Atambayev begins his counterattack
Scandal around detention of former high-ranking officials on charges of corruption continues in Kyrgyzstan. Our sources in Bishkek believe that this is just a beginning, and arrests will continue until former President Almazbek Atambayev will be brought to justice. However, some of them think that this huge scandal will gradually die out, if Atambaev abandons his political ambitions and his idea of becoming a "father of the Kyrgyz nation." Recent events, however, don't support this "peaceful scenario," Russian federal analytical agency Zond writes.
Former President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev finally reacted to arrests of his comrades, who had been in power until recently. He made a special statement, in which he called persecution of people from his entourage "politically motivated and unwarranted". Moreover, he did when current head of the republic Sooronbay Jeenbekov visits China. This visit promises to be difficult precisely because of corruption of former authorities.
Since it was involved in corruption scandals in one way or another, or rather dragged into them, Chinese side is trying to restore its image, to find exact circumstances of what happened, as well as to get answers to several questions: are new authorities of Kyrgyzstan planning to atone for the sins of former authorities, are they planning to continue cooperation with China and its companies, and, if they do, how will this cooperation develop in the future. Jeenbekov will have to answer these questions in Beijing.
But while Sooronbay Jeenbekov is still in China, his predecessor decided to "expose him." His position is completely opposite to position of new authorities: all arrested - former Prime Minister Sapar Isakov, former head of the customs service and ex-mayor of Bishkek Kubanychbek Kulmatov, former Minister of Energy, MP Osmonbek Artykbaev - are victims of political repressions, and in reality, they successfully fought against corruption, the country's budget has increased thanks to them, and so on.
All arrested are accused of corruption during modernization of the Bishkek thermal power plant, build using Chinese loan. At the same time, Isakov, for example, is accused of lobbying for interests of foreign (Chinese) company, Kulmatov is accused of spending funds (provided by Chinese) on non-budgeted goals, while Artykbaev was in charge of the Kyrgyz energy industry at that time. Perhaps all of them could have got away with it, but station was built extremely poorly and went out of order during winter.
It's important to note that it would be wrong to say that this plant was the only reason members of Atambayev's close circle were arrested. Informed sources list dozen projects, mainly associated with energy complex and infrastructure, which look "very suspicious". However, Atambaev reffered to these arrests simply as "witch hunt". He urged authorities to change their mind.
Energy expert Zulfiya Marat wrote on her Facebook page: "We witnessed the phenomenon of "interlinked political chain of systemic corruption" - the most dangerous form of corruption in the country. The fact of corruption is obvious and indisputable, especially when it comes to the Bishkek thermal power plant. Political prisoner Ernest Karybekov warned since the beginning that this project is harmful, despite the fact that he was repeatedly obstructed and ostracized by "tamed" media. Now we have to determine to which extent these people participated in this corruption, as well as severity of their crime. That's all I can say about yesterday's arrests." According to Marat, this case can be resolved only when former President Atambayev will lose his immunity, although there are still some questions about a number of officials who are still free
Former speaker of the parliament, historitian Zainiddin Kurmanov gave similar interpretation of these events. According to him, former leaders, who found themselves in a difficult situation, persecuted their opponents in the past. "They started this policy of persecutions, and today they pay for it: previous President tried to rule the country for six years, lying on the couch. He lost the opportunity to become a reformer, surrounding himself with illiterate lackeys. No one have ever deceived history - it will always get you!" he said, commenting on Atambayev's statement.
Kyrgyz politician and former MP Ravshan Dzheyenbekov believes that Almazbek Atambayev's counterattack will only make situation worse and provoke a new round of repressions, because everything that happens is a direct consequence of the conflict between former President and current President. "Today Kyrgyzstan has three centers of power: current authorities, headed by Jeenbekov, former authorities, headed by Atambayev and his entourage, as well as opposition, which is against Atambayev but hasn't sided with Jeenbekov yet. Political agenda of the country is formed by these three centers," he said. In his opinion, third camp will gradually merge with presidential camp, and even if it won't, this conflict will result in complete defeat of Atambayev: he will lose all levers, all allies, and most importantly - he will lose immunity.