Russia: March 25, 2005

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  Russia denied that it flew Kyrgyz president Askar Akayev out of the Russian military airbase at Kant, 20 kilometers from the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek. Pro-Russian Akayev  has been driven out of power by mass demonstrations protesting government attempts to rig recent parliamentary elections. The opposition had seized the commercial airport outside the capital, and it was widely believed that a Russian airliner was waiting there to take Akayev and his family into exile. But Akayev has shown up in neighboring Kazakhstan. Russia considers the Central Asian nations, that used to be provinces of the Soviet Union, as more than just neighbors. But these five countries are all run, as dictatorships, by former Soviet bureaucrats. This arrangement is not popular with most Central Asians, and Kyrgyzstan had the most vocal population protesting the lack of democracy. Russia, learning from the beating it took recently in Ukraine, where it backed a dictator in the face of a popular democratic uprising, has not spoken up for Akayev, and is apparently ready to get cozy with a new government in  Kyrgyzstan. The opposition that overthrew  Akayev did not contain a lot of Islamic radicals (who believe the country should be run as an Islamic state). The Kyrgyz democrats see Islamic radicalism as a hostile force, and will probably continue cooperation between Russia and Kyrgyzstan against Islamic terrorists. However, many Russians believe that the United States is behind the ouster of  Akayev, via pro-democratic NGOs and American business investments in Kyrgyzstan. There is also an American airbase next to the commercial airport outside the capital. There are some 300 U.S. Air Force personnel there. This has upset Russia. 

 

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