The relative wealth of neighbouring Kazakhstan is striking compared to its poor neighbour. Its border with Kyrgyzstan was closed following the violence.
euronews has spoken to Kazakhstan’s President Nazarbaev – in power since the end of the Soviet era – about the background to the current events.
“After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the independent republics each developed in their own different ways,” he said. “As for Kyrgyzstan, during all these years, the country’s leaders did not carry out basis economic reforms. This country doesn’t have many natural resources. It’s a mountainous country with little farmable land. There are only hydroelectric resources capable of making up 50 percent of their energy needs, but only a tenth of these resources are exploited. So people shouldn’t have been playing politics and putting up barricades, rather they should first feed the people and give them work.”
President Nazarbaev, who has been accused of suppressing dissent in his own country, may be concerned about a possible exodus from Kyrgyzstan, whose capital Bishkek lies just a few kilometres south of the Kazakh border.