7 july 2020

Central Asia news

Business ventures of the ex-Kyrgyz president's family remain in the focus of attention of the Western media

01.11.2006 12:10 msk

Ferghana.Ru news agency

Media Review Kyrgyzstan

"Dishonorable Alliance In The War On Terror?" is the title of the article published on MSNBC.com. NBC journalists laid hands on an FBI report claiming that the family of ex-president of Kyrgyz Askar Akayev ran an extensive international criminal network that included several American companies. Judging by the report, investigation turned up 175 objects connected with Akayev's organization. Investigation of Akayev's activities led the FBI to the territory of the United States where the Akayevs maintained contacts with "a certain US citizen known as founder of more than 6,000 American companies used by the underworld for the purposes of clandestine arms deals, traffic, and computer fraud."

NBC is convinced that all of that are results of Akayev's counter-terrorism alliance with the US Administration. The part Kyrgyzstan, a small Central Asian country, has played in the international war on terrorism is quite significant. It was Akayev, dethroned in the revolution in March 2005, who had permitted the Pentagon to establish an AF base in Kyrgyzstan for the Afghani operation.

Once the AF base accord was signed, the US Army poured more than $100 million into subcontracts to maintain the Akayevs' fuel monopoly. The unexpected windfall that ended up in the family ventures approximately equalled 5% of the Kyrgyz GDP.

This is not the first surfacing of the FBI report forwarded to the US General Attorney. The New York Times featured some of the facts form the report a year ago. Moscow-based newspaper Vremya Novostei ran an exhaustive article on it titled "Something Fishy".

Scott Horton, a prominent American lawyer and specialist in Central Asia, commented on the FBI report then. "The Pentagon made the deals knowing in advance that they would enrich the ruling family," The New York Times quoted Horton as saying then. "The Pentagon paid millions to the companies of the Kyrgyz president and his family," Horton told NBC the other day.

NBC journalists approached Anders Ausland, a prominent economist who knows Akayev personally because he drafted annual economic reviews on Kyrgyzstan for the UN Development Program. Ausland claims that the Akayevs' involvement in corrupt deals was quite broad. The economist suspects that the Akayevs accumulated between $500 million and $1 billion.

Both articles (the one in The New York Times last year and on the NBC web site) maintain that two companies run by the president's relatives received $120 million from the Americans by way of fuel contracts. The matter concerns Aalam Services that the FBI claims was run by Akayev's son-in-law Adil Toigonbayev and Manas run by Akayev's son Aidar.

The former contractor the Pentagon hired as supplier of fuel maintains that the Americans were informed of the connection between the president's family and the companies (Aalam Services and Manas).

The Pentagon chose a new contractor, Red Star Enterprises, in 2002. This company received $240 million from the Americans over the next several years. Spokesmen for it told NBC that the company had paid $120 million to Akayev's business ventures.

E-mail from Red Star Enterprises to NBC points out that "these companies were used because DESC had told all customers to contract precisely them as they were the only registered companies in Kyrgyzstan offering these kinds of services."

NBC journalists approached J. Carpenter of the Pentagon for comments on the possibility that "the former Kyrgyz leader could pocket the capitals in question." Carpenter replied that "illegal pocketing of the money is an internal matter of Kyrgyzstan" and that "we made the deal with Kyrgyzstan in accordance with the US law."

NBC maintains that Akayev himself (he is living near Moscow, Russia, nowadays) declined comments. His lawyer Galina Skripkina wouldn't answer any questions either.

Ferghana.Ru news agency approached Bermet Akayeva, the daughter of the former president of Kyrgyzstan.

Ferghana.Ru: MSNBC web site posted an article maintaining that the Akayevs ran an "international..."

Bermet Akayeva: No need to quote. I read it too.

Ferghana.Ru: Kyrgyz media outlets and particularly AKIress news agency published it too. As a matter of fact, the subject was already discussed last year. Why do you think they would bring it up again? And why now?

Bermet Akayeva: I saw the materials. That's a rendition of old fantasies plus excerpts from the letter by Lieberman who was looking in the United States for something that could belong to us on orders from the Kyrgyz Prosecutor General's Office. We all know that he failed to come up with anything at all. As a matter of fact, the article plainly states that the FBI wouldn't say if the investigation is under way or not. It also includes a reference to a certain document of unknown origin whose existence I for one have always doubted. Why? I scanned some other articles by the same author and decided that he is fairly critical of the US Administration. One of the articles by him describes how the Pentagon operates in Iraq, another gives an account of Vice President Cheney's friends who are lobbyists, and so on. The impression I got is that the article apparently appeared within the framework of the forthcoming election of the US president. I do not perceive any other reasons behind the reappearance of these old tall tales with but minor alterations. That's an old story invented by our so called revolutionaries, the one they sold to the West. As for Lieberman, I'd say it was an attempt to sold the story to some officials...

These fantasies came back here in the form of articles that were reprinted and referred too. Absolutely groundless, they wouldn't be dropped all the same. I believe that all of that was reanimated in order to distract general public from the situation in the country.

Ferghana.Ru: You are not attributing appearance of the article to the state of affairs in the country, are you?

Bermet Akayeva: I do not even know if NBC has any journalists in Kyrgyzstan at this point. That's a respectable news service. I have no reasons to suspect that it is working together with someone here but I have no way of knowing for sure of course. Perhaps, someone in Kyrgyzstan provided a stimuli... I do not know anything about a connection between someone in Kyrgyzstan and NBC journalists. A look at the articles by the same author, however, persuaded me that he is quite critical of the Republican Administration. He criticizes everything from the operation in Iraq to the relations with Kyrgyzstan, and so on. The impression is that the article in question is an element of the campaign that will culminate in presidential election in November, a fortnight from now.

Question: What do you think the November 2 rally in Bishkek will end in?

Bermet Akayeva: I earnestly hope that it will be peaceful and that some sort of compromise will be found. New upheavals are the last thing Kyrgyzstan needs nowadays. We have had enough difficulties since March 2005. On the other hand, the existing state of affairs cannot last because economy is all but crippled, because the country is not developing. I hope that this conflict will generate some clear strategy. In any case, I want everything by the law and the Constitution, without a bloodshed.