ALMATY, Kazakhstan – Opposition demonstrators pushed past riot police and seized the presidential headquarters Thursday in the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan, toppling the government in the third successful popular revolt in a former Soviet republic in 16 months. President Askar Akayev dropped from sight, and Russian news agencies reported that he had flown to neighboring Kazakhstan.
In the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, the supreme court quickly nullified the results of disputed elections that had sparked the uprising. Members of Parliament appointed their speaker, Ishenbai Kadyrbekov, as acting president, news services reported.
The speed with which the government crumbled seemed to leave many of its opponents dizzy. The opposition seized major cities in the south early in the week; their first demonstration in the capital, on Wednesday, was small and easily dispersed by police. But on Thursday, they massed in larger numbers and burst inside the presidential compound after scuffling with Akayev supporters.
Kyrgyzstan’s revolt followed street uprisings in two other former republics – the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the Rose Revolution in Georgia, which brought Western-oriented leaders to office.
The Bush administration has welcomed the changes; Russia, which views countries on its border as a natural sphere of influence, has watched warily but allowed the new governments to assume power.
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