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Reporter's Notebook: The People Bakiev Left Behind

  • Bruce Pannier

Bakiev's supporters gather to hear him speak on April 13 - two days before he fled the country.

Bakiev's supporters gather to hear him speak on April 13 - two days before he fled the country.

JALAL-ABAD, Kyrgyzstan -- Deposed Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev hastily departed his native region on April 15, leaving behind a hand-scrawled letter of resignation. By the next morning, it was clear in Jalal-Abad that he left behind lots of problems for area residents.

Banners had already been hung from the iron gates of the provincial administration building reading, "Bakiev supporters are enemies of the people." Others urged Jalal-Abad residents to "kill" former officials in the Bakiev government and supporters of the ex-president still in the area.

When Bakiev hastily left for Kazakhstan on the night of April 15, he left behind more than 1,000 people who for a week had passionately defended him in speeches at public rallies in his home town of Teyit and in Jalal-Abad.

A visit to Teyit early on April 16 revealed that the same young men who had blocked the road to the Bakiev residence in Teyit were still manning the roadblock. They seemed intent on continuing to guard the members of Bakiev's family who were still here.

That may not be possible for too much longer. The banners hanging outside the provincial administration building remained there all morning, and no one inside the building seemed anxious to come out and remove them.

Small wonder, given what people were saying on the central square across the street from the administration building. The prevailing view is that the provincial officials were responsible for negotiating the deal that let Bakiev escape the country, and justice.

No matter that the officials they were talking about were only appointed the morning of the same day Bakiev was taken out of the country on a Kazakh military plane.

That's the sort of logic that prevails in Jalal-Abad now.

Strangely, and perhaps bravely, some supporters of the former defense minister, Bakytbek Kalyev, were passing out leaflets reminding people of Kalyev's service as a soldier of the Soviet Army in Afghanistan, and more recently for Kyrgyzstan.

Kalyev was with Bakiev in Teyit, but was not allowed to board the plane that ferried Bakiev out of the country. The former defense minister was immediately arrested after the plane took off.

The Ekobank, just off Jalal-Abad's central square, was open on April 16 for only the second time this week because of the demonstrations.

It was a small sign that things in Jalal-Abad are beginning to return to normal. But the deep divisions created by Bakiev's brief exile here will take much longer to mend.