Flowers in Place of Guns: An Analysis of Kyrgyzstan's Tulip Revolution in Theoretical Context
thesisposted on 01.04.2016, 00:00 by Vikki M. Doherty
With its 2005 Tulip Revolution, Kyrgyzstan joined the wave of so-called "Color Revolutions" occurring in other countries in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Central Asia. These Color Revolutions were generally characterized by non-violent civil resistance in response to corrupt or authoritarian regimes, and sought to successfully establish democracy in those countries. The protesters in each country adopted a color or flower to represent their movements, hence the moniker "Tulip Revolution." This paper critically analyzes Kyrgyzstan's Tulip Revolution, arguing that, rather than a fully realized revolution, it was a simple transfer of power, as the policy of non-violent resistance proved insufficient to make lasting changes to existing political and social structures in the country. The revolution also failed to successfully establish democracy, instead entrenching existing political corruption. This paper utilizes mostly secondary source materials, concerning the history of the USSR and its collapse, Kyrgyz sociopolitical history, and publications by historians and social scientists about revolutionary theory. To justify its place within the existing historiography, this paper contextualizes the Tulip Revolution in a discussion of prominent and divergent existing theories about revolution, challenging the Tulip Revolution's right to the status as a true revolution.