Peace Corps Kyrgyzstan

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Those Darn Hypnotists! From the Daily Times - Site Edition

Daily Times - Site Edition: "Revolution blamed on hypnotist
A hypnotist has been blamed for starting a violent revolution in Kyrgyzstan. Dr Jenishbek Nasaraliev put up posters in the capital Bishkek with the words�Daddy, don�t drink� to drum up business for his clinic.

But government officials feared they were a reference to President Askar Akayev�s alleged alcohol problem and had them removed. In protest thousands took to the streets accusing the government of censorship, and the violent clashes that ensued led to the collapse of the government.

Some Russian media even accused Dr Nasaraliev of hypnotising the masses into staging the violent revolt that has plunged the region into chaos. ananova"

My Co-workers at a televised Press Conference earlier this year. Backrow (left to right): Aygul, Erkin, Ulugbek: Front row: Jenish, Idris, Akjol, Nurlan.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Digesting News: Kyrgyzstasis:

Nathan Hamm at pointed out that I was mentioned in the Columbia Journalism Review. Looks like junk food has gotten me in trouble again. I've downloaded over 80 pages of news and hope to scan through and scour over the digital pulp over the next few days. Currently, my co-workers and I are busy writing a "concept paper", which, if realized, would form an alliance between Osh's three law schools, the local courts (including some civic minded judges), the American Bar Association and the Eurasia Foundation. Unfortunately, time is of the essence so my energy and attention has shifted from post-revolution politics to "how can we sustain our organization?".

Thanks to all of you have contributed articles via email. If you see something interesting--please keep it coming.

Also, if anyone knows any specific sources of funding--please drop me a line.


Brief information on Human Rights and Democracy Center

Our Mission: Public Foundation “Human Rights and Democracy Center” (HRDC) was established with the purpose of protecting human rights and freedoms, developing civil society and raising the social awareness of the population. HRDC achieves these objectives by supporting civic action initiatives, providing free legal and social assistance, developing and promoting regional and international cooperation and implementing educational programs in the Kyrgyz Republic.

Target Group: Geographically, HRDC targets the population of Southern Kyrgyzstan’s three provinces (or oblasts). In particular the target group consists of students from the law and pedagogical faculties of Osh city who need to raise their level of professionalism and experience; secondary school students who need to increase their civic awareness; teachers who desire to improve their teaching methodology regarding law and justice in the Kyrgyz Republic; and physicians and teachers interested in increasing the public’s awareness of electoral law and Human Rights. HRDC also works with individuals from all facets of the judicial and political systems (including judges, members of parliament, public prosecutors, lawyers, local leaders, NGOs and activists) to promote justice by ensuring that knowledge, transparency and openness predominate the systems.

History: Established on March 26, 1998 by young professors, law school students and civil society activists, HRDC began implementing program activities with the financial support of the “Soros-Kyrgyzstan” Foundation and Osh State University. On May 11, 2000 HRDC became a legal entity in accordance with Kyrgyzstan’s legislation involving non-commercial entities. In addition to the headquarters in Osh, HRDC has branch offices in Batken and Jalalabat provinces in Southern Kyrgyzstan. At present, HRDС has 12 full time working staff members (9 of whom are licensed advocates) and 10 volunteers.

Current Activities: HRDC currently runs three projects: (1) Student Legal Clinic in Osh; (2) Free Legal Consultations for Labor Migrants; and (3) Electoral Law and Proceedings, in which HRDC conducts trainings for political parties, NGO representatives, judges, attorneys, police and prosecutors’ staff.

The clinical educational program is one of HRDC’s main directions. This program has three continuing objectives. First, the clinics seek to imbue law students with professionalism, an ethical foundation and practical skills. Second, the clinic provides free legal aid to the indigent population in the region. Third, the Street Law Clinic, increases school children’s awareness of law and society

The Legal Clinic now specializes in four areas: “Criminal Law”, “Civil Law”, “Street Law” and “Human Rights and International Law”. Clinic trainings are conducted in Russian and Kyrgyz languages. Approximately 70 students from three law schools in Osh study in the Clinic. Students, under strict supervision of HRDC’s lawyers, accept clients, provide legal advice and representation in the court, and conduct lessons in the secondary schools. Since beginning in 2001, HRDC’s Legal Clinic has provided legal services to more than 790 clients with criminal and civil law issues.

For more in-depth information regarding past and present programs and HRDC’s organizational structure, please visit our website at (in Russian Language), or feel free to contact us directly by email or telephone.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Larry Tweed: Back to work.

