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C071010_Turmoil_in_R_G_Gidadhubli

C071010_Turmoil_in_R_G_Gidadhubli - COMMENTARY Turmoil in...

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COMMENTARY Economic & Political Weekly EPW JULY 10, 2010 vol xlv no 28 27 Turmoil in Kyrgyzstan: Power Play of Vested Interests R G Gidadhubli R G Gidadhubli ( [email protected] ) is a commentator on Russian and central Asian affairs. Ethnic and economic disparities between the Kyrgyz and Uzbek may have contributed to the recent clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan. However, a campaign by former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev and his supporters to destabilise the government of Roza Otunbayeva cannot be ruled out. The reluctance of Russia and the United States to intervene further complicated the situation. The interim government created history by bringing about constitutional reforms through a referendum, but problems remain. O sh, Jalal-Abad and a few cities of the southern region of the Kyrgyz Republic experienced the worst forms of violence, including rape, murder and arson, for four days from 11 June 2010 onwards. As per initial official reports, about 170 were killed and over 1,700 wounded. In fact, the actual number of those killed could be 10 times more than the official figures, according to Roza Otunbayeva, head of the interim govern- ment. Killing of innocent people, children and pregnant women was barbaric and cruel. The extent of damage and destruc- tion of houses, shops and vehicles was enormous. In this violence, four lakh peo- ple became homeless. Uzbekistan hosted over one lakh, mainly Uzbeks, including women and children. All this has shaken the interim govern- ment, which came to power in April 2010, when there were strong protests against the former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev who was forced to leave the country and seek asylum in Belarus. The magnitude of violence has been highlighted by the world press and media. As the violence was esca- lating, the United Nations ( UN ) urged the Kyrgyz government to put an end to it. International humanitarian assistance has been reaching with difficulty to affected people in the Kyrgyz Republic. By the third week of June 2010, there was slight improvement in the situation although it was far from normal. There are strong fears the improvement could be temporary. Several questions, therefore, arise. What are the causes for the vio- lence? What measures were taken by the government to prevent and control the situation? What was the response of the major powers, particularly Russia and the United States ( US ) to the Kyrgyz crisis? What are the likely implications of this violence for Kyrgyzstan, in particular, and for central Asia, in general? At the outset, it may be stated that this was not the first time that Kyrgyzstan has witnessed hostilities. In April 2010, about 80 people were killed during protests against the former Bakiyev government. Prior to that, in March 2005, during the Tulip Revolution, fighting brought Bakiyev of Jalal-Abad to power, forcing his prede- cessor Aksar Akayev to flee the country and take asylum in Russia. More signifi- cantly in 1990, at the end of the Soviet era, when there were clashes between the Kyrgyz and Uzbeks. In the resulting vio-
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