By R.B. Moreno
I woke to news this morning from my shortwave radio that opposition protesters took control of the Kyrgyz government late yesterday, likely at the same time footage of the unrest began filling TV airwaves. The BBC reported that the power vacuum has prompted looting and sporadic violence across the country, and it aired an interview with a woman attempting to restore order: Roza Otunbayeva, a former Soviet representative to the UN who played a role in the 2005 Tulip Revolution that swept Kurmanbek Bakiyev to power. Otunbayeva said the opposition has dissolved the parliament, leaving her in charge for six months until a new constitution can be established. Facing arrest, Bakiyev, meanwhile, has fled the capital for yet another undisclosed location. All told, by day's end, at least 70 people were reported killed amidst a chain of events whose horizon remains hazy.
Aside from alarming TV pictures of empty store shelves in Bishkek, life feels little changed in my own corner of Kyrgyzstan. (The city where I'm training can't be named here for security reasons.) Peace Corps language lessons continued without interruption today, save for hurried conversations about politics over tea. It was hard, I must say, to concentrate on memorizing Kyrgyz prepositions with a revolution underway. The Tyiok family (a pseudonym) with whom I'm staying seems worried about last night's events, but by daybreak Ms. Tyiok had returned to her job at a hospital and the clerk at a grocery store where I buy crackers greeted four American visitors with her usual smile.