Seeking Israelis Trapped in Kyrgyzstan
The State of Israel is urging all citizens in the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan to contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, so the government can provide swift evacuation in the wake of the deadly revolutionary overthrow.
Israel Broadcasting Authority's Mabat news program reported Wednesday night that approximately 20 Israelis are believed to be in Kyrgyzstan, and must make contact with the Foreign Ministry in order to be rescued.
There are 1500 Jews in the country of 5.5 million, as well as a synagogue and Chabad house in the capital, Bishkek. There is no word as yet on their situation, although in March, when unrest began at Purim time, Kyrgistan's Chief Rabbi Arieh Reichman, said that so far the Jewish community is being left alone and he prays that this will continue to be the case. At the time, Dr. Boris Shapiro, head of the secular Jewish community, said that he expects many of the Jews to decide to leave.
There are over 80 ethnic communities in the overwhelmingly Muslim country, which was the target of cross border raids by Islamic guerrillas in the past.
There is no Israeli Consulate in Kyrgistan but Israel has an embassy in neighboring Uzbekistan. The embassy can be reached at: (99871)12-05-808/9/10/11.
The opposition reported over 100 people have been reported killed as violent anti-government protests turned deadly in the Central Asian country sandwiched between Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and China. Sporadic gunfire and looting continued through the night and many buildings are ablaze.
Reports as to the breadth and scope of the revolt – and related casualties – are pouring in as the ultimate tallies and aftermath remain to be seen. However, it appears that the majority of the deaths have been caused by police firing on protestors.
What began as post election unrest in March after the opposition garnered few seats and continued to the commandeering of a government office in one Krgyz city on April 6 has turned into a larger, bloodier revolution in the capital city of Bishkek.
According to the Associated Press, opposition leader Temir Seriyev says the prime minister and the rest of the government have submitted to the coup and resigned. Opposition head, Rosa Otunbayeva, claims she has taken over the government and will call for elections.
Additional reports said the internal security headquarters and state television channel were seized by protestors, and that the Secretary of the Interior was beaten to death at their hands.
Protests began following a large tax hike, heavier control on the media, and accusations of corruption and nepotism against once-popular President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, elected five years ago after a coup. However, Britain's The Guardian newspaper suggests Russia has also become displeased with Bakiyev's regime, which was pro-American. Bishkek is the home of the U.S. military's Transit Center at Manas, which is an essential transit base for U.S. soldiers and equipment deployed to and from Afghanistan.
In February 2009, Bakiyev announced that the base would be closed, due to public pressure. Immediately afterward, Russia agreed to provide $2 billion in loans to Kyrgyzstan, as well as $150 million in financial aid. Then, in June 2009, a new deal almost quadrupling the U.S. payment for the facilities and providing another $117 million to the Kyrgyz government resulted in the cancellation of the eviction effort. General Petraeus visited the area last month.
The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the uprising.