From Hiding, Head of Central Asia's Sole Democracy.
Kyrgyzstan 's president said he wouldn't be remembered as a tyrant "who shed blood and fired at his own people."
MOSCOW — After more than a week in hiding following a contested election, Kyrgyzstan 's president, Central Asia 's sole democracy, declared on Thursday his intentions to resign, saying he will not go down in history as a tyrant "who shed blood and shot at his own people."
In a statement issued from an undisclosed location, the president, Sooronbai Jeenbekov, said he had "taken a resignation decision," although he did not specify if he had already quit.
Only a few hours ago, Mr. Jeebenkov told a delegation of retired senior officials and political veterans that he had no intention to step down and would stand firm against a takeover of power that was generally suspected to be supported by criminals.
Feliks Kulov, a former prime minister who met the president on Thursday morning, expressed alarm about Mr. Jeenbekov's sudden change of heart, speculating in a Facebook post that the leader had "presented a choice: voluntary resignation or actual war."
The dazzling developments that left a released prisoner in charge of the government as prime minister appeared to mark the culmination of what started as a rebellion by moderate opposition parties over a rigged election and degenerated into a reign of anarchy fuelled by thugs and criminals last week.
Mr. Jeenbekov disappeared from view after demonstrators, unhappy with October 4 parliamentary polls that were marred by alleged vote-buying, attacked the president's office and other government buildings in the capital, Bishkek. He was rumored to have taken shelter in a Russian air base in Kant City, about 12 miles from Bishkek, but his precise position remained unknown.
His exit is the third time in 15 years that violent demonstrations overthrew Kyrgyzstan 's president, the only nation in the region with a thriving civil society, comparatively free press, and daily competitive parliamentary and presidential election.
The Kremlin, which helped engineer oust a Kyrgyz president in 2010 who had defied Russian pressure to shut down a U.S. air base in his country since closed, reacted coolly to the announcement Thursday. Mr. Jeenbekov's strong ties with Russia's President Vladimir V. Putin.
Russia is monitoring the developments in Bishkek "very closely," Mr. Putin's spokesperson, Dmitri Peskov, told Moscow journalists, and wants "to calm the situation there as soon as possible."
But he added that Russia, which after last week's unrest suspended financial assistance to Kyrgyzstan, wouldn't restore funding until the country has a working government. He noted that it currently has no cabinet and the resignation of the president can not take place unless approved by Parliament.
With the president seemingly out of the way, his position as head of state — and commander-in-chief of the armed forces — will be taken over by Parliament's speaker, who has already come under growing pressure to quit.
However, in what is officially a representative democracy, Kyrgyzstan 's rule belongs to Sadyr Japarov, a convicted kidnapper released from prison last week by anti-government demonstrators. He was named prime minister on Saturday by lawmakers who gathered at the president's official residence for an unusual and his opponents say illegal session without quorum.
In announcing his resignation, President Jeenbekov, who directed troops to restore order to the capital last week, called on Mr. Japaraov and rival politicians to "withdraw their supporters from the capital and give Bishkek people a peaceful life."
Hundreds of protesters — some of whom were allies of Mr. Japarov, but also a group of men whom observers in Bishkek identified as hired thugs connected to crime groups — gathered outside the president's official residence on Thursday to demand Mr. Jeenbekov's relinquishment.
A party of Mr. Japarov 's fans, mainly young men, clashed violently with supporters of another suspected prime minister last week. After the conflict, concerns have risen the Mr. Japarov, reviled as a bare-knuckled nationalist rabble-rouser by his opponents, will organize his supporters again if the president did not back down.
Mr. Jeenbekov, who was elected in 2017, said he would quit office after he returned to the capital, which in recent days was free from the chaos that surrounded it last week.
Mr Japarov, the current Prime Minister, has long maintained that his 2017 imprisonment on charges of arranging the abduction of a provincial governor was politically motivated in a world where each current administration has regularly arrested representatives of the former and opposing leaders. Mr. Jeenbekov had his boss, Almazbek Atambayev, arrested and jailed on corruption charges shortly after assuming office.
Mr. Atambayev, who served an 11-year term, was with Mr. Japarov from prison last week. He was re-arrested Saturday.