He is seen as the flag-bearer of reforms in Kyrgyzstan. And now Almazbek Atambayev, prime minister of the strategically-important ex-Soviet republic, is poised to become its president.
With nearly all votes counted in Sunday’s election, the Moscow-backed leader has an outright majority, avoiding the need for a second round.
As to what is expected of him, Anatoly, a resident of the capital Bishkek, was clear – calling for more jobs and an end to inter-ethnic conflict. That is a reference, no doubt, to last year’s deadly clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbek ethnic communities.
As electoral officials gave Atambayev over 60 per cent of the vote, some of his rivals were crying foul. But despite several flaws, international observers said they were “cautiously optimistic” about the future of democracy in Kyrgyzstan.
Atambayev had been a favourite to win the ballot, the result of reforms put in place after President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted last year.