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Kyrgyzstan Regime Change Masterminded by West — Newspaper

MosNews | March 30 2005

The political uprising that led to the recent upheaval in Kyrgyzstan was prepared and financed by Western countries, the New York Times reports. The newspaper said that the U.S. NGO Freedom House played a crucial role in removing Askar Akayev from the president’s post.

In particular, Freedom House gave U.S. government grants to an opposition newspaper that was influential in making President Akayev and his family unpopular among the people. The newspaper was also printed on an U.S. government-financed printing press.

In addition to the United States, several European countries — Britain, the Netherlands and Norway among them — have helped underwrite programs to develop democracy and civil society in the country. The effort played a crucial role in preparing the ground for the popular uprising that swept opposition politicians to power.

“Of course, this infrastructure had an influence,” said one European election observer. “People now believe they have rights, and they were not scared because the repressive capacity of the system was weak.”

Among the hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign aid that arrived in Kyrgyzstan after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a large part was destined for building up civil society and democratic institutions.

Most of that money came from the United States, which maintains the largest bilateral pro-democracy program in Kyrgyzstan because of the Freedom Support Act, passed by Congress in 1992 to help the former Soviet republics in their economic and democratic transitions. The money earmarked for democracy programs in Kyrgyzstan totaled about $12 million last year.

Hundreds of thousands more filter into pro-democracy programs in the country from other U.S. government-financed institutions like the National Endowment for Democracy. That does not include the money for the Freedom House printing press or Kyrgyz-language service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a pro-democracy broadcaster.

“It would have been absolutely impossible for this to have happened without that help,” said Edil Baisolov, who leads a coalition of non-governmental organizations, referring to the uprising last week. Mr. Baisolov’s organization is financed by the United States government through the National Democratic Institute.

U.S. money helps finance civil society centers around the country where activists and citizens can meet, receive training, read independent newspapers and even watch CNN or surf the Internet. The N.D.I. alone operates 20 centers that provide news summaries in Russian, Kyrgyz and Uzbek.

The United States sponsors the American University in Kyrgyzstan, whose stated mission is, in part, to promote the development of civil society, and pays for exchange programs that send students and non-governmental organization leaders to the United States. Kyrgyzstan’s new prime minister, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, was one.

All of that money and manpower gave the coalescing Kyrgyz opposition financing and moral support in recent years, as well as the infrastructure that allowed it to communicate its ideas to the Kyrgyz people.

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