Slightly more than one year passed by since the disempowerment of Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Kyrgyzstan today is the first country in Central Asia where the parliamentary system of government has been adopted, where the president is a woman, and where they plan to transfer the presidential authority through open and direct elections.
Now the revolution of March 24th, 2005 is called as a rule “the stolen revolution”. Whether the “revolution” of April 7th, 2010 will match the expectations of the population and the civil society still remains uncertain.
On April 7th, 2010, the second revolution started in Kyrgyzstan. As a result of the revolution, the president Kurmanbek Bakiyev was deprived of power. Following his orders, soldiers opened fire on the demonstrators. More than 80 people were killed and hundreds were wounded. A few days later, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who at his time had come himself to power thanks to the “Tulips Revolution”, escaped from Kyrgyzstan and found shelter in Belarus. The power in the country went over to the provisional government. The dethronement of the president was long and bloody with pogroms in the South and the North of the country. At that time, many experts were very much concerned about the possibility that the country could disintegrate into a South and North opposing each other.
The situation in the country was very unstable. Different actions and little confrontations taking place in May in the Southern cities of Osh and Jalal-Abad in June, lead to ethnic clashes and pogroms, which spread all over the South of the country. Hundreds of people were killed, thousands were wounded and the city of Osh was considerably destroyed.
Against this extremely complicated background of internal politics, a referendum took place in June. During the referendum, citizens pronounced themselves in favor of a change in the political system of the country. Kyrgyzstan became a parliamentary republic headed by the first woman president in Central Asia. In October, there were parliamentary elections. Based on their results and after long and difficult negotiations the government was formed.
“The adoption of the new Constitution substantially increasing the role of the parliament and the political parties and decreasing the possibility of authoritarian and familial rule in Kyrgyzstan was one of the positive changes of the last year”, says doctor in political sciences of the American University of Central Asia Mr. Azamat Temirkulov.
“Moreover, the fight against crime and corruption is not a virtual fiction, but a real process with tangible results”, he said. “The progress in the social and economic sphere is not that perceptible as in the political one. However, for such a short period of time and taking into consideration the political instability, the results of the present government’s work may be evaluated as satisfactory.”
“Among the negative changes there is the emotional stress experienced by the society during the period from April to June 2010”, notes Temirkulov. “The destabilization hit the economy of the country. There was a decrease in investments, an economic downturn and an outflow of the working population. But the most important is certainly that the social concord suffered a lot and this is undoubtedly the most negative consequence of the change of regime.”
Actually Kyrgyzstan goes through a hard systemic crisis. The political and socio-economic reforms carried out in the country are implemented in difficult conditions.
Thus, the state external debt is 2 billion 642 million US dollars. This represents 55% of the country’s GDP. It is the payment of this external debt, which burdens the state budget the most. Put differently, to pay this debt now, Kyrgyzstan has to ask for external assistance again. Kyrgyzstan already occupies the first place of external aid receiver among the countries of the former Soviet Union. But logically, in a country taking these huge amounts of assistance, the economic situation and the standard of life of the population should improve.
But unfortunately, in reality, Kyrgyzstan stays deeply indebted. Such massive amounts of external debts drag back the capacities of the country in the sphere of social obligations and also suppress the economic development. It is clear that the social and economic development of the country is really hard without system programs and professional frameworks: To overcome the crisis Kyrgyzstan has first of all to believe and rely on its own forces. But where can the country get them from?
Not long ago, one deputy of the parliament, the head of budget and finances committee Akylbek Japarov informed the journalists that more than 3 months passed by since the new government started working, but it has not presented yet its own development program. He thinks it is worthless to even start talking about an efficient budgetary policy without a concrete program.
According to optimistic assumptions of the deputy, with the conditions of a stable situation and a correct management, the country can find itself among the 50 first developed countries in minimum 10 and maximum in 20 years. Along with that there have to be new conditions introduced into the country’s government process: equal treatment of the citizens independently from their party membership or territorial belonging. Of course, he says right from this point of view. Kyrgyzstan has to come up with a three-year economy stabilization plan and the representatives of the business have to know in what direction the country will further develop.
What did really change in the country during the last year? Experts and politicians keep breaking lances. There is no common opinion even amongst the representatives of the ex-opposition. In general, concerning the second revolution achievements, there are very different points of view in the country.
For example: “The current government tends to repeat the mistakes of Kurmanbek Bakiyev, to use the administrative resource at the presidential elections”, asserts a member of the parliamentary group “Ata-Meken” Erkinbek Alymbekov. “However, the prime minister may ‘not stay’ until autumn and already not participate in the elections.” “The parties which came to power do not understand correctly the nature of parliamentarianism”, complains the leader of the “Akshumkar” party Temir Sariyev. “They think that having come to power, it will be enough to distribute the profitable branches of economy and enroll public officials who will serve them.”
“There is no doubt about the fact that the April 2012 revolution was not a democratic revolution. “Yes, we removed Kurmanbek Bakiyev. But we do not have democracy, we have got feudalism. We do have feudal lords, barons, feudal wars. They say the people are free. What are you talking about?!... For a simple citizen nothing changed after the ‘April revolution.”
“Did the April Revolution achieve its goals? There was a lot done, but we will have to do much more, because there are not many obvious results”, underlined Temir Sariyev. “But we have got the foundation for that: a new constitution. Now we have to learn how to live observing fundamental law.”
