Financing democratic change in Kyrgyzstan

Following on Alex Cooley’s editorial, here’s a report on how the West’s support for opposition newspapers helped in the downfall of Akayev.

“Shortly before Kyrgyzstan’s recent parliamentary elections, an opposition newspaper ran photographs of a palatial home under construction for the country’s deeply unpopular president, Askar Akayev, helping set off widespread outrage and a popular revolt in this poor Central Asian country.

The newspaper was the recipient of United States government grants and was printed on an American government-financed printing press operated by Freedom House, an American organization that describes itself as ‘a clear voice for democracy and freedom around the world.’

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 this country. The effort played a crucial role in preparing the ground for the popular uprising that swept opposition politicians to power.”