Kyrgyzstan: Kamchibek Tashiyev freed. Parliament’s dissolution imminent?
In the evening of 17 June 2013, the second level court in Bishkek acquitted the three Kyrgyz MPs who were charged with an attempt to illegally usurp power in the country. Kamchibek Tashiyev, Talant Mamytov and Sadyr Japarov walked out of the preliminary detention facility they were in keeping their Member of Parliament status and the relevant immunity intact. Some analysts in Kyrgyzstan and abroad assume that this could set in motion the largest political crisis in three years [since the last revolution in 2010].
Ironically, the country’s parliament was scheduled to consider a bill on denouncing the agreement with the USA on the Transit Center at Manas on 19 June 2013. It is therefore, very difficult to label the parliamentarians release “just a coincidence.”
In fact, a big battle ensued for the MPs’ release: in early June, MP Tashiyev’s relatives and fellow countrymen blocked the strategically important motorway, which connects the country’s south with north. While the authorities had to somehow agree to the terms of those blocking the road, in the MPs case, they had to rule to consider the time they spent detained for time they allegedly served (the three MPs were at the preliminary detention facility of the State Committee for National Security since October 2012).
However, they were declared “clean” and, based on the information we have, the announcement is a very unpleasant surprise for the Almazbek Atambayev administration. Judging on how the case was tried in court, the president’s team was most probably expecting the previous verdict would be stepped up, not cancelled.
Only several minutes after the announcement that Tashiyev and his accomplices would be acquitted hit the airwaves, the Kyrgyz section of the Internet exploded with discontent comments. Facebook and other social media users had one question asked most: were the judges intimated or bribed into acquitting them…
Actually, the Kyrgyz society sees nothing new in the releases of even most odious criminals lately; the judges are not motivated by justice feelings apparently and are “encouraged financially” to acquit or releases notorious criminals either from prison or even the courtroom. In spring, Aziz Batukayev, an individual known as a “criminal in law” was released due to “health concerns” and he was quick to leave for Russia. On 28 May 2013, the Osh Regional Court acquitted Kadyr “Django” Dosonov, one of the most notorious criminals in Southern Kyrgyzstan. The list goes on.
However, the MPs’ release must have been secured by far more important power centers, which are capable of not only providing a significant financial stimulus but can also guarantee security for those making their decision on acquittal.
It is noteworthy, that during the 17 June hearing, the judge opened his mouth to say the hearing would be postponed until 24 June 2013, only to dodge plastic bottles and a shoe the MPs’ supporters threw at him. The verdict was adopted the same day. It is also very strange that the judge is so afraid of a “special task squad of women” – a group of women from the Jalalabad Region who participated on behalf of the MPs. He could have asked the police to vacate the courtroom and continue trying the case behind closed doors. One inclined towards conspiracy theories certainly has food for thought as to the origin and purpose of thrown objects at him…
The freed opposition MPs were quick to say they are going to make a very harsh political statement at a nearest parliamentary session. Perhaps they are going to demand again to immediately nationalize the Kumtor goldmine. The demand was the very reason that eventually led to their arrest following a rally in Bishkek in October 2012.
“The opposition forces in Kyrgyzstan became very active over the last several weeks. [This] indicates they must have received financial incentives,” Aleksandr Filippov, a co-founder of the Moscow Institute for Humanitarian and Political Research, maintains. “If one was to test the “seek the benefiter” hypothesis, a political crisis and the parliament’s dissolution would certainly meet U.S. interests in the region at the moment. If the opposition cracks the parliament apart, discussions over kicking the [U.S.] military airbase would be postponed at least for six months. It does not matter what causes the dissolution – the Kumtor issue or anything else. It was George W. Bush who stated that the USA’s military presence in Kyrgyzstan does is not time limited. The USA could provide the opposition in this country [with funds] in order to exert pressure on the Kyrgyz leadership.”
It is also interesting to note that the U.S. diplomats are seriously engaged in various activities in Kyrgyzstan. A few days ago, US Ambassador Pamela Spratlen met with Melis Myrzakmatov, one of most influential officials in southern Kyrgyzstan known for his independence from central authorities. While no details of the meeting were released, the mayor of Osh asked the USA for “assistance in searching for organizers of the June 2010 events.”
Analysts in Bishkek also draw attention to the fact that the U.S. Justice Department dropped the case against Maksim Bakiyev, the former Kyrgyz president’s son. The USA is no longer seeking his extradition from the United Kingdom. One cannot rule out the possibility that certain agreements have led to this and the Americans will not have to spend their taxpayers’ money to impact the internal processes in Kyrgyzstan. After all, the Bakiyevs family did haul away large amounts of money before fleeing the country.
The judicially acquitted opposition figures can now resume mass protests in various parts of the country and combine it with using the parliament to pressuring the vertical of the executive branch of power. Sadyr Japarov, a native of Northern Kyrgyzstan, could be in charge of Issyk-Kul, which has already seen rallies for nationalizing the Kumtor goldmine. The rallies ended up with mass clashes with law enforcement officers. Kamchibek Tashiyev, obviously, will be active in his native Jalalabad…
It is extremely important the Kremlin to properly choose a mode of action in this situation. Russia has been consistently stating that it favors the withdrawal of the American base from Kyrgyzstan. Russia is bound with Kyrgyzstan on certain obligations with the Collective Security Treaty Organization and other bilateral agreements reached last fall. These documents state that in case the constitutional order in Kyrgyzstan faces threats, Moscow has the right to get directly involved. One could assume that the Kremlin can extend a helping hand to President Almazbek Atambayev in case mass riots ensue; especially when foreign actors’ inspiration of those is apparent.
But what form will such assistance be delivered in? Is it not too late anyway? There are no answers to these questions at the moment.