Page last updated at 23:47 GMT, Wednesday, 7 April 2010 00:47 UK

The day Kyrgyzstan's anger boiled over

Violence in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
The protests in Bishkek were echoed in other Kyrgyz cities

By Rayhan Demytrie
BBC News, Bishkek

Scores of people lost their lives. More than 400 were injured. This is the day that changed the course of history in this small, mountainous former Soviet state.

Five years ago Kyrgyzstan made headlines around the world when mass protests that became known as the Tulip Revolution brought to power a former opposition leader, Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

There is a popular image from those days that shows Mr Bakiyev marching with other opposition figures, including Roza Otunbayeva.

Now it is she who is heading an interim government of Kyrgyzstan.

It all began on Tuesday in the north-western town of Talas, where the arrest of an opposition figure triggered mass protests.


Thousands of demonstrators stormed a government building and imposed their own "people's governor". They demanded the resignation of Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

Late on Tuesday, riot police sent from the capital, Bishkek, took over the building. But not for very long.

In an unexpected turn of events the protesters re-took the building, by throwing stones and petrol bombs at the riot police.

Portraits of President Bakiyev were set on fire.

Later that day, the government announced the situation was under control. Many opposition leaders were detained.

Ready for action

April 7 was the date the opposition planned to have a nationwide rally. But no-one expected what the day would bring.

Protest in Talas, 6 April
The disturbances began in the city of Talas on Tuesday

Hundreds of people started gathering in front of the opposition headquarters in Bishkek.

Thousands gathered in other parts of the country. The people were ready for action.

Protesters in Bishkek broke through a police cordon and marched towards the main government building - the White House.

Several police cars were set on fire along the way.

As the protesters approached the White House they were met with a fusillade of stun grenades and live rounds.

Some were killed. On this rainy day, the puddles were coloured red with blood.

A body of one young protester was lying on a marbled pavement. Angry crowds gathered next to it.

"I was walking past with my friend and he was shot in the back," one distraught young man said.

Many more were shot dead or injured.

'Same mistakes'

Events were moving fast in Kyrgyzstan. The protesters stormed the national TV and radio company. They moved on to police headquarters, the general prosecutor's office and the parliament building.

A state of national emergency was declared by President Bakiyev and curfews imposed in the cities of Bishkek, Talas and Naryn.

Later on Wednesday, opposition leaders arrested the day before were released. They set up an interim government, led by Roza Otunbayeva.

In a comment to a Russian TV channel Ms Otunbayeva said the situation in the country remained tense and difficult.

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin also commented on the Kyrgyz events - he said President Bakiyev had made the same mistakes as his predecessor when he was ousted in that popular uprising, five years ago.

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