Tuesday, May 02, 2006
I feel like I should say something about Saturday's protests in Kyrgyzstan, but I really don't know what. The key issues to me are Bakiev's autocratic behavior in the lead-up to the protests and the cohesion of the protest movement itself. Below the surface, I wonder about the connections between the increasinly influential organized criminal groups in Kyrgyzstan and those in Russia, whether this has anything to do with the strong pro-Russian tilt of Bakiev's foreign policy, and finally how big a threat such a huge criminal element might pose to American national security. However, it does seem clear that Kyrgyzstan has a strong culture of protest that can hold its leaders' feet to the fire, and potentially get results, at least as far as internal corruption and stability is concerned. The situation still bears watching. The next major protests are scheduled for May 27.