Washington Post cites Russian role in Kyrgyzstan unrest


The Washington Post reports that “Kremlin-friendly television stations and newspapers” and Russian economic sanctions played a key role in the toppling of Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

Though Bakiyev fled the country on April 7, he has refused to resign his post.

Kyrgyzstan provides a key air base to U.S. forces engaged in Afghanistan. Allegations of corruption in supplying the base by officials figured in the toppling of both the previous government and that of Bakiyev, according to the New York Times.

The effort to topple Bakiyev, the Post reported, “…was a sharp departure from Russia’s traditional support for autocratic leaders in its neighborhood. It paid off quickly and dramatically, and it appears to have delivered the Kremlin a rare foreign policy victory.”

On August 8, 2008, Russia invaded Georgia, and successfully created two new ethnic enclaves, the Republic of South Ossetia and the Republic of Abhkazia.

Georgia sought closer ties with the West, including NATO membership, at the time it was invaded.

Almost a year after the invasion, the governments of the Republic of South Ossetia
and the Republic of Abkhazia hired Saylor Company LLC to provide public relations support in Washington, according to filings made under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. Saylor’s firm promised both clients that he would “explain Georgia’s long history of aggression” against the people of each conclave and “underscore the importance of maintaining a close relationship with Russia, including the need for a Russian military presence” within each regions borders.

Saylor Company has mostly contacted reporters, according to its most recent FARA filing. The firm also passed along a letter from Abkhazia’s minister of foreign affairs, Sergei Shamba, inviting Sen. Jeanne Sheehan, D-N.H., Sen. James DeMint, R-S.C.–respectively, the chair and ranking member of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs–to send any member of or staffer to Abkhazia for a fact finding mission. The letter responded to an Aug. 4, 2009 hearing on the Georgia conflict.

Kyrgyzstan is currently not represented by Washington lobbyists, according to FARA filings.