World Tour – Turmoil in Kyrgyzstan and Belarus

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Coming up next on The World and Everything in It: World Tour.

Onize Ohikere is on assignment this week, so let’s get started in Asia.


Kyrgyzstan turmoilWhen protests turned violent in Kyrgyzstan last week, the president declared a state of emergency. What sparked the chaos in the former Soviet country was a disputed parliamentary election. The dispute is over accusations that the president’s political allies were buying the votes they needed to capture a majority. 

Protests broke out in the nation’s capital. 

Opposition groups stormed government buildings. 

The prime minister stepped down, and demonstrators continue to call for the president to resign as well.

On Friday, someone fired shots at several political leaders. President Sooronbai Jeenbekov issued a state of emergency the same day. But parliament failed to sign off on it so he issued it again on Monday. 

The order includes a curfew, and a ban on rallies and public events. But observers say Jeenbekov has lost all political power. In the past 15 years, two presidents have been overthrown in Kyrgyzstan.

NICK EICHER: Police increase violence against protesters in BelarusNext, to Eastern Europe.

AUDIO: [Interior minister of Belarus speaking Russian]

That’s the interior minister of Belarus, which has authorized lethal force to put down protests. The interior ministry called the move necessary to halt what it called “radicalized” anti-government protests. Security forces detained more than 700 people over the weekend. They used water cannons and batons to break up the crowds.

Protesters have hit the streets every week since August. That’s when president Alexander Lukashenko claimed to have won the election by a landslide. The protesters say he rigged the vote to stay in power. For his part, Lukashenko denies wrongdoing. 

On Monday, the European Union warned Lukashenko it may impose sanctions on him personally if he continues to crack down on protests.

AUDIO: There has not been any signal from the Belarus authorities to engage in any kind of conversation, in any kind of talks.

The EU has already issued sanctions for 40 top officials in Belarus.

REICHARD: French hostages released, one killedMoving West, now, to France.

AUDIO: [Son hugging Sophie Petronin and crying]

Aid worker Sophie Petronin returned home last week. She spent four years as a captive in Mali. The French and Malian governments negotiated her safe return along with three others. 

Petronin was working for a children’s charity when gunmen abducted her in 2016. Mali has struggled against a jihadist insurgency that emerged in 2012.

The other captives include two Italian nationals, as well as a prominent Malian politician. After his disappearance, political pressure began to build against the president for failing to stamp out the jihadists. Nationwide protests followed … that eventually forced the president out of office.

Petronin reported the jihadists killed a fifth hostage last month, a Swiss woman who was a Christian missionary. 

EICHER: Arctic expedition returnsAnd finally, we end today in Germany.


That’s the Polarstern, the icebreaker ship just returned from the Arctic Circle. The ship set off on a scientific expedition more than a year ago.

During the trip, the crew created a small scientific village. More than 300 scientists from around the world participated in the mission. The Polarstern is bringing back a trove of data.

The crew says it may take them a decade to sift through it all, but they hope it will help them learn more about the atmosphere, weather, and climate.

That’s this week’s World Tour. 

(AP Photo) People clash with policemen during an opposition rally to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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