Update from Bishkek

BY BEN JUDAH 

Saturday 10th April

  •  Central Bishkek is firmly under the control of the army and security forces. Quiet has returned but shops are still locked, traffic is slight and people are still milling in the central square. There is confusion over who exactly the new government are and what they stand for. Bishkek seems happy Bakiyev has gone but is only know starting to face up to the enormity of the damage and the casualties. 
  • Kyrgyzstan faces economic collapse. The banking system is still down, the main north south road is blocked and the country’s western and northern borders have been sealed. The tourism industry has been dealt a perhaps fatal blow by the images of chaos we have been seeing and people have still not returned to work.The unrest may spark further waves of migrants and emigration to Russia. Foreign investment banks believe they have lost their holdings and there are reports of nationalizations and seizures of factories. An emerging market has submerged.
  • It is still unclear what the opposition stand for – apart from not being the Bakiyev clan. Crude, nationalist and vague slogans about “the people this” or “democracy that” are in the air. Opposition is a coalition of clan based, personality driven parties. They are making different statements about relationship with the US, whilst their supporters cite very different slogans.
  • Crowds are laying flowers for the dead on the main square as ethnic Russians who make up 20-30% of the city’s population mull emigration to the motherland. Kyrgyzstan is 12% Russian and this is why Russia has been so involved here, unlike in South Ossetia there are very real human stakes at play for Putin here. He needs to protect Russians abroad or risk being seen as weak.
  • Bakiyev is still loose in the south and nobody is certain what is going on outside the capital. Osh, the second city, is reportedly been seized by opposition figures as Bakiyev’s main control the city of Jalal-Abad, where he is reported to be with 20 armed men. The opposition claims it will hold a mass rally in Jalal-Abad today. An extremely high risk of violence. Bakiyev’s men have nowhere else to go, though he has been offered safe passage for him alone abroad. Russia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan won’t have him.
  • Different opposition factions control different towns in the country. Kyrgyzstan is now Chaostan.
  • Confirmed reports that President Bakiyev is in a compound surrounded by over 200 armed men in the southern city of Jalabat, his home town. Earlier 5000 rallied peacefully. Local source say things are calm for now.
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