The capital erupts in violence . . .
Rival opposition factions in Kyrgyzstan took to the streets and stormed government buildings in the capital Bishkek this week. Their actions were in response to large-scale vote-buying allegations during the parliamentary elections last weekend. On Wednesday, mobs broke into a hotel where parliamentarians had convened, forcing the interim prime minister to flee and then resign. Protesters are also demanding the impeachment of pro-Russia President Sooronbai Jeenbekov. Clashes once again broke out on the capital’s streets on Friday, shortly after Jeenbekov imposed a state of emergency.
Gold, geopolitical competition, corruption . . .
Kyrgyzstan, famous for its gold and mineral reserves, is often caught in the middle of Russian, Chinese and U.S. efforts to vie for influence in the Central Asia country of 6.3 million. Marred by political corruption and caught between geopolitical pressures, the government has seen a high turnover of prime ministers since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Protesters have twice removed sitting presidents (2005 and 2010). One of the notable shifts in the Russo-Sino-U.S. powerplay in the country over the last decade has been the increased share of national debt owed to China’s Export-Import Bank. Much of the recent years’ Kyrgyz-China co-operation has come under the banner of the Belt and Road Initiative. The two countries share a 1,060 km border.
Mining operations not yet in the clear . . .
Media reports indicate protesters have also entered the offices of several major mining companies in the country and showed up at some mine sites, including Russian, Chinese, and Turkish-owned operations. Toronto-headquartered Centerra Gold, which operates the country’s largest mine, had its office broken into but has said operations were continuing uninterrupted. A continuation of violence and riots at mine sites and in the capital could give President Jeenbekov an excuse to use harsh measures, including military force, to restore order.