Kyrgyzstan's government has apparently fallen
and President Akayev is rumored to have fled the capital city, if not the country, by helicopter. He may have fled to Russia or to the Russian military base in Kyrgyzstan, according to the rumors. Quite a success for an uncoordinated opposition movement. From the BBC:
[E]vents have moved at lightning speed, from a quiet demonstration in the morning to a full-scale insurrection. ... [T]he demonstration in Bishkek grew rapidly from a few hundred people to as many as 10,000.
Protesters chanting "Down with the Akayev clans" marched through the capital to the presidential palace, known as the White House.
The latest reports say a bit more about who's leading the opposition
"We will establish order. We will not allow looting. We will hold our own elections to start our rule," former prime minister and opposition figure Kurmanbek Bakiev said after the government headquarters had fallen into the hands of protesters.
Demonstrators then marched to a prison outside the town and secured the release of Felix Kulov, a former police chief who is seen as another of the opposition's main leaders.
These two men, along with other former politicos may or may not be calling the shots.
So, what's this all about? A public fed up with corruption, perhaps encouraged by the popular uprisings in Georgia and Ukraine? That's the way it's being reported, though the media has been pretty good about at least noting the strategic significance of Kyrgyzstan. As Reuters puts it:
The country of 5 million borders China and lies in an energy-rich region where Washington and Moscow vie for influence. Both powers have military bases outside the capital.
The international consequences of these events could be quite substantial.
Assuming a new government comes quickly to power, it will need to legitimate itself in at least two ways: by holding an election and by paying off all the people out on the streets today. The new leadership will need to distinguish itself from the old leadership. It will need to do one or both of two things: effectively end corruption; and/or disperse a bunch of wealth. The latter approach is simpler and faster than the former and the quickest way to get money is likely to be from international donors. There are three likely candidates: the US, Russia, and China. Of the three, I'd say that unless the opposition leaders are somehow already beholden to Russia or China, the US is probably going to become the
major player in Kyrgyzstan. China and Russia won't be happy.