12 April 2010

A Depressing Revolution

It's difficult to read this piece by Ben Judah, who was on the ground in Kyrgyzstan during the rioting, and be very optimistic about the prospects for success in the post-Bakiyev era. Actually, Awesome's initial comment seems particularly poignant here:

Anyway, I'll wait patiently and see if a new government actually gets installed, and then I'll wait some more and see if that government actually does anything different than the old one. Maybe they should learn from Ukraine's example and re-elect Bakiyev just to save everyone a lot of time.

Judah paints a pretty bleak picture of the Kyrgyz mob that put the opposition in power. According to the article, there was no clear goal or plan in mind, just blind rage at the country's economic deterioration. You also don't get the sense that the protests were ever intended to be anything other than violent, since the protesters were rolling in with gas masks and AKs.

One other disturbing aspect of Judah's account is the role that vague, half-baked notions and conspiracy theories seemed to play. Some of the rioters he quotes make allusions to Russia being behind the revolts. Some others claim that the Bakiyev government was controlled by a Jewish cabal. Another guy suggests that Lenin would be a good model for a new Kyrgyz leadership.

Can such a bleak, problematic revolution lead to a brighter future for the state? It's difficult to say. Romania was the only member of the Eastern Bloc to suffer a bloody break with its communist past, and it doesn't seem to have fared too much worse than its neighbors as a result. However, it would be a lot easier to be hopeful about the post-revolution prospects for Kyrgyzstan if the protests that brought down the government had looked more like this than like this:

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