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Last Updated: Monday, 4 April, 2005, 10:15 GMT 11:15 UK
Profile: Askar Akayev
Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev delivers a speech to WW II veterans in Kyrgyz capital Bishkek 12 March 2005
Mr Akayev led Kyrgyzstan for 15 years
During the early years of Askar Akayev's rule, Western commentators hailed him as a bright hope for democracy in Central Asia.

They noted that the softly-spoken intellectual began pushing for privatisation and land reform shortly after he became leader of independent Kyrgyzstan in 1991.

He was also hailed as an advocate for an open and liberal atmosphere in the former Soviet republic.

But this optimism about Mr Akayev eventually waned and on 24 March 2005 he was ousted by protesters, who complained that his administration was mired by corruption and that recent parliamentary elections had been rigged.

Critics also accused him of suppressing the opposition and media.

Mr Akayev fled his government offices and sought refuge in Moscow.

Award-winning scientist

Askar Akayev was born on 10 November 1944 in the village of Kyzyl-Bayrak, northern Kyrgizia. His father was a farm worker.

He was educated in St Petersburg, and won awards for his scientific studies.

Mr Akayev entered the Kyrgyz Communist Party in 1986 as the head of the Scientific Department.

He became president of Kyrgyzstan in 1990, when it was still under Soviet rule, and was elected the country's leader by direct popular vote shortly after independence in 1991, and again in 1995. He has worked to ensure good relations with both the US and Russia, and both countries have opened military bases in Kyrgyzstan.

Mr Akayev was elected to a third five-year term in October 2000, but Western observers criticised the ballot for irregularities.

His critics' grievances were fuelled in February 2003 when Mr Akayev moved to expand presidential powers.

Critics also noted that his eldest son, Aydar, and eldest daughter, Bermet, won seats in this year's parliamentary election.

Mr Akayev's administration was also accused of suppressing the opposition.

Human Rights Watch said last August that it had been concerned for more than a year about the deterioration in civic freedoms in Kyrgyzstan and urged President Akayev to ensure activists and the opposition could operate without intimidation.

Mr Akayev, who is married with two sons and two daughters, is reportedly interested in classical music and painting.

Despite his good education, however, he did not shine in a language test in his native Kyrgyz which he was obliged to take before being re-elected in 2000.

Mr Akayev passed, but lost marks for spelling errors.

Reports say Mr Akayev has no intention of running for president again, but that he would like to return to his country and take up his academic career once more.


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