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Wednesday, 28 August 2002

MEETINGS IN SUPPORT OF PRESIDENT AKAEV IN KYRGYZSTAN

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By Anna Kirey (8/28/2002 issue of the CACI Analyst)

A series of meetings in support of President Askar Akaev took place in Bishkek, as well as the Northern and Southern regions of Kyrgyzstan during the past week. They were said to be citizens' reaction to "provocation" of opposition parties. A week before that, opposition leaders Adaham Madumarov, Topchubek Turgunaliev and Ismail Isakov and human rights activist Ramazan Daryldaev presented a new bloc called "For the resignation of Askar Akaev and reforms for the people".

A series of meetings in support of President Askar Akaev took place in Bishkek, as well as the Northern and Southern regions of Kyrgyzstan during the past week. They were said to be citizens' reaction to "provocation" of opposition parties. A week before that, opposition leaders Adaham Madumarov, Topchubek Turgunaliev and Ismail Isakov and human rights activist Ramazan Daryldaev presented a new bloc called "For the resignation of Askar Akaev and reforms for the people". During the press conference, Turgunaliev stated that "80 %  of Kyrgyzstani population support the resignation".  The Government reacted very quickly, explaining on national TV that the formation and goals of the bloc were "unconstitutional" because Akaev could only resign in case of bad health, death or be impeached by the Parliament for grave crimes. 

The main "Old" square of Bishkek city was full of people in the morning of a working day. The crowd seemed disinterested in what was going on and what was being said from the tribunes. Many were talking to their friends and colleagues. Many moved to the shadow due to the enormous heat. As some of people from the crowd pointed out they worked for government-sponsored institutions and were pressured to attend the meeting. As they were interviewed, one of them asked to write down his name and institution. There also were pensioners who came with a sincere believe that Akaev is the best choice for Kyrgyzstan and that "his slow but wise reforms would finally take Kyrgyzstan to prosperity". Some people refused to be interviewed and said that they were tired after working at night but were not allowed to leave the meeting. The slogans read "Gather around President Akaev" and "We are for peace and stability", "Women's party - the strength and foundation of Akaev" and the like. Students of the American University in Kyrgyzstan who could hardly move around the square were university is situated generally found the meeting "pro-governmental, disturbing and annoying".

Speakers included government officials and representatives of different social groups - teachers, youth, and businessmen along with representatives of diasporas - all reminiscent of Soviet days, especially as they condemned "provocators and pseudodemocrats" for threatening the stability in the country. Unlike on the days when opposition parties gathered people for picketing, there was almost no police presence and no ID was checked for people entering the square. The official number of people who attended the meeting varied according to various sources from 2,000 people to 70,000 (the latter claimed by the organizer of the meeting leader of the Women's Democratic Party Tokon Shailieva).  The square's capacity is no more than 5000 people.

The situation in the country, however, is stable. There are rehearsals for celebration of the 11th anniversary of independence on the Old Square. Mass media still invite representatives of both sides of the political battlefield and continue blaming those whom they considered wrong in this issue. Meetings continue in different regions led by regional governments. There was no response from opposition leaders yet.

Anna Kirey

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