Various news agencies are reporting casualties as a result of the police action. It is estimated that approximately 2,000 pro-government protestors clashed with a equal number of pro-reformers. From Monsters and Critics:
The longer-term political fate of the Central Asian nation was unclear. Large-scale rallies began last Thursday after President Kurmanbek Bakiyev failed to accept a new constitution that would limit executive powers.
Since then, not a day has passed without pro-reform demonstrators taking to the streets. Roughly 200 tents have been set up on squares in the center of Bishkek. On Tuesday, a Kyrgyz national holiday, opposition lawmakers told a crowd gathered on the central Alatoo Square that a parliamentary committee had passed the new constitution.
"The creation of the (special committee) and acceptance of the constitution were a necessary step from our side, dictated by the developing political situation in the country," said Deputy Kubatbek Baibolov, Russia's Interfax news agency reported.
But the government refused to recognize the committee's legitimacy, saying the new constitution would not be passed before protesters dispersed.
"The government is working, the president is working. It is only the parliament that has problems," Bakiyev said in Russian at a news conference.
"The constitution should be passed not when a crowd of demonstrators is standing beneath our windows, but only in peaceful conditions," Prime Minister Felix Kulov, formerly a political rival of Bakiyev but now mired with him in the constitutional crisis, said.
The opposition has yet to win the clear lion's share of the country's support. The pro-government rally, dubbed For Stability in a play on the For Reforms opposition party, attracted its own healthy share of demonstrators on Bishkek's Old Square.
It was unclear whether there was any pressure applied to increase support for the government. Bakiyev said Tuesday that he was ready to discuss the constitution with the opposition and that he had no intention of disbanding the parliament. Bishkek itself was otherwise relatively peaceful Tuesday. Streets were open to traffic, and public transport functioned normally, Interfax reported.
Various pundits are busily writing their opinions about the events that are unfolding in Bishkek and Kyrgyzstan. Of course, these columnists write about the vested interests of both Russia and the United States in the region, and look for the invisible hand of each in the politics in the region. Depending upon who you read and believe, the Tulip Revolution was created by the US or Berezovsky, but Bakiev is seen as Pro-Russian or possibly Pro-Berezovsky. Asia Times columnist M. K. Bhadrakumar cites the whole situation as being the result of US interference in the region, without regard for its history. Poor Russia is working to remedy and stabilize the tiny country.
Arguably, Moscow cannot really complain about Bakiyev's policies, even if there are shortfalls in its expectations (as there are bound to be), but it has been nonetheless disinclined to be seen endorsing his policies. The lessons of the "color revolutions" in Georgia and Ukraine have been well understood in Moscow. Thus Moscow has diversified its contacts with various political constituencies in Kyrgyzstan and is careful not to be seen as partisan.
Moscow certainly has encouraged the Bakiyev-Kulov "tandem" to continue, and may well continue to do what it can behind the scenes to ensure that Kyrgyz politics do not descend into anarchy, while steadily expanding and consolidating Russia's strategic gains in Kyrgyzstan in the aftermath of the abortive "color revolution" last year.
Moscow has been astutely exploiting the lack of any creative content in the United States' regional policy, especially in the all-important economic sphere. But there are limits to what Russia can do in resuscitating the Kyrgyz economy. Moscow also probably realizes that the enduring legacy of the Tulip Revolution is that the US has pushed Kyrgyzstan into the status of a faltering state, and even a restoration of the status quo ante, let alone economic progress and healthy social development, will be a long haul.
The anarchic conditions of rioting and arson that followed the US-engineered "color revolution" last year have fundamentally shaken up Kyrgyzstan's state structures and undermined the rule of law. No amount of rhetorical justification for the Tulip Revolution in the name of the US administration's democracy agenda can hide the fact that the attempt to impose lively, youthful US-style democracy on a society as old and tradition-bound as Kyrgyzstan was bound to be catastrophic.
Meanwhile, Kommersant reports that the crowds are against what they see as an Anti-Russian policy of Bakiev and his reported ties to Berezovsky:
“The slogan of today's meeting,” parliament member Temir Sariev told the crowd, “is Kyrgyzstan with Russia, Bakiev with Berezovsky.'”I'll have more details on the events in Bishkek later this evening when I return home. Lunchtime only affords me a few moments for this post.
There has been talk in Bishkek for a long time about Bakiev's secret ties to Boris Berezovsky. Several months ago, information appeared in the press that Berezovsky had flown from London to Bishkek at the personal invitation of the president's son Maxim Bakiev.
“Are you purposefully focusing attention on the information about Berezovsky's trip to Bishkek to deprive Bakiev of Kremlin support?” I asked parliamentarian Melis Eshimknaov as the meeting was reaching high pitch. “Do you think that will help you gain Kremlin support.”
“Of course we are trying to get on Putin's nerves, to show him that his ally has connections with his blood enemy!”
Just then lawyer Oleg Trofimov began speaking from the truck. “Bakiev would seem to be an enemy of the people,” Trofimov began. “About 500,000 of our Kyrgyz brothers live and work in Russia. What will happen if they cannot send money to their families? But Kurmanbek Bakiev has pushed our relations with Russia almost to the breaking point with his connection with Berezovsky! Say no to Bakiev and Berezovsky!”
Quick Note: Elena informs me that 17 from special forces and 22 protestors from rally were taken to hospital as a result of todays events. More details of the day are provided on her blog.