Search RFE/RL

Ousted President Tells RFE/RL of ‘Mistakes’ on First Anniversary of Kyrgyzstan’s ‘Tulip Revolution’

(Prague, Czech Republic — March 24, 2006) As Kyrgyzstan today celebrated the first anniversary of People’s Revolution Day, former president Askar Akayev spoke to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Kyrgyz Service about his political and personal mistakes and his decision to abandon the presidency. The Kyrgyz Service also broadcast current president Kurmanbek Bakiev’s speech to the nation and interviewed people around the country about the revolution and its aftermath.

The so-called “Tulip Revolution,” which forced Akayev to seek sanctuary in Moscow, was the last of the “color revolutions” in the countries of the former Soviet Union; looting afterwards made it the most violent. Akayev’s fall marked the first time in more than a decade that a leader in Central Asia was replaced.

Akayev spoke candidly in an exclusive interview with RFE/RL Kyrgyz Service correspondent Cholpon Orozobekova. Akaev said that, in retrospect, he wished he had not waited until after the 2005 parliamentary election and brought new people into government earlier to replace “tired and neglectful managers.” “This was my big mistake,” Akayev said. He also suggested that his political opposition in the country was allied with criminal elements, a fact he said he discovered after the revolution, which took him by surprise. “I did not ever think of that, that the opposition might rely on the drug Mafia and organize a coup d’etat,” Akayev said.

The former president, who has a doctorate in physics and once taught at the Poytechnic Institute in Bishkek (known during the Soviet era as Frunze), is now an academic lecturing at Moscow State University and says he is happy having returned to academic life.

Today is an official holiday in Kyrgyzstan and Akayev’s elected successor, President Kurmanbek Bakiev addressed a celebrating crowd on Bishkek’s Central (Alatoo) Square. RFE/RL Kyrgyz Service correspondents covered the event live, as part of a special morning program devoted to the first anniversary. Bakiev said that “within one year, we have managed to address several problems in the economic sector. Our national currency is strong and stable. It means that the overall economic situation was not weakened. There is progress in collecting taxes. The budget surplus has been increased and the conditions to address social issues have been created.”

The special program on RFE/RL’s Radio Azattyk continued with an interview with the Kyrgyz minister of culture, regional reports on how people feel about the anniversary in the three largest cities — Osh, Bishkek and Jalalabad, and a panel discussion that included former foreign minister Rosa Otunbayeva, now in opposition.

RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service broadcasts five hours of programming a day to the Kyrgyz Republic, produced in Prague and in the service’s Bishkek bureau and transmitted to listeners via satellite signals and AM, FM and UKV frequencies provided by local affiliate stations. The service also jointly produces with state-owned Kyrgyz Television (KTR) two weekly television programs, the youth-oriented show “Azattyk Plus” and news analysis program “Inconvenient Questions”. Kyrgyz Service programming is also available via the Internet, at the service’s website and at; English-language news about events in the Kyrgyz Republic can also be found on the RFE/RL website.