This is Part 4 of my coverage.  You can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

It’s over folks.  Just like that, the people have taken control of their own government and Akayev is no more:

Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev has left the country with his family for Kazakhstan, Interfax reported Thursday.

Talking in an interview for CNN, a representative of OSCE said the president of Kyrgyzstan could leave the country.

The Russian Embassy in Kyrgyzstan meanwhile denied reports that Akayev has asked for a political asylum in a Russian military base.

Protesters in the central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan seized the former Soviet republic’s seat of government and forced the country’s longtime president to flee his office.

The people are in control of the government:

RIA Novosti quoted opposition leader Felix Kulov as saying Akayev had signed an official resignation statement. Kulov made his announcement to supporters in front of the government building in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek.

Kyrgyzstan’s opposition seized the main government building in the capital on Thursday and said it was ready to take control of the Central Asian country after days of violent protest.

Impoverished Kyrgyzstan looks set to become the third ex-Soviet state in two years to see its entrenched leadership fall to popular protests after disputed elections, following Ukraine and Georgia.

Thousands of opposition protesters, cheered on by residents, took to the streets of the capital Bishkek to demand veteran President Askar Akayev resign and annul what they say were fraudulent parliamentary election results.

“We will establish order. We will not allow looting. We will hold our own elections to start our rule,” former prime minister and opposition figure Kurmanbek Bakiev said after the government headquarters had fallen into the hands of protesters.

Demonstrators then marched to a prison outside the town and secured the release of Felix Kulov, a former police chief who is seen as another of the opposition’s main leaders. He was being held for abuse of power and theft.

Thousands of protesters were repelled in their first bid to enter the heavily defended White House — the seat of government. But, on their second attempt, security forces moved out of the way and let them in.

One protester could be seen waving a flag from the second floor. Above, another protester tossed documents out to the cheering crowd of thousands below. The square nearby was splattered with pools of blood.

“This is a popular revolution and the power is in the hands of the people, we don’t fear anyone any more,” said Askat Dukenbayev, a professor from the local American University.

Akayev’s resignation came after the protesters seized the Defense Minister when they captured the capital:

Protesters marched the defence minister, Esen Topoyev, out of the building, holding him by the elbows. They tried to protect him, but he was hit by stones thrown by the crowd, and one protester kicked him. Interior ministry troops led other officials out by a side door.

“I am very happy, because for 15 years we’ve been seeing the same ugly face shamelessly smiling at us,” said 35-year-old protester Abdikasim Kamalov, waving a red Kyrgyz flag. “We could no longer tolerate this. We want changes.”

“It’s the victory of the people. But now we don’t know how to stop these young guys,” said Noman Akabayev, an unsuccessful election candidate.

The demonstrators were protesting over the outcome of parliamentary elections held on February 27 and March 13, which handed Mr Akayev overwhelming control of parliament. International observers said the electoral process was flawed.

In the melee outside the government building earlier, a Bulgarian reporter was badly beaten by the police, who were attacking everyone.

But who will run the government now?

Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court has annulled February’s controversial elections and recognised the former parliament as the legitimate legislature, Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency quoted court chairman, Kurmanbek Osmonov, as saying.

Aside from that, it looks like Felix Kulov and perhaps two others will be the “face” of the new government as Akayev’s supporters adjust to the fact that he and his family (two of his children were “elected” in the recent parliamentary vote) have fled the country.

The BBC had a good interview earlier with opposition leader Edil Baisaloff, who described what happened earlier in the day in Bishkek:

I am in the central square. People are saying ‘freedom, liberty.’ Now they are celebrating but half an hour ago it was quite tense.

The opposition wanted to hold a peaceful rally but the police broke up the rally and they used a lot of violence. People got beaten up badly. Afterwards the crowd really was provoked. The main government building was overrun and people are inside.

The people were chanting ‘justice’, they were chanting ‘liberty’, they were demanding a review of the elections.

There are women, men, young, old, various ethnicities, and some of them clearly very well off. Some of them came from the rural areas.

Usually people wear orange, pink, but today for the first time, they were all wearing multi-coloured, silk scarves – rainbow colours. This is very symbolic because various political factions – each of them has their own colour – yellow, pink, red, blue, green.

Today it was a very special rally. Many of the women had tulips in their hands because tulips show it’s a peaceful rally. Kyrgyzstan is a country where tulips were originally [exported] to Europe.

The people were chanting ‘justice’, they were chanting ‘liberty’, they were demanding a review of the elections.

There are at least 20,000 people altogether – about 200-300 got inside the presidential palace. They were throwing out papers and portraits.

The following links are in Russian:

Akayev has left Kazakhstan and is due to arrive in Moscow shortly.

Felix Kulov has gone on television saying anyone who destabilizes the situation will be punished, a warning not to loot or cause mayhem.  There are reports that the largest department store in Bishkek was ransacked.

Other top administration officials have fled to Russia as well.

Prime Minister Nikolai Tanayev has also resigned, along with the head of the Interior Ministry and Deputy Interior Minister.

Felix Kulov says he does not want to be president.

That seems to be about the size of it for now.  While Akayev and his family are reported to be heading to Moscow, he has not had such a close relationship with Russia recently.

This was written earlier this morning:

Moscow appears to have learned some lessons in Ukraine. Russian officials have hosted top Kyrgyz opposition figures, leaving both sides prepared in case regime change in Kyrgyzstan becomes likely. But the Kremlin is taking care not to antagonize Akayev, to avoid repeating what happened in Moldova earlier this year, when a once pro-Moscow president turned against his Russian mentors.

The West’s relationship with Kyrgyzstan is more tangled than its relations with Ukraine and Georgia. Akayev was considered the most liberal of Central Asia’s presidents in the 1990s, but his democratic reputation soured as he amassed more and more power for his allies. Then he was again in favor in 2001, when Washington needed his permission to install U.S. air bases in Kyrgyzstan for the war in Afghanistan.

Akayev and some Russian observers accuse western sources of funding and fomenting the unrest in Kyrgyzstan. But as the crisis has unfolded, U.S. officials have kept a low profile, unlike they did in Ukraine and Georgia. They appear more concerned with U.S. security interests – and their relationship with China, on Kyrgyzstan’s eastern border – than democratic revolutions.

Russia and the United States have more in common when it comes to Kyrgyzstan than both sides seem willing to admit. Both have a military presence there, and both want stability in the region but have reservations about Akayev. Both are determined to retain influence in Central Asia: Moscow wants to keep Washington from gaining the upper hand, and Washington wants to make sure it doesn’t become a Russian fiefdom. Facing off over Kyrgyzstan would put both sides’ goals at risk.

Hooray for democracy and for fair and transparent elections!  You did it!

Congratulations Kyrgyzstan!!!

This article cross-posted from my blog, where you are humbly invited to visit


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