What to make of all of this? Many former Soviet republics have been trying to follow Russian President Vladimir Putin's model of "Stalin lite." Leaders have used control of the press and rigged elections (according to US and European monitors) to keep themselves in office. But this is Stalin "lite," so they haven't been willing to use force to impose an outright dictatorship-and so their bids for power are failing.
Note also that while Kyrgyzstan may seem isolated, it is scrunched between three strategically important regions: Russia, the Middle East (just north of Afghanistan), and, most interesting, China. The Daily Telegraph has a fascinating photo slideshow of the protests; you get to it by clicking the link at the top of the story. Who knows what impact these images might have in, say, China? (TIADaily.com, 03/24/05.)
In the news:
- World Press: Kremlin Loses Another Friend - Zaman.
- Opposition Takeover in Kyrgyzstan Focuses Attention on Big Power Rivalry - CNSNews.com.
- Ukraine, Georgia urge Kyrgyzstan to avoid violence - Reuters.
- Fearful Asian despots prepare to nip their tulip revolutions in bud - Sunday Times.
- After Kyrgyzstan: Is Next Stage Armenia or Belarus? - Turkish Weekly.
- Revolutionary momentum runs aground in Belarus - Seattle Times.
For more on Kyrgyzstan, read a special report by Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty.