Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Russia Not Behind Kyrgyz Coup – Leading Analyst

Leading political analyst Mars Sariev dismisses rumours that Moscow backed the revolt that ousted Kurmanbek Bakiev as president.
By Nurlan Abdaliev






In a wide-ranging interview with IWPR editor Nurlan Abdaliev,, Sariev discussed the international dimensions of the recent, and unexpected, change of government in Kyrgyzstan.

 “I don’t think Russia would have dared do this, as it would have spilled over outside,” he said. “Tracing it back to Russia doesn’t make sense. The Russians wouldn’t have bungled it in this way…. What’s more important is the political backing from Moscow; the signal that Bakiev was unwanted. That suited the majority of the Kyrgyz political elite. The usurping of power and nepotism on the part of one sub-ethnic [tribal] grouping, the Ichkilik, suited neither the southern nor the northern elite. It was this imbalance that had to lead to an explosion.

The new administration has opened a more cordial relationship with Moscow, and there is every chance Moscow will reciprocate with, for example, an invitation to join its customs union of which neighbouring Kazakstan is already a member.

But Sariev predicted that Kyrgyzstan would preserve its “multi-vector” approach to foreign policy, as evidenced by the rapid building of ties with Moscow combined with assurances to Washington that the US airbase outside Bishkek is not at risk of closure.

And, he recalled, Bakiev’s rapid exit from Kyrgyzstan, which removed the risk of an attempted counter-revolution, was engineered jointly by Russia, the US and Kazakstan, the current OSCE chair. 

The audio programme, in Russian, went out on national radio stations in Kyrgyzstan, as part of IWPR project work funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.