Early this week Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili sent a formal letter to Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev calling upon him to be more tolerant toward the opposition’s demands and offered to personally mediate in negotiations with the opposition forces. Georgian emissaries have reportedly worked with all their might to share with the Kyrgyz opposition their experience with the successful November 2003 Rose Revolution in Georgia.
The information about Saakashvili’s letter to Akayev was released by Saakashvili’s spokesperson, Gela Charkviani, on March 22. Describing the situation in Kyrgyzstan, Charkviani did not conceal the fact that the Kyrgyz opposition identified with the Georgian pattern. “By the way, their opposition has frequently mentioned Georgia and Georgia’s example,” he said.
The statement from Saakashvili’s press office came on the heels of media speculation about possible clandestine Georgian support for the anti-Akayev opposition.
On March 22, the Georgian daily newspaper Resonance, drawing on accounts from Kyrgyz opposition newspapers, reported that three Georgian parliamentarians, once active engineers of Georgia’s Rose Revolution, had paid an unofficial visit to Kyrgyzstan to support the attempted “Tulip Revolution” there. These members of parliament are Givi Targamadze, chair of parliament’s committee for defense and security; Kakha Getsadze, a delegate from the ruling United National Movement Party’s faction, and Temur Nergadze, a legislator from the Republican Party.
Also drawing from the Kyrgyz press, Resonance cites the Georgian parliamentarians as commenting that the events in Osh and Jalalabad bear a strong resemblance to the events in Georgia that led to the removal of long-time leader Eduard Shevaradnze. Both popular protests occurred after disputed parliamentary elections. The Kyrgyz press quotes one of the Georgian MPs as saying, “Currently Kyrgyzstan has a typical pre-revolutionary situation.” If the Kyrgyz media reports were accurate — Georgian officials have not commented yet on the issue — the Georgian envoys arrived in Kyrgyzstan several days before Saakashvili issued his letter. While Georgian officials remained tight-lipped about the Georgian parliamentarians’ expedition to Kyrgyzstan, Abdil Segizbayev, President Akayev’s spokesman, turned down Saakashvili’s proposal and charged that, in his words, “Some of the Georgian parliamentarians” were inciting disorders in the southern regions of the country, RIA-Novosti reported on March 23. Segizbayev said that opposition groups had received special training.
Targamadze, who was on the frontlines of the Rose Revolution, has a background from outside the government. He was a godfather to the youth movement Kmara (Enough), which was styled on the pattern of the analogous Serbian organization Otpor. After special training from Otpor representatives, Kmara played an extremely important role in the success of the Rose Revolution.
During last year’s Orange Revolution in Ukraine, Targamadze and several Georgian parliamentarians and, reportedly, Kmara activists visited Kyiv and shared their knowledge and experience with civil disobedience techniques with local opposition groups and the newly created Ukrainian youth movement Pora. The Ukrainian movement even sent its representatives to Tbilisi to learn more from Kmara members. In one of his televised interviews in Ukraine, Targamadze, according the local media speculations, gave Viktor Yushchenko’s supporters specific instructions about bloodless methods to seize strategically important buildings and other tips from their experiences.
Representatives of Kmara have also expressed their readiness to provide assistance to the Moldovan opposition, if asked. However, Moldova has so far avoided the “Grape Revolution,” as it supposedly was to be dubbed.
Kyrgyzstan State Secretary Osmonakun Ibraimov indirectly confirmed the presence and influence of the Georgian advisors in the Tulip Revolution when he stated that the Kyrgyz opposition “has the scenario from events in Tbilisi at hand.”
On Thursday March 24, when opposition forces finally captured the center of government in Bishkek, Targamadze appeared live on Georgia’s Rustavi-2 television channel, broadcasting from a television studio in Bishkek. He gave an eyewitness account of the unfolding Kyrgyz revolution and gave additional advice to Kyrgyz opposition leaders on how best to cope with the mass looting that has swept the capital. “In the last year and a half, this is the third revolution for Givi Targamadze, after Tbilisi and Kyiv,” Rustavi-2 added.
Although Kyrgyzstan’s Tulip Revolution has already turned out to be far more violent than similar uprisings in Georgia and Ukraine, the scenarios have a striking similarity. They suggest the presence of a strong network of human, material, and financial resources in the post-Soviet space, which is able to fight successfully with the authoritarian and mostly Russia-leaning regimes.
(Resonance, Rustavi-2 TV, Ekho Moskvy, Civil Georgia, Itar-Tass, Izvestia.ru, March 22-23)