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Kyrgyzstan: 17/05/10 – Come what May….

A ‘slow news’ week in Kyrgyzstan last week was disturbed only by increasingly loudly-whispered rumours of a possible ‘counter-revolution’ on May 17th. Edil Baisalov, Chief of Staff for provisional government Chairwoman Rosa Otunbaeva, has dismissed [eng/ru] the reports of  planned gatherings as merely that – rumours.

However, whilst Baisalov's statement appeared to refute the idea that the talk could contain an element of truth, he also felt the need to mention three names in his statement to the press – names that have been recycling themselves across popular domestic Internet forums such as ‘Diesel’ [ru] as speculation over the date increases.

“The meetings of May 17 are rumours […]. Let him that would dare to challenge the provisional government come out in force. We have hundreds of thousands of supporters that will repel every Bakiev, Akaev and Baryktabasov,” Baisalov said.

Whilst for those who have been following events in Kyrgyzstan over the course of the last month, the appearance of expelled president Kurmanbek Bakiev [eng] on this list requires no qualification, the other two names provide food for thought.

Askar Akaev [eng/ru] is the country's Moscow-based former-president, a man who was forced to leave office in 2005, in the midst of the Tulip Revolution that brought Bakiev to power. Urmat Baryktbasov [ru], meanwhile, is a virtual unknown beyond the country's borders, but has his supporters inside them after an abortive attempt to run for president in the elections seven years ago.

Whilst Baisalov was bullish in his attitude towards the rumours, it may be too early to label it as ‘disinformation’ yet. May 17th will mark the passing of 40 days since the deaths of those killed in the Kyrgyz capital on April 7 during the popular uprising and the subsequent violence – the end of the traditional period of mourning in local Islamic culture. Although it is equally possible that rumour-mongers have seized on this date in a lazy attempt to stir unrest in the country, a tortured relationship with mass media which has endured since the Soviet period, has left many to rely on ‘word of mouth’ as opposed to newspapers, television and radio reports.

“Much of this can be treated as OGS ( ‘One Granny Said’),” concluded ‘Diesel’ user axymus,[ru] “but due to intensive discussion in society, these rumours have gathered strength. Until recently, I was  inclined not to trust this kind of talk, but the events of April 7, 2010 have shown that rumours are the real information.”

Other bloggers are using the relative quiet at the moment to speculate on various personalities involved in the ongoing struggle for power and legitimacy in Kyrgyzstan.

Akiyat [ru] vents his rage at what he perceives as a selfishness on the part of deputies who held seats in the (recently dissolved) Jogorku Kenesh [parliament]. Ishak Masaliev [ru], leader of  the Communist Party of Kyrgyzstan and Alisher Mamasaliev [ru], a prominent deputy in the former president's party Ak Zhol, both took the decision not to recognize the provisional government's decree dissolving the parliament, and have announced that business as usual will continue on May 20, a decision Akiyat determines can only lead to further uncertainty and instability in the country:

‘But sorry, you do not know how to do it![be a deputy in a functioning parliament] After all, all the decisions were taken for you and all you had to do was raise your hands, nod your head and shout “Heil, Hitl … sorry, Bakiev!”… You couldn't care less what happens to the country if there is a new political struggle.’

The most recent ‘emergency session’ of the Jogorku Kenesh – which took place [ru] in order to recognize the same government that had decreed its dissolution – was held in a hotel, and according to Akiyat, was largely considered  ‘a meaningless farce':

‘The puppeteer left the country and the dolls have become homeless – capricious, shouting, sorry, defecating. But who will listen to them?’ the blogger asked.

Elsewhere, sahlan [ru] makes [ru] the amusing suggestion that since the interim Minister of Culture is a former policeman, a painter or sculptor should, by rights, be appointed as the interim Minister of the Interior. That post is currently occupied by Batirbek Alimbekov, [eng] who replaced Bolot Sherniyazov [eng] at the end of last month.

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