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Profile: Kurmanbek Bakiyev

When Kurmanbek Bakiyev took power in Kyrgyzstan in 2005, many hoped he would wipe out corruption and breathe life into the country's flagging economy.

Kurmanbek Bakiyev, pictured on 23 March 2010
Kurmanbek Bakiyev: Charged in absentia with organising mass killings

He swept to power after leading a series of street protests - known as the Tulip Revolution - which forced his predecessor, Askar Akayev, into exile.

But his time in office was characterised by political deadlock and spats with opposition parties.

His opponents said he became increasingly authoritarian and accused him of corruption. He won two elections, but observers said both failed to meet international standards.

Public discontent mounted, culminating in violent protests on 7 April 2010. More than 80 people died and hundreds were injured as troops fired into crowds.

As an interim government took control Mr Bakiyev fled south and then to Belarus.

Kyrgyzstan's new leaders have charged him in absentia with organising mass killings and say they want to put him on trial.

Regional governor

Mr Bakiyev had drawn most of his support from the south of the country, his family stronghold.

He was born in the village of Masadan - subsequently renamed Teyyit - in the province of Jalalabad on 1 August 1949.

He studied in the Polytechnic Institute of the Russian town of Kuybyshev, where he met his Russian wife, Tatyana Vasilyevna Bakiyeva.

Mr Bakiyev trained as an electrical engineer, and began his career at the Maslennikov plant in Kuybyshev, before joining the Soviet Army.

He returned to Jalalabad with his family in 1979, where he worked in a local plant.

His political career began in 1990, when he was elected as first secretary in the town council of Kok-Yangak in Jalalabad.

In 1992 he was promoted to become governor of Jalalabad, and in 1997 he was appointed as governor of the north-eastern Issyk-Kul region.

In 2001 he served as prime minister, but was forced to resign after a bloody crackdown on an opposition rally in south-western Aksy District in March 2002, in which five demonstrators died.

Flawed elections

Propelled into power by the protests of 2005, Mr Bakiyev promised to bring change to the Central Asian nation.

Protester on the streets of Bishkek on 24 March 2005
Five years ago huge street protests brought Mr Bakiyev to power

But optimism soon turned to disappointment. In 2007 there were several large-scale street protests against him in the capital, Bishkek.

He responded by holding a referendum on a new constitution, which he said would give more power to parliament.

The vote gave overwhelming support to his plans - although there were claims of ballot-box stuffing.

Mr Bakiyev installed the new constitution, dissolved parliament and called a snap election - announcing that he had formed his own party to contest the polls, Ak Zhol.

Ak Zhol then won every seat in parliament - the Ata Meken opposition party won 9.2% of the total vote but failed to achieve the required 0.5% in each of Kyrgyzstan's regions.

International observers described the elections as flawed - as they did the subsequent polls in 2009.

The Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said that the second poll, which saw Mr Bakiyev secure another landslide win, was marred by ballot-stuffing, vote-counting irregularities and media bias.

Three months later, Mr Bakiyev's prime minister resigned in protest at sweeping changes to government structures which he said were aimed at extending the president's grip on power.

The Kyrgyz leader faced rising discontent both from opposition activists and also from the wider public, who were angered by soaring utility bills.

Uprising

On 7 April a day of opposition protests erupted into violence in Bishkek and several other towns.

Angry crowds stormed government buildings, torched cars and looted stores. Troops were ordered to shoot protesters and at least 85 people died. Hundreds more were injured in the day of rioting.

Mr Bakiyev fled south to Jalalabad and attempted to rally support. But it soon became clear that most of his allies had deserted him.

As the interim government, under a former foreign minister, Roza Otunbayeva, worked to consolidate power, Mr Bakiyev flew to Kazakhstan.

From there he went to Belarus, where leader Alexander Lukashenko said he was welcome.

What happens to him now remains unclear. The Kyrgyz authorities have requested his extradition, seeking to put him on trial over the 7 April deaths.

Belarus may well refuse to surrender him - but it seems clear that apart from Mr Lukashenko, Kurmanbek Bakiyev has few friends left.



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