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Tulip Revolution, Kyrgyzstan

Donnacha Ó Beacháin


Askar Akaev said he wanted Kyrgyzstan to be “the Switzerland of Central Asia,” but when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 the small country of five million people found itself ill-prepared for independence. The economy went into free fall and poverty was widespread. Despite an early reputation for being a progressive liberal, President Akaev adopted an increasingly authoritarian and corrupt style of rule, alienating many sections of the Kyrgyz electorate and influential members of the political elite. On March 24, 2005 his rule came abruptly to an end when the presidential palace was seized and the Akaev family fled the country. While it is well known who was unhappy with Akaev's presidency and who benefited from his overthrow, to this day it is not clear who was responsible for ousting the Kyrgyz president. By the middle of the 1990s, Kyrgyzstan, a newly independent former Soviet republic, was considered an island of democracy in a desert of Central Asian authoritarianism. It was ruled by a president who was a politician by accident, Askar Akaev. Born in 1944, the youngest of five sons, Akaev studied and taught physics in Leningrad from 1967 to 1977 before returning to Kyrgyzstan where he was respected as an academic, becoming president of the country's Academy of Sciences in 1989. On October 27, 1990, the Kyrgyz Supreme Soviet selected Akaev as a compromise choice for the new ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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