BISHKEK, KYRGYZSTAN—The masterminds behind the bloodless coup d'etat that wrested power from President Askar Akayev Sunday said they were disappointed by the peaceful, efficient execution of the regime change.
"We spent months singing songs about the streets running red with the blood of our oppressors," said Ramazan Nyboyev, supreme leader of the New Dawning party and new president of Kyrgyzstan. "Now I'm standing here with the capital city under my thumb, and I didn't even get to fire my gun."
"Some of the younger guerrillas were running the Russian consul's china through a clay-pigeon launcher. But why shoot perfectly good china?" Nyboyev added.
The transfer of power, which ended Kyrgyzstan's 14-year experiment with democracy, was completed in fewer than four hours.
"I was going to lay siege to the lower house of parliament and bomb the president's mansion," Nyboyev said. "But by the time I got up the parliament steps, the delegates had rescinded their titles and sworn their 'everlasting allegiance to the New Dawn.' And why bomb the mansion when the president has left the keys hanging in the door next to a note about the thermostat?"
According to Nyboyev, the coup produced "not a single martyr."
"Who am I supposed to put on the money?" Nyboyev asked. "That soldier who cut himself on his own bayonet? This day was supposed to create heroes for our history books. Now the only way for us to earn the people's respect is to repair the nation's infrastructure."
Added Nyboyev: "Ambush isn't supposed to be like this."
The New Dawning party was formed in 2003, when 14 high-ranking military officials united to overthrow the Akayev administration, a hotbed of corruption, embezzlement, and negligence.
"We planned in secret, biding our time until the day we would storm the capital and crush our adversaries," said New Dawning undersecretary Kurmanek Dutbeyev, who, prior to the coup, warned his family that he was unlikely to survive the "historic day of bloodshed." "I imagined it all a thousand times: the coordinated assault, the rooftop gun battles, the face-to-face brutality—and then nothing. Come the big day, I didn't slit a single throat."
Added Dutbeyev: "We were prepared for casualties—even mass casualties—but no casualties at all? We had no plan in place for that."
The Kyrgyzstani military, one of the most formidable in the region when under Soviet control, did not resist the coup.
"We spent months coming up with an offensive to neutralize the Elite Guard," Nyboyev said. "But when we ordered them to throw their weapons to the ground, they actually threw their weapons to the ground."
Government financial records, made public after the coup, might explain the ready surrender: Even high-ranking administration and military officials had not been paid for months.
"The treasury was empty," Nyboyev said. "The president himself seemed happy to wash his hands of Kyrgyzstan."
Members of the New Dawning party said that, in planning to overthrow the government, they focused on the coup itself, giving little thought to how they would run a nation of five million.
"Our men were expertly trained in poisoning, garroting, and sniping," Nyboyev said. "Now we are 14 deadly revolutionaries in a room, trying to figure out who will be minister of transportation. Earlier today, the military leaders came to us and demanded pay. They were a lot more vicious than they were when they were defending their former bosses."
The international media has largely ignored the coup.
"We thought we would draw the world's attention to our nation's plight and its liberators' bravery," Nyboyev said. "But who cares about 'Eurasian Country Changes Hands; No One Hurt'? The story, like our hopes, got buried."
Nyboyev said he was relieved that the foreign press did not seize upon the party's slogan, which the radicals had printed on posters, buttons, and pamphlets in preparation for their ascendance to power: "When they failed to bow to the people's will, they fell beneath our swords."
"We had to throw all those out," Nyboyev said. "They're just embarrassing now."