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Kyrgyzstan: Business, Corruption and the Manas Airbase

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Kyrgyzstan's mass anti-government protests last week were essentially the culmination of more than a decade of disillusionment and dissatisfaction that accumulated in the nation's political, economic and social spheres from the period of Akayev to his successor Kurmanbek Bakiyev, with virtually every Kyrgyz concerned about rising prices and falling standards of living, both issues of little concern and dimly understood in Washington.

BAKIYEV FLEES

The diplomatic logjam over the fate of deposed President Kurbanbek Bakiyev has apparently ended, as on 15 April Russia's Itar-Tass news agency reported that Bakiyev, along with his younger brother Dzhanysh, former head of the country's feared National Security Service (NSS) and the presidential guard and former Defense Minister Bakytbek Kalyev had fled the country. Kazakh Foreign Ministry Spokesman Kazakhstan Askar Abdyrakhmanov subsequently confirmed that their military aircraft arrived in Taras, Kazakhstan. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) office in Bishkek issued a statement that Bakiyev left "as a result of joint efforts by President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, (U.S. President) Barack Obama and the Russian Federation (President) Dmitrii Medvedev, as well as the active mediation of the OSCE, the UN and the EU." According to interim government member Almambek Shykmamotov, Bakiyev was allowed to leave the country after signing a formal resignation statement.

While Kyrgyzstan's political impasse has been resolved by Bakiyev's sudden departure, expect to see furious behind the scenes politicking in Bishkek, particularly between Russia and the U.S. as both attempt to strengthen their influence with interim Prime Minister Roza Otumbayev's administration at the expense of the other.

Two issues are likely to dominate Kyrgyzstan's political scene in upcoming weeks negotiating as much foreign aid as possible and recovering as much of the money looted by the Bakiyev kleptocracy as possible.

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