Akayev, Askar (äsˈkär äkäˈyĕv) [key], 1944–, Kyrgyzstani political leader. A physicist, he was educated (grad. 1967), and then taught, in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). Returning to Kirghiz SSR in 1977, he was a physics professor at Frunze Polytechnic Institute. In 1981 he earned a doctorate from the Moscow Institute of Engineering and Physics, and he rose to become president of the Kirghiz Academy of Sciences in 1989. In 1990 he was elected president of the Kirghiz SSR as a compromise candidate; a year later he became president of the newly independent Kyrgyzstan. Initally known as an advocate of free-market reforms, Akayev became increasingly authoritarian in the mid-1990s, and was returned to office in elections that were increasingly suspect. The lopsided 2005 parliamentary elections sparked widespread demonstrations against him, and Akayev was ousted in the ensuing "Tulip Revolution." He went into exile in Russia, where he became a physics professor in Moscow.
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