Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Kyrgyz counter revolution may be a damp squib, but Russians aren't waiting to find out.

The media spotlight has shifted from Kyrgyzstan, but trouble has rumbled on.  Last week pro Bakiyev supporters took back government buildings in Osh, in the south of the country.

This was the attempt at counter insurgency which many experts on Central Asia expected.  Tribal allegiances play a defining role in Kyrgyz politics, and Bakiyev’s power base lies to the south.

While the Tulip Revolution was, at the time, trumpeted as a victory for reformers, informed commentators have argued that it should be understood in the context of more traditional rivalries.

The interim government retook control of southern Kyrgyzstan with relative ease.  The Central Asia blog, Registan, interprets this as a sign that Bakiyev’s supporters will not muster a serious challenge.  The counter insurgency, it claims, was due to begin in earnest yesterday.  The suggestion is that it was snuffed out before it could properly begin.

The blog believes that Bakiyev’s strategy was to split the country in two, but the link between north and south Kyrgyzstan has proved more durable than the former president expected.

Meanwhile the country’s instability has caused ethnic Russians to reconsider their future there, the Moscow Times reports.

Like many former Soviet Republics, Kyrgyzstan population included a high proportion of Russians, concentrated particularly in urban areas.  The percentage has steadily dropped during its independence, but pockets remain.  Particularly in the capital, Bishkek.

The stream of ethnic Russians returning to their ancestral homeland is replicated across Central Asia and it is always intensified by oppressive government, discrimination or a volatile political situation.

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