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More Expert Commentary on Kyrgyzstan

- April 9, 2010

Professor “Lucan Way”:http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/polsci/faculty_staff/ourfaculty/way_lucan.html, last seen at the Monkey Cage “writing on Ukrainian elections”:https://themonkeycage.org/2010/02/2010_urkrainian_presidential_e.html, sends along the following comments:

bq. These events seems to be much less about democracy or corruption and much more about Kyrgyzstan’s extraordinarily weak state. Kyrgyzstan 2010 is much more Haiti in 2004 and Madagascar in 2002 and 2009 than Ukraine in 2004. I argued in the Journal of Democracy in January 2008 (“The Real Causes of the Color Revolutions”:http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/journal_of_democracy/v019/19.3.way.pdf) that the 2005 “Tulip revolution” was caused less by the size of protests (which numbered in the thousands) and much more by the state’s underpaid and weak coercive structures that made it possible for a small number of lightly armed protesters to seize large parts of the country and then the capital. The recent events seem to be following a similar pattern.

bq. Thus, the question is not how corrupt or autocratic Bakiev is/was but why the state and regime collapsed so easily.

Professor “Eric McGlinchey”:http://mason.gmu.edu/~emcglinc/, another one of the US’s top experts on Kyrgyz politics, had this to say about my first “Kyrgyz post”:https://themonkeycage.org/2010/04/kyrgyz_noncolored_revolution_i.html related to the use of Twitter to follow events.

bq. “ICT”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ICT has definitely changed how we’re following this–your points are well taken. That said, there is a lot of bad information floating around. We thought Bakiev was on his way to Kazakhstan… and then he turns up in Osh. We thought things had quieted down, and now [he was writing on Wednesday – jt] it’s chaos in the streets of Bishkek.

bq. What ICT gives us are 100s of narrow view images — the view from the apartment balcony, the view locked up inside of the newsroom, the view from the reckless “dzhigit” (dude) texting from outside the Beta store… that is being looted or is about to be looted. And we are left to assemble these fragments of information into a narrative that may or may not be some approximation of reality. It’s like a hundred terribly near sighted museum goers trying to provide an overall description of a large scale canvas.

bq. I think you’re right, it’s not a “revolution.” There is a strong political element, though. Bakiev declared an end to “democracy” last month and was convening — in the typically autocratic way — a kuraltai “of the people.” These clumsy missteps may merely be proximate to today’s events… but I’d wager they had some causal role as well.

I welcome other comments from Kyrgyz/post-Soviet experts who want to email me directly.