A Central Asian country of incredible natural beauty and proud nomadic traditions most of Kyrgyzstan was formally annexed to Russia in 1876. The Kyrgyz staged a major revolt against the Tsarist Empire in 1916 in which almost one-sixth of the Kyrgyz population was killed. Kyrgyzstan became a Soviet republic in 1936 and achieved independence in 1991 when the USSR dissolved. Nationwide demonstrations in the spring of 2005 resulted in the ouster of President Askar AKAEV who had run the country since 1990. Subsequent presidential elections in July 2005 were won overwhelmingly by former prime minister Kurmanbek BAKIEV. The political opposition organized demonstrations in Bishkek in April May and November 2006 resulting in the adoption of a new constitution that transferred some of the president's powers to parliament and the government. In December 2006 the Kyrgyzstani parliament voted to adopt new amendments restoring some of the presidential powers lost in the November 2006 constitutional change. By late-September 2007 both previous versions of the constitution were declared illegal and the country reverted to the AKAEV-era 2003 constitution which was subsequently modified in a flawed referendum initiated by BAKIEV. The president then dissolved parliament called for early elections and gained control of the new parliament through his newly-created political party Ak Jol in December 2007 elections. Current concerns include: privatization of state-owned enterprises negative trends in democracy and political freedoms endemic corruption improving interethnic relations electricity generation rising food prices and combating terrorism.
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