Faded Tulips

Faded Tulips

Kyrgyzstan

A journey through Kyrgyzstan's fragile post soviet democracy.

"I remember seeing images of Kyrgyzstan for the first time on television, in March 2005. There were scenes of excited Asian-looking men rushing toward an imposing Soviet style administration building. They entered the building, vandalizing, even pillaging, all they found. Then, on the roof, a scene of men proudly brandishing a flag. This event was called the “Tulip Revolution”. One could read in the press that the Kyrgyz people, motivated by social injustice, had just overthrown the authoritarian and corrupt regime of President Askar Akayev and had replaced him with Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

It was a few years later, when the little country, no longer in the limelight, had been forgotten, that I visited Kyrgyzstan for the first time. Aided by a grant for young photographer, I set out to discover what the Tulip “Revolution”, which was supposed to lead to a democratic transition in the country according to many western medias, had really accomplished. This so-called revolution seemed to have been no more than a power grab. The elections were rigged; the media censured, perhaps even more than previously; political opponents were arrested. Kyrgyzstan was considered one of the 15 most corrupt countries in the world. Today one speaks of the Tulip Revolution as a coup d’état disguised as a popular revolution.

I continued to visit the country in the course of several trips. I was confronted by the growing instability which would lead, eventually, to the bloody riots of April 2010. It was a new revolution, perhaps a bit more authentic this time. The nepotistic Bakyiev was overthrown in his turn and found asylum in Belorussia, as had Akayev five years earlier. There followed a period of great unrest during which Osh, the major city in South, was the scene of ethnic anti-Uzbek pogroms.

Some where saying that what the young country was going through wass still the painful apprenticeship of independence."