History's End

History will end only when Man does

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  • Saturday, February 19, 2005

    The Lemon Revolution?

    From the good folks at the Corner, I bring you hints of a possible Lemon Revolution:

    IT WOULD be either the “lemon” or the “tulip” revolution. Kazbek and his friends could not quite decide.

    But as they watched Ukraine’s Orange Revolution unfold last year, they were convinced of one thing: Kyrgyzstan could be next. Their mountainous homeland was thousands of miles east of Ukraine, and one tenth of its size, but the political parallels between the former Soviet republics were striking.

    Kyrgyzstan, like Ukraine, was hailed as a beacon of democracy after the Soviet Union’s collapse but had slipped into the standard post-Soviet habits of clan capitalism and authoritarian government.

    After 15 years in power Askar Akayev, the President, now appears determined to pack the parliament with relatives and allies at elections on February 27 — and to install his chosen successor at a presidential poll in October. Kazbek, a young Kyrgyz democracy activist, had been an election observer in Ukraine and witnessed first-hand the tactics used to mobilise opposition protests there.

    Sounds familiar, doesn't it? The parallels to Ukraine are striking. And guess who is up to even more dastardly deeds?

    In addition, the Kyrgyzstan Government has openly courted support from Russia and China, playing on their fears of US encroachment in Central Asia.

    It has asked Beijing to send election observers, while barring those from the National Democracy Institute. When the Kyrgyz Foreign Minister visited Moscow this month, Russia announced that it would double the size of its military base in Kyrgyzstan. The Kyrgyzstan Government then said that it would not allow the United States to use Awacs surveillance aircraft at its base.

    Moscow has been careful to appear impartial this time, holding talks with opposition leaders as well. But analysts say that it could be heading for another foreign policy failure.

    Putin has shown himself to be no friend of democracy, and is in fact one of the leading enemies of freedom in the modern world. The day that he and his ilk will lose power in Russia will be a good day indeed.

    As for the "Lemon Revolution," I do not think that such an attempt will be successful in February, but things could change for the October Presidential Election. Needless to say, the US needs to give democracy advocates in Krygyzstan as much support as possible. Not only will it hinder Russian plans, thereby weaking Putin's support in Russia and helping strengthen democracy there, democracy in Krygyzstan will hopefully spillover into the rest of the region. The threat of the Islamists is there, but since they don't actually believe in democracy, I suspect that they will receive rather less support at the ballot box as might be believed.

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