Monday was my first day back to work at the office. It was great to see everyone again. Everything is back to normal here in Osh. Though, we wait daily to hear of new developments in the Bishkek power vacuum. Friction between Bakiev and Tekebaev...old parliamnet new parliament June 26th presidential elections no elections.... There's still a lot at stake, I just hope leaders remember that ultimately the power is vested in the people--Temporally, this should be fairly accessible to the memory banks.

Erkin, my friend and counterpart has finally returned to Osh (he was stuck in Bishkek for sometime after returning from Poland--he was in Bishkek the day they stormed the White House). Right now all he's doing is talking about McDonalds, KFC, and PizzaHut and I'm sitting here transfixed by his description of deep dishes, cheeseburgers and chicken legs...drooling on my keyboard.


Friday, March 25, 2005

Osh, Kyrgyzstan: Post-Revolution: Larry Tweed

The people of Osh are planning a celebration to support the turn-over of power, outside their southern White House today (Saturday). Sounds like it's going to be a big party--of course, we are still holed up. My friend in Bishkek reported hearing gunshots last night and several large crowds of people moving about.

This sounds a bit ominous, but he was also told by a friend of his who works for Kyrgyz security forces to "stock up on water." Apparently indicating that there might be some problem with the water or that it might be in short supply until things calm down. Fact and fiction are oft confused for one another.

Other than this, no real news. While some think Kylov (or Kulov) is tough nut to crack, many others have praised the actions he has taken. Yesterday, I was told he threatened to fire any policemen who does not show up to work today. I reported that Tsum had been looted. This was incorrect. Dordoy Plaza and Beta stores were destroyed, however, Kylov stepped in and saved Tsum--Tsum is now in its 31st year of operation and so, it's a little ironic today that this blocky monstrosity of the soviet-era now stands as a pillar of capitalism in capital of Kyrgyzstan.

We ate rotisserie chicken last night and pasta. Then the "boys" played cards while gals sipped wine and watched movies. So, for anyone out there that thought we were holed up in a cave somewhere-we're actually living high on the hog...well sort of. I slept on the kitchen floor for the third night in row--but James Hart's cockroaches ("my friends" as he likes to call them) kept me company, reminding me that I wasn't alone.

Peace Corps is simply waiting to see what will happen-so this phase may take a few more days. If things remain calm, I'm fairly confident we'll resume our pre-revolutionary lives.

That's the word from Central Asia's "Island of Democracy" as Kyrgyzstan was proclaimed to be throught the 1990's.

Take care,

larry tweed

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Kyrgyzstan Revolution: Morning After

The latest from my source in Bishkek is that widespread looting has taken place. This does not surprise me, though I am very sad to see this kind of "hooligianism--an often used Russian term) taking place. Reportedly Tsum and the Beta stores were looted (for those who've never been in Kyrgyzstan--these stores are quite upscale--expat havens when you need dash of tobasco to go with the taco shells you just bought) as well as many others. My friend texted me from his cell phone stating he was almost out of minutes (on his phone) and was concerned that he wouldn't be able to buy more. He can still receive calls from me, however.

Continued looting and lawlessness could quickly damage the reputation of the opposition if order is not restored soon. Apparently, the old parliament (the one in place prior to the elections on February 27th) will be re-instated and an interim government established. Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan apparently ruled that the elections were null and void. These next days will be very telling for the entire future of Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyz Ambassador to the US has reportedly stated that Akaev has not resigned, but is in a "Safe Place".

For more information, please check out --they've done an excellent job of compiling news sources and were apparently quoted in Slate (good job guys!).

Osh continues to remain calm. Everyone is talking about the revolution, but stores are open and people are out. Police are working again in full force--randomly stopping cars for small bribes--strange to say, but that was almost reassuring to hear that things were back to normal. Let's hope the future Democratic Kyrgyzstan (whatever form it takes) will be more representative the people and work toward eliminating the systemic corruption that's held this potentially prosperous nation in developmental paralysis.

I am fine, cooked homefries and eggs for my friends this morning (used some Cajun seasoning to spice'em up--mmm mmm good). We're stocked up on food and fortunately, I received a package the other day from my Grandma Throm (thanks Grandma and Keith) with lots of chocolate goodies--that was a huge hit!!!). Haven't heard anything new from peace corps--other than, we are playing the waiting game. This is smart--as nobody knows what's going to happen next. Again, PC is surely a bureaucracy and information may not flow as freely as we'd like, but so far I think they are doing a great job handling an unprecedented situation. We feel safe and we are anxious to resume our lives here in Kyrgyzstan.

