Now former president of Kyrgyzstan, Almazbek Atambayev, was removed from office on charges of corruption. In an attempt to arrest Atambayev, the Kyrgyzstani government sent in security and special forces to his compound, armed solely with rubber bullets as to avoid any loss of life. Atambayev’s supporters, armed with guns, barricaded themselves around his compound and used force against the security forces, leaving one officer dead. Following this attempt, Atambayev is now in custody, and his supporters are standing their ground throughout the centre of Bishkek, continuing to use violence and force. The Kyrgyzstani police are now using non-lethal force to counter.
Current president, Sooronbay Jeenbekov, spoke to parliament following the events of Atambayev’s arrest and stated that “Atambayev and his supporters put up armed resistance with the use of a firearm. They have gone far beyond the law.” President Jeenbekov went on to tell his security council that “Almazbek Atambayev gravely trampled upon the constitution and laws of the Kyrgyzstan.” It is clear that President Jeenbekov is not taking the actions of Atambayev and his supporters lightly. While what has transpired in Kyrgyzstan may seem to have come out of nowhere to some, Chris Weafer, an expert on Eurasian geopolitics, saw it coming. In an interview with DPA news, Weafer claimed, “It has been clear for some time that a standoff between the current and former presidents was inevitable, especially after Atambayev said he would not work with the current president and would seek to work around him.” “The country was facing the prospect of two governments under the elected president and the former president.”
Despite his denouncement of the charges, Atambayev was found guilty of corruption and enrichment. With that being said, there will always be people who will remain loyal for various reasons. However, it is when people abuse their right to protest and taint it with violence that it becomes unacceptable. As with all things, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about having one’s voice heard. Of course, it would have been optimal for Atambayev’s arrest to have been carried out without the use of force. With that being said, the Kyrgyzstani government felt the need to send in security forces. In the case where security forces are deemed necessary, the Kyrgyzstani government must be commended for only allowing the use of rubber bullets and other forms of non-lethal tactics. Here, it falls upon the people to respond to these kinds of situations peacefully and to show respect to the process of the justice system; not to come out with firearms and use them at will.
In order for Kyrgyzstan to continue developing and move into a brighter future, there must be a sense of unity among the people as well as between civil society and the government. While it is unrealistic to ever expect a population to truly trust and feel united with its government, it is realistic to work towards. This can be done by increasing civil liberties, public projects, education, and transparency of the government. The previously mentioned ideas, however, do not work without one key ingredient. That ingredient is the fostering and promotion of peace, equality, and discussion among the people and the government.