was dictated by interests in the region around Manas air base which, created attention of the world media outlets due to geopolitical disturbances coming out of military operations lead by US and NATO in Afghanistan. Manas has been a reliable supply route for military forces inside Afghanistan, since other regional transit chains became increasingly unsafe, in part caused by deteriorating political situation in Pakistan as well with rising Taliban activity.

Not surprisingly, the newly-elected Obama administration has not put any pressure on re-elected President Bakiev notably preferring steady cooperation with Kyrgyz counterpart rather than unwelcome relations.

This is different than the approach used in Uzbekistan, for example, when in the summer of 2005 when Uzbek President Karimov ordered mass killings of protesters in Andijan city unrest. The U.S. State Department harshly criticized Karimov, after which the Uzbek president ordered the immediate departure of the Americans from an air base in the country.

In addition, Russia's return to prominence in central Asia has caused another round of geopolitical posturing.

In the meantime, Kyrgyz opposition leaders and members are routinely persecuted by Government. The latest incident was when an SDPK member and parliamentarian Kadyrov was charged with assault on police officers and organizing anti-government protest in Balykchy city on July 23rd. There has been an extensive pressure on political figures opposing Bakiev, which resulted in his imprisonment.

Bakyt Beshimov, head of the SDPK faction in Parliament, secretly crossed the Kyrgyz-Kazakh border and then left for the United States.

The Caucasus Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Washington DC, invited Beshimov to participate at round table forum on September 15th. According to his statement, the Kremlin has utilized its power to help Bakiev remain in office.

Bakyt Beshimov stated that he received death threats and his e-mail and Facebook accounts have been cracked preventing communication with the outside world.

Meanwhile,back in Kyrgyzstan pro-Bakiev media sources as www.24.kg for instance routinely misinforming population on Beshimov's escape.
©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ryskeldi Satkeev

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