Atambayev faces life imprisonment

Atambayev faces life imprisonment

Former President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev was sentenced to 11 years and 2 months in prison, his and his relative's property will be confiscated. This is a sentence in the first criminal case against the ex-president due to crime boss of Chechen origin Aziz Batukaev's illegal release from prison. The court also considers the degree of Atambayev’s involvement in the death of a special forces officer during the assault on the house in the village of Koy-Tash. Obviously, the verdict in this case will be more serious.

The verdict was announced in the absence of Almazbek Atambayev. He refused to participate in the hearing and the last word, since he considers all the charges against him as absurd. The trial has begun last November, and the prosecutor’s office requested more than 15 years in prison for the former head of state. As a result, the Pervomaysky court of Bishkek sentenced the ex-president to 11 years and 2 months in prison, but his and his relative's property will be confiscated. In particular, the list of "seizures" included five cars, houses in the Chui and Issyk-Kul regions, ten land lots, OJSC Media Forum, "Forum", "Avtomash-Energo" and "April TV", shares of enterprises, accounts in 18 banks of Kyrgyzstan and the contents of bank cells. Atambaev was also stripped of state titles and awards - the Danaker Order and the Manas Order of the II degree, the Dank medal, and the president’s nominal hours.

The reason for such a harsh punishment was the illegal release of Batukaev, who was serving a 16-year sentence for serious crimes, including organizing mass riots in the colony, during which an MP and the State Penitentiary Service's head were killed. Batukaev was unexpectedly diagnosed with late stage blood cancer. By the decision of the medical commission, the patient left the colony ahead of schedule in 2013. Atambaev, who was the president at that time, was considered involved in the corruption scheme to release the criminal.

As Vestnik Kavkaza previously reported, Almazbek Atambayev, who led Kyrgyzstan in 2011-2017, was detained on August 8, 2019 after a two-day assault on his house in the village of Koy-Tash, Chui Oblast. More than a hundred people then applied for medical care, and Usenbek Niyazbekov, a riot police officer, died in the hospital. The investigation claims that the deadly shot was fired from an Atambayev's sniper rifle.

That's was the end of the two-year confrontation between ex-president Almazbek Atambayev and current head of state Sooronbay Jeenbekov.

Experts note that for 27 years of independence, three out of four Kyrgyz presidents were declared enemies of the people and criminals. Only Roza Otumabaeva, who served as the President of Kyrgyzstan in 2010-2011, has a calm life and enjoys all the privileges.

Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who served as president from 2005 to 2010, lives in exile in Minsk, Askar Akayev, the first president of Kyrgyzstan from 1990 to 2005, lives and works in Moscow.

MGIMO’s chief research fellow Andrei Kazantsev believes that on the one hand, if they imprison like they did with Atambaev, then the entire Kyrgyz political elite since 1991 has to go in jail, and even more than once. On the other hand, Atambaev, in the opinion of the expert, pays for crossing a certain line, which neither Akayev nor even Bakiev have done.

"Akayev generally tried (at least on the surface, it is clear that with all transactions and manipulations at closed levels) to transfer the traditions of liberal and law-abiding Western democracy to Kyrgyzstan. This is largely due to the fact that he was a native of the Soviet scientific community. Under Akayev, in my opinion, everything in Kyrgyz politics was decent on the surface, although it was rotting inside. At the same time, Akayev made sure that the "surface" was alright.

Bakiev was clearly associated with corruption and crime, he did not even know how to hide it. But there was a line that he did not cross (by the way, Bakiyev was also convicted after the overthrow, but in fact he lives in exile in Belarus, and they did not turn him in).

Atambayev crossed the line, having begun to openly and massively use the administrative-police apparatus in order to put in jail and intimidate political opponents. Therefore, there is a certain higher justice that Atambayev suffered from the same thing. But Kyrgyzstan's problem is that now the gates that Atambayev opened cannot be closed, ”Andrei Kazantsev told Vestnik Kavkaza.

Director of the Alternativa Center for Topical Studies (Almaty) Andrei Chebotarev said it's a dangerous precedent for the first leaders of the post-Soviet states. "A lot of them have been overthrown since 1992 as a result of military coups and color revolutions, but without such consequences. By the way, on June 30, the trial in the case of Armenia's ex-president Robert Kocharian, accused of trying to overthrow the constitutional order, will resume. If he is sentenced, then the precedent will only intensify. In addition, ex-presidents of Kyrgyzstan, Kurmanbek Bakiev, Ukraine - Viktor Yanukovych and Georgia - Mikheil Saakashvili live quietly in other countries. All this serves as a good lesson for their current and future colleagues from other post-Soviet republics. Although each of them will understand it in its own way. Some will try to act legally as much as possible in the interests of their countries and fellow citizens. While others will choose their successors more carefully and strengthen their own security guarantees for the future," Chebotarev believes.