Kyrgyzstan. According to
CountryAAH, the year began with a government crisis since
the previous government resigned at the end of 2006. After
the parliament twice rejected President Kurmanbek Bakijev's
candidate for new head of government, Azim Isabekov was
approved in January as a compromise candidate. His victory,
however, fell short. In March, he resigned after continued
political unrest. Moderate opposition leader Almazbek
Atambayev was nominated in his place, a nomination that was
seen as President Bakijev's attempt to appease the opponents
who demanded his resignation.
Bakijev's former ally Felix Kulov, who led the government
in 2006, however, gathered his supporters in protest
demonstrations with continued demands for Bakijev's
resignation and diminished presidential power. Bakijev, who
himself was elected after similar demonstrations in 2005,
was accused of not keeping his promises to fight corruption
and pull the country out of poverty. Police used tear gas
and batons to disperse thousands of protesters in the
capital Bishkek. One hundred arrested. Eventually, however,
the protests were interrupted and Felix Kulov claimed that
the president began to meet the critics.
In May it was reported that the new Prime Minister
Atambayev had been poisoned with an unknown substance in a
water glass. Atambayev, who was reported to have been
unconscious for two days, said he had received death threats
due to the nationalization of a computer industry.
During the year, Kyrgyzstan declined an offer from
international lenders to halve the external debt in exchange
for a series of reforms. Instead, the government urged all
citizens to contribute to paying the central government debt
by purchasing interest-free government bonds for the
equivalent of SEK 180,000 per person. An average monthly
salary in Kyrgyzstan is equivalent to SEK 700.
During the year, international media noted that child
laborers are used under very health-threatening conditions
in coal mining in mining shafts that are so low that adults
cannot work there. However, the authorities refused to admit
the existence of the problem.
President Bakijev seemed to meet the opposition when
Kyrgyzstan held a referendum on constitutional amendments in
October which, according to Bakijev, would diminish
presidential power and increase parliamentary influence. 75
percent of voters said yes to the proposal, and the
president then dissolved the parliament and announced new
elections until December. But the opposition claimed that
the changes were instead a step towards authoritarian rule,
including by giving the president free hands to appoint
important officials. According to OSCE election observers,
there were many irregularities during the referendum.
In November, prominent regime-critical journalist Alicia
Saipov was murdered in the city of Osh in the Fergana Valley
in southern Kyrgyzstan. He was of Uzbek origin and had
harshly criticized the Uzbek regime for the Andizan massacre
in 2005. Saipov used to smuggle his Uzbek-language newspaper
Politika into Uzbekistan. He had received information that
criminals in Osh had been offered $ 10,000 to murder him.
Human rights organizations demanded a thorough investigation
of the murder and found that Saipov could have been murdered
by Uzbek agents.
A few weeks before Kyrgyzstan's parliamentary elections
in December, Prime Minister Atambayev resigned. According to
the government, there was no conflict with the president,
but political analysts felt that the head of government was
The election seemed to give Kyrgyzstan a one-party
parliament with only President Bakijev's party Ak Zjol (The
Light Road). A special rule excluded parties that did not
reach 0.5 percent of the vote in each constituency. The
opposition refused to acknowledge the election result, and
confusion erupted when the Supreme Court first declared the
special rule invalid and then said it was valid. In the end,
three parties entered Parliament: the bright road gained 71
seats, the Social Democrats 11 and the Communist Party 8.
But the largest opposition party Ata Meken (Fosterland) was
without a mandate and the government was accused of
Disappointment over the exit made the opposition unite in
the Movement for Justice, which included nine political
parties, with the Motherland at the forefront, and another
The newly elected parliament appointed former Minister of
Industry and Energy Igor Chudinov as new head of government.