Programme Paper

Project: Russia and Eurasia Programme

Annette Bohr
  • The immediate cause of the protests which led to the collapse of the Bakiev administration in Kyrgyzstan was a sharp increase in electricity and utility tariffs coupled with the arrest of prominent opposition leaders. This followed months of tension between opposition members and the government, which had become a by-word for rampant nepotism and corruption.
  • It remains to be seen how the provisional government, under the leadership of Roza Otunbaeva, will set about sharing power. It is far from certain that Otunbaeva will win the forthcoming election, given her lack of a strong domestic base and the presence of a number of potential contenders within the provisional government.
  • Russia's swift endorsement of the new regime came as a surprise, given its traditional support for authoritarian leaders in the region. There is speculation that Russia, angered by Bakiev's volte face on the US base at Manas, may have helped to fuel unrest in the country. For all of its 'multi-vectoring', Russia still remains a more important ally for Kyrgyzstan than the United States.
  • The potential effects of the regime change in Kyrgyzstan are likely to be felt the most keenly within Central Asia itself, where authoritarian leaders have been observing current events with a degree of trepidation and uncertainty.