Take care,

Larry Tweed

Bishkek Volunteers SAFE: President Akaev Resigned?

All volunteers are safe. For those of you trying to contact loved ones here, cell phones are jammed while everyone is calling each other. Also, some volunteers have been moved out of the cities (e.g. Jalabad) and may not have coverage for a while.

My friend in Bishkek reports that there has been some looting in Bishkek. We've been watching TV and the opposition has been addressing the nation and asking for peace and calm. They are appearing on KTR (I believe this is the station formerly run by Akaev's family members (son-in-law). Their are reports that Akaev has resigned--these are unconfirmed as of yet.

Oppostion supposedly will convene tomorrow to elect a new parliament and establish leadership.


Larry Tweed

New Power in Kyrgyzstan! Revolution Happens. Larry Tweed and Volunteers SAFE

I just got word about an hour ago (3:30 PM Kyrgyz time) that protestors stormed the White House in the Kyrgyz Capital of Bishkek. My Expat Anthropologist friend was on the scene and text messaged me and called me as events unfolded. He called from the the doorway of the White House this is pretty reliable. He has also heard that Akaev's motorcade was seen leaving Bishkek. If this is true, then a Revolution has taken place. I have heard that Bishkek already appears calm. Who will be in power? This is the big question for the revolutionaries to answer. Also, is it completely over for Akaev? I sense the answer is a resounding YES. What do the people really think about this revolution?

Side Note: I have heard that Roza Otunbaeva did a great job of uniting the opposition parties to accomplish this...You can bet she'll continue to be a player.

Peace Corps decided not move us yet. A wise choice as Osh is calm and everything is up in the air. We are safe though a little stir crazy. AMAZING time to be here. I know friends and family are worried. Please understand that everything you may be viewing is from the lens of the media. We are OK and look forward to resuming our work as soon as Peace Corps deems it safe. They are doing a good job (though the information in scarce). Peace Corps staff visited all of us in the South to make sure we are ok.

I'm tired. Played poker with volunteers last night until 6:00 AM. I won 200 som, which is about 5 dollars or 10 lunches, depending on who you talk to. Feeling good though. Very good.

Just want to say to friends and family that I love you and am having a great time here in Kyrgyzstan. I will update you when I can. It's OK to be worried, but please don't panic--we're not.

Take care folks,

Love Larry

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Peace Corps Vigilant: Kyrgyzstan

Southern Kyrgyzstan Peace Corps Volunteers have moved to Phase II on the preparedness continuum and the rest of the volunteers in Kyrgyzstan are being put on "Standfast" or Phase I. Now, before anyone gets too concerned over this, please remember that these are actually good things. Several of us in the South had been discussing what PC would do next and anticipated this move (I'd already packed a bag, bottled extra water and tracked down the few remaining bags of my father's famous beef jerky for snack food).

"Phase II" means Peace Corps wants to keep a close eye on us and keep us ready in case we need to be moved. This means they are doing their job, monitoring the situation and taking precautions to secure our safety. Today, I feel very safe. There was a big town meeting yesterday afternoon in Osh. The opposition's spokeman said that anyone who breaks the law by looting, destroying property etc. is not part of the opposition--that these will be viewed as criminal acts against the city of Osh and that actions will be taken against said individuals. The police chief here is said to have been restored to his post and will work with the opposition. The TV station, Osh 3000--was not over-run by protestors (apparently, the director of the station negotiated with demonstrators and promised to televise what was happening down here--which is some of the only media we are getting in the south regarding the protests). The airport is operating flights in and out of the city (I know because my expat friend left on one this morning).

All of that said, nobody knows what will happen. There have been anti-opposition (viz. Pro-Akaev) protests in Bishkek. However, tomorrow (Thursday, March 24) the opposition plans on attempting to rally the people in calling for Akaev's resignation. Roza Otunbaeva (former ambassador to the UK) sounds steadfast in her calls for Akaev to step down. Last night, the president declared on national TV that he would not step down and that the oppositions "illegal" activities in the south, would not go unpunished. What does this mean? Nobody knows.

If anyone has any insights or fresh information please drop me an email or click on the comment link below.

I don't know when I will get to update folks again. "Consolidation" also means that we likely won't have access to the internet. Any chance I get, I will try and email.

