"Let them burn it…"Askar Akaev is outraged with disorder in Kyrgyzstan
The representatives of Kyrgyz special services, Public Prosecutor’s office and law enforcement agencies showed up in the house of Askar Akaev, the former President of Kyrgyzstan, in Bishkek. They ordered to take all personal belongings and free the house within one day. Two months ago the library of the First Kyrgyz President was also expropriated by the government.
In the morning of November 16 Askar Akaevich called our office, named our "Internet newspaper" the most influential edition in the region and suggested publishing his opinion on this issue.
It has to be mentioned that when Askar Akaevich was complaining about family rule we never interrupted him: Are you the one who is complaining? Even the person, who is associated with the launch of family rule system, prospering corruption and elimination of independent courts in Kyrgyzstan, has the right to complain when his property is expropriated. Our "Internet newspaper" left the right to add some strokes that, in our opinion, better reflect the situation.
Askar Akaev: - Every Monday I hear news from Kyrgyzstan. This time my house is being expropriated. This is the only property I have left in Kyrgyzstan. I received land as the President of National Academy in Kyrgyzstan many years ago. I have been building this house for 10 years on family savings.
- How big is the house?
This is modest two-storeyed cottage with about 200 square meters of active area. The house was built in Soviet times. Today, 200 square meters is the size of average apartment. This is the only property left in republic that I served 40 years and 14 years as President.
- Who is the owner?
- Myself, of course. When I was the President I never built houses and received apartments, although nobody believes me.
- Did you live in this house while your presidency?
- No, I lived in the presidential residency. In many countries of the world the retired president is guaranteed a place to live and pension… I got nothing and I have no hopes to get that under current regime.
- Do you know who initiated the expropriation of your house?
- President Bakiev. This is his personal political order. He is taking the house so that I am not able to return home.
- Do you think that Bakiev is expropriating your house because he is afraid of your comeback? Is it true that you will not go back to Kyrgyzstan in this case?
- People think that way…I do not think he is scared. Few years ago democracy was alive in the republic. Kyrgyzstan turned into police state with authoritarian rule, clan domination… In most countries of the world the constitutional norms guarantees the safety of the president and his personal property and belongings such as books, archives, correspondence, articles in my case. There are no rugs, jewelry or diamonds. When we left the presidential residency the public prosecutor’s office checked all our personal items. All valuable stuff was expropriated while the rest items were sent to this house.
I had the collection of valuable books that I granted to the library of the First President. There were thousands of various books: science, fiction and special books, presented by leaders, Nobel Prize winners and outstanding scientists. There are many books on history of Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia. Chinese leader even ordered to provide information from ancient Chinese manuscripts. I brought rare edition of Shahname from Iran. The oriental experts from St. Petersburg helped me collect unique books on relations between Kyrgyzstan and Russia for 225 year period.
The library of the first president was private property of public foundation and I agreed to establish this library, funded by private donations. We wanted to transform the library into Information and Research Center on Kyrgyz history.
- I heard that Kyrgyz authorities never revealed valuable books in the library…
- Some of them were burnt as it always happens during the revolution. My files in the White House office were all burnt just as National socialists were burning Einstein’s manuscripts. When they were going to expropriate the library items I gave interview to Echo Moskvy. Public reaction saved the library from forced expropriation. However, today I received a call from the Director of the library and she informed that she had one day to take all personal belongings. Otherwise, the authorities promised to burn everything… Well, let them do it…
- When the police officers took over the library building they showed the court statement…
- Yes, they did that to imitate the rule of law. There are no independent courts in Kyrgyzstan. All of them announce verdict in accordance with the political order from White House or direct call.
The nationalization of library was illegitimate since no single penny of state budget funds was invested there. Immediately after revolution the Prosecutor General Beknazarov announced that he was going to expropriate all property, belonging to Akaev. The attempt failed miserably. Beknazarov admitted that public foundation built and maintains this library in full compliance with national legislation. Now I understand that Beknazarov is an honest man.
Later on, the library building became the target of Maxim Bakiev. He put all efforts to confiscate the library to the benefit of the state.
- Will you attempt to challenge the expropriation of your house?
- There is no rule of law in Kyrgyzstan. The expropriation of my house is the direct violation of Constitution and my civil rights. Immature bases of democracy are destroyed by totalitarian rule of Bakiev’s family.
According to political opponents of Akaev, by March of 2005 the president’s family controlled 40-100 enterprises in the republic, including shops, resorts, mass media, restaurants and bazaars…However, Kyrgyz President and his team always rejected their participation in these ventures.
Since March of 2005 over 100 criminal cases were filed against the property of former Kyrgyz President and his family. Most of them were not finished. Immediately after the revolution the government started the search of "sackfuls of money" of Akaev’s family. That time deputy Prime-Minister Daniyar Usenov allocated 500 thousand US dollars to General Prosecutor for hiring American lawyer. Nonetheless, all the attempts to find illegal capital failed.
Some businessmen and independent journalists shared that during Akaev’s rule forced entry into capital of profitable companies became widespread in the republic when people, close to Akaev’s family, took control over such enterprises. After the escape of Akaev, massive redistribution of wealth took place in the country. In some cases this was peaceful transfer of property while other cases produced scandals, blackouts and strike.
The last property items, associated with the name of Akaev, remained the library of the first President and his mansion. The legal disputes have continued through four years. However, the Prosecutor’s office continued arguing that the construction of the library was partially funded by the state budget sources and while the local entrepreneurs were also forced to donate money. The Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan resolved to expropriate the library to the benefit of the state as well as return seven million som (about 10 million rubles) to the entrepreneurs that were forced to donate money for the construction.
The library building and the house of the First President were officially transferred to the state in accordance with the judicial decision, dated in 2008.
During the investigation it was stated that construction of the library building and private house, erected on the land, owned by Akaev, were sponsored by state budget. Therefore, the court decided to transfer these property items to the State Property Foundation (SPF). Today, SPF is considering the applications "from governmental agencies that need office space".
By Marina Yanovskaya