What initially looked like a massacre of opposition protests in Kyrgyzstan today quickly evolved into an apparently spontaneous (and violent) revolution. Protestors stormed and seized several key government buildings after police opened fire — they claim in self-defense — in the capital city, while other cities reported unrest. The ruling government appears to have collapsed suddenly. Here’s the account from Voice of America (the US government’s global propaganda media arm, so take with salt):
The political opposition in Kyrgyzstan says it has seized power, after a day of clashes in several cities that killed at least 40 people and wounded more than 400.
Opposition leaders said late Wednesday they were forming a provisional government with former Foreign Minister Roza Otunbayeva as its head. They said the current prime minister, Daniyar Usenov, had agreed to resign, but there has been no confirmation of the opposition’s claims.
The exact whereabouts of Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev are not known. Some opposition members say he has left the capital for the southern city of Osh, where he has a strong power base.
Sporadic gunfire continued overnight in the capital, Bishkek. Reuters news agency reports many buildings remain ablaze. Looters also reportedly ransacked a house belonging to Mr. Bakiev’s family.
Authorities confirmed 40 deaths, while the opposition says at least 100 people were killed.
This revolution somewhat mirrors the previous one in 2005 (the “Tulip Revolution”) that brought the ruling government to power. Since then, the country has been racked with sporadic violence from discontent under the new regime, which was seen as just as authoritarian and undemocratic and corrupt as its predecessor.
The Pentagon announced temporary closure of the controversial airbase in Kyrgyzstan, while they await the results of today’s unrest, which could result in a more anti-American government coming to power that would not be amenable to continued US presence.
This post originally appeared at Starboard Broadside.