BISHKEK -- The Ashar (Goodwill) political movement marked the 20th anniversary of Kyrgyzstan's first anti-Soviet protests in Bishkek today, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.
On January 25-26, 1990, many thousands of members of the Ashar movement and their supporters gathered on Ala-Too Square in Bishkek (then called Frunze) to demand more housing and jobs for ethnic Kyrgyz living in the capital, increasing the role of the Kyrgyz language in the republic, and ending the persecution of leaders of the their movement.
The Ashar movement was established in 1989 and in one year became very popular and politically influential in the Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan. Its two-day mass demonstration 20 years ago was the first anticommunist action in post-perestroika Kyrgyzstan.
Rakiya Jusupova, a veteran member of Ashar, told RFE/RL that the most important achievement of the protest was the fact that Kyrgyz citizens could for the first time express their feelings publicly and realized that they could make a difference in society.