Anger over rampant corruption and hikes in utility rates turned into violent protests in Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday, forcing Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the country’s president, to flee the capital, Bishkek, for the south of the country.
The demonstrations resemble the events of 2005, which became known as the Tulip revolution, and which forced Askar Akayev, the country’s former president, to step down.
The Central Asian country is one of the poorest in the region, but it is strategically important.
The US has a military base in Bishkek which serves as a critical supply route for the US and its allies in Afghanistan. The Russians also have an air base just 40km away from the US base. So what happens in Kyrgyzstan is a matter of concern for both countries.
So, just what is behind the latest unrest, could it spill over into neighbouring countries and are foreign hands involved?
Inside Story, with presenter Imran Garda, discusses with guests Kumar Bekbolotov, the director of the Soros Foundation in Kyrgyzstan, Aleksandr Pikaev, a defence analyst and advisor to the defence committee at the state Duma, and Evan Feigenbaum, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for South Asia and Central Asia.
This episode of Inside Story aired on Thursday, April 8, 2010.