November 27, 2005

Strategic Deception Update

Now You See Them, Now You Don’t

Kyrgyzstan’s Re-Disappearing Communists

The Soviet renewal of Communism — referred to as a “collapse” in the western news media — has seen its credibility wear rather thin while awaiting the big international revolution. After more than a decade, the Soviets can see the need either to change strategy or to breathe new life into their aging deception. Not being of terribly flexible mentality, they appear to be choosing the “warmed-up leftovers” approach.

Kyrgyzstan has remained one of the staler corners of the Soviet world. Its recent dictator, Askar A. Akayev, was an unremarkable Communist Party official selected to oversee the republic in 1990. When the Soviet Union claimed it was breaking up the next year, Akayev hardly seemed to notice and kept ruling with obvious approval from Moscow. Everything remained as before: the re-named Communist ruling structure, the secret police, the concentration camps, even the Russian soldiers. Although Kyrgyzstan has been receiving more U.S. foreign aid than any of the other Asian Soviet republics, that’s still far below Soviet hopes. So, time for a costume change.

From the midst of a terrorized, tightly-controlled society permeated with informants arose a “spontaneous” opposition led by “former” government officials. Last March, it boldly led demonstrations and riots, seized control of government buildings, sent dictator Akayev into exile — and promptly restored the entire Communist apparatus as if nothing had happened. The western news and the U.S. State Department are treating the event as the arrival of democracy, even though they previously insisted democracy had already been there since 1991.

Despite appearances, the uprising had support in high places. As one news source put it, “There is wide agreement that Russia could have prevented the sudden and chaotic disintegration of Akayev’s government.”1 With a military base just outside the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, Soviet Russia was unquestionably in full control of what happened, yet seemingly did nothing. Sergei Mironov, chairman of the Russian Federation Council, publicly admitted this was official policy.2

The same was true of the Kyrgyz security forces, never known for hesitating to carry out mass murder, but who this time were strangely under explicit, public orders not to fire on the demonstrators during the entire several days of protests. Reporters described “what appeared to be the near-paralysis of emergency and law enforcement services” in Bishkek. Police were seen standing by and merely watching while the riots proceeded.3

False rumors spread that the police had vanished. “Many witnesses said police were nowhere in evidence in Bishkek’s streets,” reported one source. Yet an Associated Press photo clearly shows government troops, apparently armed, standing together with cheering demonstrators and allowing them to enter and raid the government building in the capital.4 The “witnesses,” presumably secret police agents under cover, simply lied to disguise the bizarre spectacle of cooperation between troops and protestors.

The number and degree of protests are themselves uncertain. Many of the alleged incidents were reported by Kyrgyz witnesses of unknown allegiance or by Russian news services, with no outside observers present. And at least some of the pictures were provided by photographers with conspicuously Russian or Kyrgyz-sounding names, and could have been staged.5 The scope of the uprising was probably exaggerated, with only isolated events performed for the benefit of foreign news reporters.

Presumably the demonstrators themselves were merely Communists or secret police agents dressed as civilians, since no normal citizen would dare show up and risk a later trip to one of the notorious Soviet prisons or concentration camps. Communist officials certainly ran the opposition; the People’s Movement of Kyrgyzstan was headed by Kurmanbek Bakiyev, a former premier in the Kyrgyz regime, while the Ar-Namys Party had similarly been under the leadership of Felix Kulov, former vice president and security minister in charge of the republic’s secret police.6

By the time the dust settled, dictator Akayev’s carefully chosen parliament had named former premier Bakiyev as “prime minister,” who then made former Security Minister Kulov the new security minister, once again in charge of the secret police.7 Bakiyev and Kulov, in turn, backed the authority of the very parliament that the opposition had supposedly fought, while extending full legal protections to the exiled Akayev.8

Within hours of the “new” government’s formation, the theatrical mask of democratic change was dropping. “Kyrgyzstan’s new leaders moved swiftly… to assert power a day after taking the reins of government, while police and former protesters worked together to guard against renewed looting in this Central Asian nation’s capital.”9 The demonstrators themselves quickly organized as “ad hoc security units working with police,” acting very much as if they were already well trained in security work.10


1. Murphy, K., “Russia fumbles, and former sphere of influence deflates,” Los Angeles Times, March 26, 2005, p. A1, A6.

2. Murphy, K. & Holley, D., “Popular uprising in strategic Kyrgyzstan topples regime,” Los Angeles Times, March 25, 2005, p. A1, A11.

3. Ibid.; Holley, D., “Kyrgyz protesters burn a police building,” Los Angeles Times, March 21, 2005, p. A3.

4. Murphy & Holley, Los Angeles Times, 3/25/05, Op cit.

5. Ibid.

6. Holly, Los Angeles Times, 3/21/05, Op cit.; Holley, D., “Fervor dies down in Bishkek,” Los Angeles Times, April 4, 2005, p. A3.

7. Murphy & Holley, Los Angeles Times, 3/25/05, Op cit.

8. Holley, D., “Kyrgyzstan’s leader endorses the newly elected parliament,” Los Angeles Times, March 29, 2005, p. A3; Holley, D., “Kyrgyz ex-opposition starts to splinter,” Los Angeles Times, March 28, 2005, p. A3; Holley, D., “Ousted Kyrgyz president agrees on terms of exit,” Los Angeles Times, April 4, 2005, p. A3.

9. Holley, D., “New leader seeks to calm Kyrgyzstan,” Los Angeles Times, March 26, 2005, p. A5.

10. Ibid.