Neighbours play down Kyrgyz revolution

Neighbouring governments in Central Asia have studiously ignored the lightning-fast revolution in Kyrgyzstan but opposition parties in the region are jubilant.

    Kyrgyz protesters took over the presidential compound

    After the Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2003 and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine last year that swept out Soviet-era leaders, authorities in Central Asia have feared

    their grip on power could be under threat as well.




    In Uzbekistan, where President Islam Karimov runs a tightly controlled government with thousands of political prisoners in jail, state-run television news did not

    mention the Kyrgyz uprising as breaking news.


    It did have a one-minute, matter-of-fact report on the events in Bishkek at the end of the programme, which was full of the usual praise for the Uzbek government.


    Uzbekistan beefed up security along the more than 1,000km-long Uzbek-Kyrgyz border.


    Karimov heads a tightly-run
    government in Uzbekistan


    Opposition parties, however, cheered the news that protesters in Bishkek had seized government headquarters and reportedly forced President Askar Askayev into exile

    after weeks of mass unrest over alleged elections fraud.


    The Free Peasants' party issued a statement saying that events in Kyrgyzstan would be a shock for all autocratic governments, including Uzbekistan.


    Atanazar Arifov, the leader of the other Uzbek opposition party, Erk, also congratulated Kyrgyzstan on its democratic revolution.




    In Kazakhstan - the largest country in the region where presidential elections are due next year and which is seen as a likely target for a popular uprising - television

    channels did not even mention the Kyrgyz crisis in their news broadcasts until early evening.


    Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry offered brotherly assistance and expressed hopes that the Kyrgyz people – "renowned for their traditions of wisdom and reason" - would emerge from "this difficult situation with dignity".


    Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev
    has been in power since 1989


    Kazakhstan, however, closed its border with Kyrgyzstan late on Thursday afternoon, a Kazakh security official told the Interfax news agency.


    Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, a former Communist boss who has been in power since 1989 and enjoys extensive powers, has been under increasing pressure from the maturing opposition.


    Nazarbayev intends to seek another seven-year term in office at the next presidential election, due in 2006.


    A former government minister and opposition leader, Altynbek Sarsenbayev, said the opposition would send representatives to Kyrgyzstan in a sign of solidarity.


    "What is happening in Kyrgyzstan is the just reward for an authoritarian regime that drove its people to the final edge of exasperation," he said.




    President Emomali Rakhmonov's
    party won big in parliamentary polls

    Tajikistan, where strongman President Emomali Rakhmonov's party won an overwhelming victory in parliamentary elections last month, had expressed concern about the political crisis in Kyrgyzstan earlier on Thursday.


    He had urged all sides to find a peaceful solution.


    The Tajik Foreign Ministry said it planned to issue a statement on Friday, but state television downplayed the Kyrgyz revolution, reporting at the end of its news broadcasts that opposition supporters had seized control of some government buildings.




    Turkmenistan, the most isolated and repressive of the Central Asian governments, ignored the events in Kyrgyzstan.


    State television concentrated on showing day-old footage of a visit by Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, who had come to discuss gas supplies with Turkmen leader Saparmurat Niyazov, who declared himself president-for-life several years ago.

    SOURCE: Unspecified


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