Authorities deliver double blow to Atambaev
Following the prevailing post-Soviet tradition, with the beginning of spring, Kyrgyz politicians, as if waking from hibernation, began picking. This time their actions resemble controlled chaos. Even on the surface, it turns out that most of the attacks are directed at former President Almazbek Atambayev.
After a long pause, the ex-president again spoke of his desire to return to politics. In his plans - a successful performance at the 2020 parliamentary elections. So far, Atambayev has something or someone to lean on. He remains chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK), which has a majority in parliament.
The authorities, keeping in mind such a scenario, made an attempt to “pull out” the SDPK from Atambayev’s hands last year, but succeeded only in splitting the party into two wings - part of the SDPK “swore” to the pro-government Isa Omurkulov, and some remained loyal to Almazbek Atambayev. It turned out to be impossible to deprive the ex-president of the authority of the party’s chairman. But Atambayev, while remaining a formal party leader, is not entirely entitled to speak on its behalf. Opportunists are preparing for their congress, which they intend to hold in early April. They will make another attempt to leave Atambayev without a party.
"The Kyrgyz authorities are undoubtedly behind all this. They are categorically against Atambayev’s return to big politics and are doing everything possible to prevent this, to deprive him of the slightest chance to act on the political field of the country and begin to play his game," Kyrgyz public figure, ex-presidential candidate Toktaym Umetalieva told Vestnik Kavkaza. According to her, the authorities deliver double-blow to Atambayev. The first has already been mentioned, and the second front was opened against him by the recently released prominent members of Kyrgyz society, who were behind bars during Atambayev’s presidency, and were amnestied by his successor, Sooronbai Jeenbekov. “This is a purely political fuss. A group of former high-ranking officials, influential people were amnestied for the specific purpose of starting up a “ fight ”with Atambayev. There is a regrouping of forces with a view to the parliamentary elections,” Umetalieva said.
The released politicians, among whom there are quite a few former high-ranking officials and even regional governors, have already announced their intention to restore their reputation through the courts and to ensure that Alamazbek Atambayev himself will find out the “charms” of prison life. Members of the People’s Parliament political movement are particularly active as they were sentenced to many years in prison for betraying their homeland, cooperating with foreign military and attempting to organize a coup. Considering that the party was only born and hardly registered, the accusations against its leaders seemed excessive, and their plans, voiced during court hearings, were not well correlated with reality. According to the prosecution, it turned out that foreign officers met with Kyrgyz politicians who created the People's Parliament, promised military assistance, persuaded them to "begin to act", and then disappeared somewhere. At the same time, the People’s Parliament that organised a very small rally, which could not claim anything, was sent to jail by law enforcement officers. One of the jailed activists, former Deputy Prime Minister Bekbolt Talgarbekov, having been released, said that "Atambayev must answer for slander and insults." Talgarbekov has already prepared a lawsuit against the ex-president.
"Without the support and even instructions of the authorities, no one will achieve anything by himself against Atambayev. To begin with, they must get out of a legal conflict - they were amnestied by the current government under the new procedural code, and the articles on which they received their long terms are from the old code. Therefore, they cannot play on their own, but under the control of the authorities they will be able to influence the electoral situation as a whole and help the authorities in creating the general necessary atmosphere, ”Umetalieva said.
As for Almazbek Atambayev, Kyrgyz politician Ravshan Dzheenbekov told Vestnik Kavkaza that the former president is able to defy the authorities, but under certain conditions. In his opinion, it is Atambayev who can stand up to the current president, Jeenbekov, since there are no longer any equivalent figures on the political board of Kyrgyzstan. The current leader is more powerful, but Atambayev has money and, most importantly, influence on the media that can help him in the election campaign. Dzheenbekov also believes that the head of state himself can play into the hands of Atambaev: in particular, many in Kyrgyzstan do not like his "flirting with Islam." The influence of radical Islamic trends is already growing in the country, and when the president begins some of his speeches by quoting Quran or theological literature, in certain circles this may be regarded as some kind of go-ahead or even a green light. Meanwhile, even before Jeenbekov became president of Kyrgyzstan, everyone in the country knew about his family’s ties with political and business circles in the Middle East. Subsequently, ex-president Atambayev began to talk about the threat of Islamization of Kyrgyzstan. He will probably play this card, hoping for the support of the republic’s secular circles.
According to Toktaiym Umetalieva, in the future parliament that will be elected in 2020, the majority of deputy seats will be transferred to politicians committed to one or another Islamic organization or movement. The reason, in her opinion, of such a rapid Islamization of the country, lies in the social vulnerability of the population, economic degradation, popularization of madrassas taught by mullahs who received education in Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the lack of quality secular education and alternative ideology.
One way or another, the government is already considering the scenario of the political neutralization of ex-President Atambayev. Perhaps, everything will be solved at the party level - depriving Atambayev of his SDPK. And perhaps, the ex-president will become mired in the courts, appearing as a defendant on the claims of former prisoners, and he will have no time for the election campaign, if, of course, he gets permission. In a word, there are many intricacies in Kyrgyz politics, and not all of them have been highlighted so far on the eve of the upcoming elections.