Southern Kyrgyzstan - mired in traditional clan politics, steeped in a near-secular brand of Islam and heavily influenced by its Uzbek minority - is the cradle of this so-called revolution, and it has long chafed at the domination of the more Russified, industrialized north. Southerners streamed into Bishkek by the hundreds last week, laying claim to a greater share of the meager national pie.

But the new leadership is unlikely to provide them with much satisfaction, since neither of the regional elites have ever demonstrated much concern for the people. The northern haute monde flies off to resorts in Turkey with the cash earned from dominance over industry; the southern inner circle builds mansions with the dollars it siphons from the drug traffic between Afghanistan and Russia. Meanwhile, the median national income is under a dollar a day, and unemployment in many regions reaches 50 percent.

The new acting president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, served as President Akayev’s prime minister until he was forced from office by public sentiment in 2002 after government troops broke up a peaceful demonstration in the village of Aksy by shooting into the crowd, killing at least five people.

Many Western observers were heartened when Mr. Bakiyev named as foreign minister Roza Otunbayeva, who has held the job twice before. I don’t share the optimism. Ms. Otunbayeva’s main qualification before entering diplomacy was serving as head of the Department of Dialectical Materialism at Kyrgyz State University, a job she got because of the excellence of her doctoral dissertation, “Criticism Regarding the Falsification of Marxist-Leninist Dialectics by the Frankfurt School.”

And even Felix Kulov, the opposition leader who was released from prison last week to great cheers from the West, has few credentials to bolster his democratic pretensions. As deputy interior minister during the final days of the Soviet Union, he commanded troops that killed dozens of protesters who had stormed a police station. He has again been put in charge of the country’s security forces. ~Elinor Burkett, The New York Times

Ms. Burkett’s comments are much needed to dispel some of the fevered visions of some ignorant Western journalists, though I take issue with her rather easy characterisation of the Georgian and Ukrainian revolutions as being somehow more genuine and less based in the same sort of regional and economic grievances (perceived or real) at work in Kyrgyzstan. The convenient east-west divide of the Ukraine was assuredly too simple by half, but it was not entirely misleading, either. The poor, ramshackle western Ukraine–the product of Yushchenko’s previous mismanagement–mirrors southern Kyrgyzstan in its resentments towards the more industrialised, prosperous eastern section. In Georgia, there is the parallel of the former colleagues of the president rising up against him as unlikely tribunes of popular outrage. And, lest we forget the Western lackeys installed in Serbia by the “popular will,” Ms. Otunbayeva had a perfect counterpart in Marxist (though, alas, of the Habermasian persuasion!) Zoran Djindjic, the criminal/president who was gunned down in the course of turf wars between his mobsters and their rivals. The common denominator of likely American influence behind all of these “revolutions” is what makes me most suspicious of the authenticity of any of them.

Nonetheless, the Kyrgyz example stands apart in the utterly narrow, factional nature of the coup. As soon as the old apparatchiks were installed, they legitimised (after some hesitation) the very legislature they were supposedly protesting against and made a mockery of whatever “cause” they purportedly represented. Saakashvili and Yushchenko could at least dupe large crowds into believing that they represented their interests. In Kyrgyzstan the Potemkin democratic revolution is too shoddy and unbelievable to merit such outpourings of public support. What it does share with all the other examples is the presumption of old government hacks, some of whom are either deeply criminal or have the blood of their fellow citizens on their hands (where are the ‘humanitarian’ neocons to call for the resignation of the butcher Kulov?), to speak for “the people.” That such people scarcely ever desire to serve the common good is fairly obvious. It is about time the Western press give up a “paradigm” that serves mostly to legitimise thieves, frauds and villains at the expense of public order and legal government.