Kyrgyzstan in Context
Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country in Eurasia, bordered by China, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. Under Russian control since 1876, Kyrgyzstan gained its independence in 1991. While the country does posses oil and gas resources, overall the country is poor, particularly in the south where unemployment and poverty rates are high. People were hopeful for change after the “Tulip Revolution” in March of 2005, but problems such as corruption and inter-ethnic conflict still plague the fledgling democracy.
Summary & Updates:
When Kyrgyzstan gained its independence from the USSR, there was hope the country would remain stable and that democracy would flourish under President Askar Akayev. However, Akayev’s presidency became more and more authoritarian and autocratic. In March of 2005, after repeated claims of electoral fraud, Akayev and his government were overthrown in the “Tulip Revolution” (sometimes referred to as the “March Revolution”). Kurmanbek Bakiev was elected president later that year.
The revolution, however, has not yielded the immediate results Kyrgyzstan citizens were hoping for. Unrest is still troubling the country and challenging President Bakiev’s authority. Since he came to power several members of parliament have been shot and killed, a string of prison riots had to be forcibly put down in October, and concerns have been raised that the National Security Service is obstructing efforts to contain widespread crime.
President Bakiev has announced plans for a referendum in 2006 to decide how power should be divided between the president and parliament, an issue left over from former president Akayev. While this is an important step for the government, such a referendum may not be enough to save his presidency. The newspaper Agym reported a telephone survey found 58% are expecting a second revolution. The Kyrgyzstan Security Council has dismissed the likelihood that a second revolution will take place, saying further changes will be made peacefully and within the government.
- 1876 – Russian forces conquer the land now known as Kyrgyzstan and make it part of the Russian empire.
- 1990 – State of emergency is imposed in Kyrgyzstan after several hundred people are killed in inter-ethnic clashes; Askar Akayev, member of the Kyrgyz Communist Party, is elected by the legislature to the new position of president.
- 1991 – Kyrgyzstan gains its current name and declares independence; Akayev wins another term as president in direct elections in which he is unopposed.
- 1995 – Akayev is re-elected president with over 70% of the vote.
- 1996 – A constitutional amendment that concentrates more power in the hands of the president and limits the power of the legislature is overwhelmingly approved by referendum.
- 1998 – The Constitutional Court decides Akayev can run for another presidential term in 2000.
- 2000 – Akayev is re-elected for another five-year presidential term; international observers report the election was flawed.
- 2002 January – Leading opposition deputy Azimbek Beknazarov is detained for what supporters claim are political motivated reasons.
- 2002 May - Leading opposition politician Felix Kulov is sentenced to 10 years in prison; Azimbek Beknazarov is freed after receiving a one-year suspended sentence for abuse of office.
- 2002 November – Opposition protesters are arrested after marching on the capital and demanding President Akayev’s resignation.
- 2003 – The lower house of the parliament passes a bill granting President Akayev lifelong immunity from prosecution.
- 2004 – Opposition parties form a coalition to challenge pro-government parties ahead of the 2005 elections.
- 2005 February – Numerous independent and opposition candidates are barred from standing in the parliamentary elections, sparking protests.
- 2005 March – A second round of parliamentary elections sparks more protests; demonstrators take over official buildings in the south. Facing calls for his resignation, President Akayev flees to Russia. The Supreme Court annuls the results of recent elections despite validation from the electoral commission. Kurmanbek Bakiev claims the old parliament appointed him acting president and prime minister; the newly elected parliament recognizes Bakiev’s claim, and he acknowledges the parliament as legitimate. The old parliament agrees to dissolve. Opposition leader Felix Kulov is released from jail, and all charges against him are dropped.
- 2005 April – Akayev resigns as president.
- 2005 July – Bakiev wins presidential election in a landslide.
- 2005 August – President Bakiev is inaugurated.
- 2005 September – Felix Kulov is approved by parliament to be prime minister; several other nominees of the new government were not approved, including Roza Otunbayeva, a driving force in the overthrow of former President Akayev.
Sites of Interest
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