Kyrgyzstan. According to
countryaah, the international financial crisis had
repercussions even in the deep poor of Kyrgyzstan. As
unemployment grew in the country, many guest workers from
the Russian Federation also returned, where they lost their
jobs. In March, the opposition held protests in several
cities against the regime. As Moscow's support for the
country increased, the oppression of dissent intensified.
Independent media was persecuted during the year, many
critically reviewing journalists were subjected to assault
and at least three were killed. A journalist was killed
along with a regime critic in a mysterious car accident in
March. In October, the editor-in-chief of the independent
weekly magazine Zjylan was murdered, who reported on police
corruption, among other things. In December, an opposition
journalist died after being ejected from a high-rise
building in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan. The opposition blamed
President Bakijev's regime for the murder. Several
journalists were also brutally beaten during the year.
The July presidential election became a walking victory
for incumbent Prime Minister Kurmanbek Bakijev, who during
the election campaign talked about new terrorist threats
from Islamists. The opposition said he was conducting scare
propaganda. According to official results, Bakijev received
76 percent of the vote, while challenger and former Prime
Minister Almazbek Atambayev was reported to have received 8
percent. Accusations of electoral fraud came from the
opposition which organized protests, when police and
protesters rallied and many participants were arrested.
European election observers rejected the election, saying it
did not meet sufficient standards.
In October, President Bakijev took control of both the
Foreign Ministry and the Security Service. Prime Minister
Igor Chudinov resigned in protest, and Bakijev immediately
appointed his trusted Danijar Usenov as new prime minister.
Bakijev said his campaign was aimed at fighting security
threats, corruption, bureaucracy - about 40 percent of
employees in the central government administration would be
laid off - and economic crisis. The opposition talked about
concentration of power. The new head of government Usenov
was described as tough in his view of the opposition.
The Great Powers' struggle for influence in Central Asia
had repercussions in Kyrgyzstan. When Bakijev visited Moscow
in February, his government announced that it would close
the US air base Manas, used by the United States for the war
in Afghanistan. Following negotiations with both the United
States and the Russian Federation, the result was that
non-military US transportation was allowed to continue,
while Kyrgyzstan received far higher rent for the base. At
the same time, the Russian Federation pledged loans and
assistance to Kyrgyzstan and in turn promised a second
military base in the country and increased the number of
Russian soldiers there.
Kyrgyzstan's glaciers are melting at an ever-faster pace
with altitude reductions of 20-50 meters per year,
Kyrgyzstan geologists warn that all of the country's
glaciers may be gone within a century. The ice- and
snow-covered mountains are crucial for water supply in