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Central Asia news

Kyrgyzstan: Criminal charges to be fabricated against the opposition

16.12.2008 13:43 msk

Kommersant (Moscow)

Politics Kyrgyzstan

On December 15, the Kyrgyz Prosecutor General's Office officially launched an investigation into the alleged theft of state funds from the Finance Ministry when it had been headed by Alikbek Jekshenkulov, one of the leaders of the Movement for Fairness nowadays. Offices of opposition parties and movements were searched. Experts believe that a major campaign against the opposition is under way.

Criminal proceedings were instituted as soon as examination of the Foreign Ministry by the Auditing Commission was over. According to the Prosecutor General's Office, it has knowledge of "... numerous violations of the acting legislation" in procurement of goods and services with the grant from the government of the People's Republic of China "to the amount in excess of 73 million soms" (or about $2 million). It states furthermore that erstwhile top officials of the Foreign Ministry never organized contests among businesses willing to offer their services and neglected paperwork.

Experts in the meantime say that the criminal proceedings are clearly political, used as a tool against Jekshenkulov with his Movement for Fairness that have been gaining prominence in Kyrgyzstan. As a matter of fact, it is not the first campaign against Jekshenkulov mounted by the powers-that-be. In early 2008, government-sponsored and -controlled newspaper Agym featured a piece connecting the opposition leader with a double murder in the distant 1990. Jekshenkulov sued the newspaper and collected. The prosecutor's office then reopened investigation of a melee in a nightclub two years ago Jekshenkulov's son Bekkul had participated in. (When the case made the court in 2006, Bekkul was completely cleared.)

It seems, however, that the Kyrgyz authorities mean business this time. Last week, the Prosecutor General's Office had reopened the case against another opposition leader, former chairman of the State Property Committee Ravshan Jeyenbekov. Jeyenbekov lives in the United States these days but actively contributes to the opposition activity via Achyk Sajasat, the newspaper owned by his father. Like Jekshenkulov, he is suspected of pilfering and embezzlement.

Officers of the Bishkek prosecutor's office and National Security State Committee searched the office of the Green Party and People's Revolutionary Movement for President Bakiyev's Resignation. Both structures are headed by Kurmanbek Bakiyev's former comrades in the so called Tulip Revolution, namely Erkin Bulekbayev and Azimbek Beknazarov. Opposition activists claim that a dozen or so officers forced their way into the premises and began filming the proceedings. Six attesting witnesses were present along with four officers of state security, with 12 plainclothesmen waiting outdoors. No documents were produced to justify the search. When opposition activists demanded to see the search warrant, they were unceremoniously shoved outside.

Jekshenkulov's reaction to the latest developments is not known. He is on a visit to the United States these days, presenting a new concept of the political system drawn by the Movement for Fairness and some other political parties. In October, Jekshenkulov made an analogous visit to Moscow which greatly upset official Bishkek.

Kommersant, No 229, December 16, 2008, p. 10. © Translated by Ferghana.Ru