A Culture of Protests: The Government Overthrow in the Kyrgyz Republic in 2010

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This paper analyzes the process and dynamics of the protests in the Kyrgyz Republic that led to the April 7, 2010 overthrow of the government of President Kurmanbek Bakiev. The paper argues that the government overthrow was not a sudden event; rather it was a continuation of a long succession of protests and violence that had been occurring for years. The Kyrgyz Republic has an endemic problem of solving all political and social problems through street protests and violence. The long-term trend is worrisome, as street protests are likely to continue into the future unless the government and the opposition find a way to address legitimate grievances through democratic institutions. This paper examines the history of Kyrgyz protests by comparing the protests in 2002, the government overthrow in 2005, and the events immediately prior to the 2010 collapse of the government. It suggests that the framework for the protests was similar in all three cases and that government attacks on local political entrepreneurs motivated the public to respond. The ineffective use of government force that followed incensed, but did not overwhelm, the protesters.