There appear to be less traffic and fewer people on the streets of Bishkek today, the day before the opposition political movement has pledged to stage demonstrations in the capital until its demands are met. They opposition wants the resignation of the President Bakiyev and his family members, constitutional reforms to diminish the power of the presidency and increase the authority of the parliament, state funding for a public television network, and state assistance to reopen an “independent,” pro-opposition network whose offices were recently sacked just a few days before its was schedule to resume broadcasting.
Bakiyev, for his part, has promised to respond with force to any violent demonstrations. He assumed the presidency in March 2005 after the “Tulip Revolution” ousted President Akiev, who held office since the Krygyz Republic gained independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991. The opposition movement, much of it based in the parliament, claims Bakiyev has failed to deliver the reforms the promised a year and a half ago.
American University decided late yesterday afternoon to cancel classes on Thursday and Friday. Many of students in class Tuesday expressed fear and anxiety about the possibility of turmoil. AUCA is also across the street form the Parliament building and three bocks from the “White Office,” the offices of the president. The university vice president of academic affairs is also reportedly an active member of the opposition.
Good information is difficult to find, but there are rumors that yesterday the police began stopping and checking vehicles heading into the city. The road in front of the main square, where the demonstrations are likely to occur, has been blocked off for a couple of days, though that has occurred a couple of times since I arrived here.
I just returned from the grocery with some provisions in the event businesses are closed. Last March many businesses, especially foreign-owned ones, were trashed and looted, so it seems reasonable that some will close tomorrow as a precautionary measure. My apartment is close to the main square and I hope to get some first-hand observations tomorrow. At this point, I see nothing to worried about, and I will update this blog as I can.
For those who might be interested, I can email you a recent article by a Swedish researcher that provides some background and analysis on the current state of the Kyrgyzstan. I found it very informative. Stay tuned…