White House, Bishkek
|Architectural style||Soviet Modernism|
The White House is the presidential office building in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The White House was the site of riots during both the 2005 Tulip Revolution and the 2010 Kyrgyzstani riots. During the 2010 riots a fire broke out and damaged portions of the building and destroyed the hard copies of many government records.
The building is a seven story tall building built in Stalinist modern style, with the STO (Gosplan, Duma) building in Moscow as a model. The exterior is covered in marble. In front of the building is a large bed of red flowers representing the country's Soviet ties. The building was commissioned in 1976 to be the Communist Party's Central Committee headquarters. Construction took eight years and was completed in 1985. It is supposedly in this building where Askar Akayev studied "the situation" during the collapse of communism. There is said to be an underground complex under the Ala-Too Square (formerly the Lenin Square) connected to the White House via an underground series of tunnels. On the front of the building, there is the crest of the nation. Before communism fell, the location was covered by the crest that was in use during communist times.
The Tulip Revolution refers to a series of protests that eventually overthrew the President Askar Akayev and his government. On Thursday, 24 March 2005 protests spread to Bishkek, where a large crowd of tens of thousands of people gathered in front of the White House. When security forces and pro-government provocateurs began beating a number of youthful demonstrators in the front ranks, the main crowd behind them closed ranks and a large number of the young swept past the security forces and stormed into the government headquarters. Just when a compromise appeared to have been agreed between the demonstrators and the security services, a mounted charge by government cavalry dispersed the crowd. President Akayev used this time and fled with his family by helicopter to Kazakhstan, from where he subsequently flew to Moscow.
In 2010, the building became the center of the revolution. On 7 April, protesters in Bishkek filled Ala-Too Square and surrounded the White House. The police at first used non-lethal methods like teargas but after two trucks tried to ram down the gate live ammunition was used. At least forty-one protesters were killed in the ensuing engagement. After the protests subsided, the building was taken over by the provisional government. In the aftermath of the riots, it was determined that a fire that swept the building had destroyed records that were housed in the building. This destruction will likely complicate the prosecution of former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev.
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