“More likely there is no person in Kyrgyzstan, who could say that during one year since the revolution all his or her expectancies were justified and all the plans were realized”, agrees with him the head of the presidential administration Emilbek Kaptagayev. But, as he thinks, not only those in power have to deal with the development of the country, but all the rest of citizens too. However, according to other experts’ opinion it is still problematic to do.
The cause, for that, lies in the fact that in Kyrgyzstan there are no developed party institutions, which could allow the simple citizens to achieve the desired changes. As always, the former authorities are to be blamed, as they were afraid of the appearance of a strong political competition. But the situation did not change even after the “April Revolution”. The majority of parties, to experts’ opinion, keeps working in the old way and mostly acts in the interests of the leadership without taking into consideration the opinions of their party companions. The political scientist Marat Kazakpayev does not consider the April events as a valid revolution. “What happened could be more likely called an armed riot of the youth”, he said in interview to the Russian service of BBC. “The only goal that was achieved is the change of authority. In other respects I do not see any serious changes. The new authority has not yet had a lot of success in carrying out any of significant reforms.”
At the same time, Mars Sariyev, a well-known political scientist in Kyrgyzstan, said in an interview to BBC that the revolution did achieve its goal: “The presidential form of government does not exist anymore and there is nobody now who can usurp the power.”
Anyway, for the last six year, the beginning of the warm season means is synonym of the next political struggle carried out on the streets. However and against general anticipations, the anniversary of the April events passed quietly. On April 7th, 2011, exactly one year after the revolution, which had entailed the overturn of Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s regime, there were no large-scale actions of protest around the “White House” (House of Government) in the centre of Bishkek, nor military units or reinforced police detachments. The government managed to overcome this psychologically important day without too much damages.
Moreover, all official mass media of the country were reporting about the 100 first successful days of work of the new government headed by the Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev. The ruling majority put on its credit a long-awaited political stability.
It could in deed be considered as an achievement that so different political forces constituting the coalition (SDPK, “Respublika”, “Ata-Jurt”…) succeeded to stay together that long. In many respects this is a merit of the Prime Minister who tries to do his best in order to preserve the government.
But even now, one year later, in experts’ opinion, there is still flourishing corruption and decreasing life standard in Kyrgyzstan – mainly because of the problems in the economy and the security sphere. There are a lot of problems in the country’s economy. “The prices for food grow. The prices for gas and fuel grow too. The repartition of business continues. The government works through inertia…”, says Egamberdy Kabulov, a journalist working and living in Jalal-Abad.
The cause for the country still staying afloat is that there are no external forces setting the Kyrgyz people at loggerheads and the “Bakiyev’s elite” successfully penetrated the actual power. “Many politicians, who had left the country after the change of government, came back and they are now carrying out dynamic political activities…”, - says the senior scientist of the Russian Institute of Oriental Studies Alexander Kniazev, who lives in Bishkek.
However, one can’t yet see any alternative to the provisional president Roza Otunbayeva, who has nothing against holding her post a bit longer. Now the Kyrgyz people do not sympathize much with the politicians: at the parliamentary elections last autumn the poll-winner got only 8,5% of the total votes.
One plus of the new power, in experts’ mind, is the fact that the entire tension of political passions at last moved from the streets to the parliamentary lobby, where a week hardly passes by without a conflict between the deputies.
But the tranquility of the political life is just the calm before the storm, because the main test – presidential elections – is still upcoming. The transitional ruling period of current president Roza Otunbayeva comes to its end on December 31st, 2011, that’s why the election has to take place in October-November. According to the coalition agreement, the candidates for presidency have to leave their posts 4 months before the election. The lawyers calculated that the deadline for elections announcement is June 30th and on the same day the latest the candidates will have to resign.
The disintegration of the coalition and the beginning of the pre-election struggle will mean that hardly achieved political stability will be broken for at least half a year. And even the election of the president will not immediately lead back to stability. The constitutional reform of 2010 changed the nature of power of the president of Kyrgyzstan, which had before been pretty usual of the ones attributed to a head of a post-Soviet state. Now the president will have again to look for a compromise in parliament in order to form the majority and the government. So, on June 30th everything only begins.
P.S. concerning the sphere of security: It is necessary to note though, that after the April Revolution we can see the appearance of something absolutely new for the Kyrgyz society, meaning the increase of terrorist attacks threats. Among those having taken place during the last year could be considered the explosions near the synagogue last summer, the explosion near the Palace of Sports and the attempt to explode an automobile parked by the Bishkek municipal police station.
According to the information of the State Committee of National Security behind these acts there is an organization named “Jaamat of Kyrgyzstan “Jayshul Makhdi”, which in Arabic means “The Army of the Just Ruler”. The minister of interior said it was a separatist group, which was planning terrorist attacks in Osh and Bishkek. For now the special services of Kyrgyzstan detain 9 individuals. According to the minister’s words the detainees are not members of any terrorist or extremist organization. That was a separatist group consisting of some ethnic Kyrgyz, some Uzbek individuals and one Russian individual.
From the ideology and drug traffic point of view we can here also speak about the influence of our neighbors, such as first of all Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
But this is a totally different story.
Mass media sources of reference: www.pr.kg; www.delo#.kg; www.24.kg; www.lenta.ru; www.akipress.kg; Russian service BBC; “Aykyn Sayasat” newspaper.