Note: the term "Phase II" is of my own construction. Safety first.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Kyrgyzstan Revolution: Kyrgyz Politics

A variety of news sources indicate that opposition leaders are making their way to Bishkek to rally protestors in the capital. As I mentioned in my earlier blog (see below), leadership and government apparatuses have more to lose up north and could offer more resistance. Osh, was eerily quiet today. People are edgy. Apparently, there was a large meeting scheduled to take place at the main square in Osh this afternoon. I, for one, have remained mostly indoors...I'll be pouring over the news articles and blogs i've cut-and-pasted all night and hope to have a more thorough and comprehensive blog tomorrow. Airport is still closed. Police and Army officials are no where to be seen.


Monday, March 21, 2005

Kyrgyzstan Revolution: Larry Tweed Peace Corps

Currently, every Peace Corps Volunteer in Kyrgyzstan is safe. I want to reassure family and friends, we remain abreast of the situation, avoid crowds, demonstrations, and stay in touch with one another through cell phone text messages, emails, and telephones. For those volunteers located in remote villages, Peace Corps can, will, and does actually send PC personnel or messengers to relay information. Moreover, in times of political crisis, those who are located in remote villages are almost universally known by the villagers and respected amongst their colleagues, friends, and neighbors. In short, they are safe.

We are on "Regional Standfast". Standfast is the initial alert given by Peace Corps when political tensions or natural disasters take place. We are to remain at our sites and use discretion when venturing outside our homes. We are a smart group of volunteers. We are alert. We have many local friends. Nuff-said.

Now, the juicy stuff. Yesterday was a holiday in Kyrgyzstan. One of the largest holidays of the year, Nooruz. You can imagine the contrast of parents promenading their rosy cheeked children through Osh’s central park, only to bump into club wielding rioters ready for a revolution.

Malatov cocktails were thrown. Buildings were taken over. Police and Military personnel dropped their batons, their shields and even their helmets in retreat. A Niva (miniature Russian SUV) rolled around Osh for several hours with roof mounted loud speakers blaring out something to the effect of, “the opposition has taken over the city and set up a new government.”

Leaders of Opposition parties from all over Kyrgyzstan are convening in Bishkek today, Tuesday, March 22nd.

As far as I can tell, there were no deaths in Osh, though I did hear that there were approximately 30 injuries—again, this is not fact just rumor at this point. Reports from Jalalabad remain mixed. Some say 4 policemen were killed. Some say that there were no fatalities. Russian and Turkish news sources seem to be unreliable…so choose your sources carefully.

Nobody knows how to handle what is happening in Kyrgyzstan and fear lays awake in the bed of the unknown. Questions: How will Akayev handle the political unrest? In the wake of Aksyy a few years ago—Akayev appears afraid to assert an iron fist. Yet his indecision, also makes him and his government appear weak during a time that calls for decisive action. Akayev has made very few appearances and spoken very few words to his country’s men and women.

One intelligent gentlemen whom I know and respect, believes that Akayev will likely resign before realizing his full term (presidential elections will be held on October 27th). But who would fill his shoes?

One news source says the opposition is calling for Akayev’s resignation and for the old parliament to stay in power until new elections can be held.

Still others believe that Russia, which is bound by a security treaty with Kyrgyzstan, may step in an “implement order”. Still others think that Akayev will send troops down from the north (who would be less sympathetic and less likely to lay down their arms in retreat).

Still others think that the revolution, will eventually make it’s way north, to Bishkek and that if does, their will be greater strife. Politicians and Policemen in the north have much more to lose in the event of a successful revolution and turn-over of power.

Other ideas…stasis, at least temporarily. New opposition governments in the south could face any number of difficulties…eg. No funding from the north. Or, lack of knowledge of administrative necessities. Who knows? Opposition parties, now united, would likely bump heads over new power configurations.

More than likely a combination of these will take place in some form or another—which basically means, nobody knows what is going to happen. We will wait and see.

Communication is intermittent during times of unrest. For those worrying, this can be very frustrating. I will try and blog as often as I can. My ears are connected to friends all over the country.

Take care,

Larry Tweed

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Here's an interesting Typo concerning Elections in KG: "The CIA Observers acknowledged the elections free"

The headline should read "The CIS Observers..."--but CIA sounds a lot better doesn't it? Click here to read the article:KYRGYZINFO: "The CIA Observers acknowledged the elections free"

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Cool Hand Larry says, "Nobody can eat 50 [dozen] eggs!"

Larry wielding a mace.

Fish heads, fish heads, rolly polly fish them up, Yum!

Larry & Solena at wedding ceremony in Mundooz Resaurant, Osh, Kyrgyzstan.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Solena & Larry at market