Parliamentary republic, non-parliamentary public
The passport of one of the locals, torn by special task forces during cleansing in the village of Nariman. Photo © Ivar Dale/NHC
Last Sunday the alleged all-people’s referendum took place in former Kyrgyz Soviet Socialistic Republic and currently independent state, small and so far away from average Russian citizen. The citizens of half-devastated country were reached by the election commissioners in the ruins of burned houses and delivered the voting ballot; they approved the text of new Constitution they never read and, by the way, elected the interim president until 2011.
For the first time Central Asia, known for its emirates, khanates and tyrannies, produced parliament-oriented republic. For the first time a woman became the president of post-Soviet Asian state.
We can only guess what ordinary people in Kyrgyzstan view in the nature of constitutional changes and how the content of the Constitution reflects their needs. However, I am almost sure that for the majority of voters the ballot, thrown in the box, had different meaning than what was written there.
Little less than three months ago people, indignant with poor economic conditions, overthrew another authoritarian ruler for the second time in the last five years, bringing to power yesterday’s opposition leaders that seriously pretended to be democrats. Only two months later the same folks organized the bloodbath in the south of the republic that can be compared only with the chaos of five-year civil war in neighboring Tajikistan.
No doubt, there were also instigators and organizers from outside; everyone believes these were the relatives of former president. The sharpshooters took their seats at sacred Suleiman Mountain in Osh, the symbol of peaceful co-existence of all religions. It all began as planned incitement of all against all with the release of living space through the revolt of poor village against wealthy city. On the other hand, the yesterday’s civilians rushed to succumb to provocation: they started slaughtering each other with no geographic and socio-political segmentation, seeing only blood identify and disregarding common religious background. The walls still reflect non-painted signs – "Kyrgyz", "Russian", "Sart". The first two categories survived. The last one ("Sart" means "Uzbek") was less lucky.
The ancient city of Osh, dominated by Uzbek population, turned into big crying mess with camp crematorium and undertaking in the same place. Ultimately, peaceful and wealthier Uzbek, only stating his cultural autonomy and quoted representation in the government, was "topped" by Kyrgyz, relying on monoethnic (i.e. sister) police, army, emergency doctors and drivers of gasoline tankers.
I would like to underline that the government, represented by local police and special task forces, had clear position in the intercommunal conflict: it supported ethnic majority – Kyrgyz. "No one helps Uzbeks here", my friends in Osh shared over the phone. It is still unclear where almost hundred thousand of refugees, flooding neighboring Uzbekistan, have gone. Official Tashkent did not continue dialogue with starving, wailing and separated families of Osh Uzbeks, begging not to let them be torn to pieces. Precisely by the referendum date they were taken home by buses – to the smoke of Kyrgyz "fatherland". Allegedly, "displaced people were hosted by relatives". Simply speaking, they sit and tremble in the basements of houses, sleep rough, eat rare cake and drink tea while the official sources report their active voting in the referendum.
The new government is not rushing to punish the policemen, conniving the pogrom-makers, and fundamentally suppress Nazism. Immediate actions may push away the most active and high-spirited national patriotic electorate. Nonetheless, it is at least imprudent to disregard the mass energy: you may lose your chair in another uprising.
While the Kyrgyz elite were initiating the revolutions one after another the life for common people remained unchanged; in fact, it was deteriorating. We have observed neither radical shift of elite circles nor real modernization of local authorities. The rulers declare the ideals of freedom and democracy while common people demonstrate moral degradation and obduracy against all.
The new fratricidal Kyrgyz-Uzbek nightmare, which was sparked again after 20-year break, marked new and strict axes system for many years both for the government and miserable people. Will new Constitution help overcome deepest antagonism between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks that was revived after the bloodshed? Are yesterday’s opposition leaders able to unite common hatred against Bakiev and lead the republic to new life without tyranny, Nazism and corruption on the background of total poverty and permanent street unrest?
I am afraid, no. Immediate adoption of new laws, reformatting of formal political establishment in the lobbies will not solve the problems in the economy and public morality that have been accumulated in many years. The issues of interethnic coexistence in today’s Kyrgyzstan are most important. No one in the government has an idea how to solve them.
Neither do common people that attended the referendum on Constitution, but voted for tomorrow's stability, peace in the residential areas, strong power, still expected in Kyrgyzstan.
The new parliamentary elections will take place in Kyrgyzstan this fall. What are we going to see there? Will today’s team of interim leaders fight each other? Will the emotions splash on the squares? Will people seek for new enemy? Will poor republic again witness the fight for "money" and personal authority between leaders, clans and ethnicities, not able to negotiate each other? If this is the case and the republic does not find the leaders, able to consolidate people, the nation will not survive.
No third forces, be it Russia, CSTO, European police observers or Martians, will help out.
Daniil Kislov, the Chief Editor of Ferghana.Ru news agency. The article is also published in Moskovskiy komsomolec. N140, 29.06.2010, page 3