Chaos in Kyrgyzstan; BlueOregonian in the midst

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Many of you may know Matt Blevins. He's been a regular reader and commenter here at BlueOregon -- and was, until recently, a lobbyist for the Oregon Environmental Council. He was featured here at BlueOregon twice last year - Pesticide Politics and Tough Summer Job.

Well, Matt is now working for democracy in Kyrgyzstan. That's a landlocked Central Asian country (wikipedia) that's recovering from a revolution last year.

Matt's been sending updates from the frontlines of democracy, and asked me to post them once in a while. Here's what he wrote last night, reassuring us that he's OK:

While things remain turbulent in Kyrgyzstan, the fears of another revolution around the anniversary of last year’s revolution have subsided. The current president, Bakiev, continues to consolidate power but is unable or unwilling to deal with the country’s problems, particularly corruption. This has come to a head around the potential election of a reputed gangster from Balykchy, a town about 2 hours east of Bishkek on the shore of Issyk-Kul, the largest lake in the country. The gangster, Rysbek Atmatbaev, is the brother of a Member of Parliament (MP) who was killed last year. Rysbek has been on the run and out of the country for a number of years, but has returned to the country after he was acquitted in the murder of a policeman and two rivals due to non-cooperation of witnesses.

Because he was out of the country for most of the last 5 years and because the case is being appealed, he should not be eligible to run for office, although he was allowed. The Coalition, the leading democracy advocacy group in the country and the main group I work with, had appealed his candidacy and decided to boycott the April 9 elections because he was allowed to run. While Rysbek won his election, the Coalition has pushed the Election Commission to throw out the results.

This evening, Edil Baisolov, the President of the Coalition, was shot coming out of his office. He was hit in the head but his injuries were not life-threatening. He and I had recently met to discuss some important issues.

Makes me wonder how long they had been waiting to take a shot at him and if I had ever been to the right or left of the crosshairs.

A little too close for comfort.

It has clearly reminded me that the work we do here matters and is for real. And while many of our fights at home are important, none of us risk our lives trying to do them. It’s different here.

Hang in there, Matt.

  • buckfush (unverified)

    [Long, rambling off-topic comment about the Republican Party deleted. -Editor.]

  • Varner (unverified)

    As a close friend of Matt's I'd like to offer a friendly amendment that the work we do here also matters. Even if we aren't getting shot at.

    And the position we are in today in terms of having our freedom to have forums like BlueOregon is due to many folks were shot at.

  • Publius (unverified)
    <h2>Yes, Varner, you are still important.</h2>

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