How Russia Outmaneuvered America

The fascinating power politics behind an overlooked coup in Central Asia

This tiny Central Asian state had witnessed street protests before. Discontent and restlessness were widespread: The president had promised political freedom, democratic reform and transparency—but he turned out to be even more despotic and corrupt than the man he replaced in a revolution five years earlier. Public demonstrations against his regime, however, had always fizzled.

This time was different. Very different. Within a blur of 24 hours, Kyrgyzstan was transformed. On April 7, the capital erupted in bloody riots, the president fled, the deputy prime minister was taken hostage, the interior minister was killed, and the government fell. A new chief executive assumed power and quickly appointed defense, finance and interior ministers. Within days, it appeared the nation’s security services were firmly under the control of the new interim government.

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