Atambayev out of firing line
Former President Almazbek Atambayev stepped down as chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK) and suspended his membership in the party. Such a decision was dictated by the adoption of amendments to the Law on Guarantees of the President's Activities by the Parliament, which calls for the prosecution of former presidents. According to experts, the current version of the law is more like a tool against Atambayev.
A meeting of the SDPK political council was held in Bishkek recently, during which Atambayev resigned as its chairman and suspended his membership in the party. MP Asel Koduranova was named acting chairman of the SDPK. According to member of the party's political council Adil Turdukulov, such a decision was dictated by the adoption of amendments to the Law on Guarantees of the President's Activities by the Parliament. Kyrgyz politician Ravshan Dzheenbekov explained Vestnik Kavkaza that in accordance with the law, the former head of state, if he is actively involved in politics, being a party member, is deprived of all privileges, including immunity.
The issue of lifting ex-presidents of immunity was first raised by Kyrgyz deputies last year, when an investigation for the accident at the Bishkek Thermal Power Plant was opened. Two former prime ministers - Sapar Isakov and Jantoro Satybaldiev, ex-Energy Minister Osmonbek Artykbayev, former Finance Minister Olga Lavrova, former head of National Energy Holding Aibek Kaliyev and several middle managers are accused of negligence and corruption during the modernization of the thermal power plant. Almazbek Atambayev is accused of corruption, however, according to the Law on Guarantees of the President's Activities adopted earlier, he could not be brought to trial. Then it was decided to amend the law on presidential immunity. Now the authorities have a chance to arrest Atambayev because he is still engaged in political activities.
SDPK is preparing to appeal the changes concerning lifting the ex-president of immunity in the Constitutional Chamber, since the adopted amendments contradict the Constitution and violate human rights, according to SDPK lawyer Nurbek Kasymbekov.
According to Ravshan Dzheenbekov, the withdrawal of immunity is a rather complicated and long procedure. The Parliament has the right to initiate it, prosecutors are to agree. After that, with a two-thirds vote, the status of the ex-president is removed and only after that he can be brought to justice. "Atambayev decided to go into the shadows. But I am sure that he, being an experienced person, upset with his protégé, will stay in politics. Now he has decided not to give a legal reason," Dzheenbekov said. He believes that Atambayev will manage his party as before, participate in political life, but unofficially. "For Kyrgyzstan, it's a normal phenomenon. Many oligarchs are actively engaged in politics. They have created their own parties or are behind some parties. For example, those parties that are represented in the parliament today have their own 'masters', who have led their people to the parliament and let them be there. Politics is not just a public thing. There are very few public politicians in Kyrgyzstan. Many are involved in politics unofficially," Ravshan Dzheenbekov explained.
Director General of the Analytical Center 'Strategy East-West' Dmitry Orlov told Vestnik Kavkaza that Atambayev had just cleverly cleared himself of the line of fire. “And whileKyrgyz deputies and politicians were busy with disputes on various issues, Atambayev did the main thing: he reassembled the SDPK. Maybe his party is smaller now, but only the most motivated left there. I don't know the current number of SDPK members, but even several hundred well-motivated people is very serious for Kyrgyzstan," the expert noted. According to Orlov, if the SDPK continues to operate both online and offline, it may have strong positions in a year. And everyone understands who is its real chairman. Moreover, it will be even easier for the Social Democrats to act, because no one will reproach them with Atambayev’s mistakes.
“Of course, Atambayev cannot make political statements now. On the one hand, it seems to be bad for him. On the other hand, it seems that he has already said everything for now, and everything will work further without his participation. The fact that time does not work for Zheenbekov and the current government works for the benefit of the SDPK. Almost a third of his presidential term is behind, but he has not made any progress. Only those can speak about the growth of GDP who does not know that it can grow, regardless of whether twenty people or two hundred work in the country," Orlov stressed.
A reasonable question arises, if Atambaev's officials, as they say in Kyrgyzstan, were completely incompetent and/or thievish, then why Zheenbekov's officials are also like that? It would seem that one can say: "I am not Atambayev - I am better," and even prove it. However, in fact, according to the expert, respect for the government has declined dramatically, and there are no prospects. “So, if there is an opposition by the next parliamentary elections, it may have good chances. And I really want it to be formed. Because the power cannot be left alone with the people by definition,” Dmitry Orlov said.
According to Ravshan Dzheenbekov, the situation in the camp causes concern. Recently, director of the social research company SIAR Ainura Sagynbayeva presented a study of public sentiment. “For five to six years, people's moods were optimistic. But the latest survey showed an alarming trend, similar to that of 2005 and 2010. That is, people are dissatisfied with power and revolutionary moods are emerging in the country. Political discontent is growing. The anti-corruption company was discredited. The members of Atambayev's team are convicted on corruption charges . There is a selective struggle against corruption, which is politically motivated. The situation is not unique, as it was the case under previous presidents," Dzheenbekov said. He also noted that the rating of the government and the prime minister is the lowest in the entire history of Kyrgyzstan. Ministers resign almost every day. Finance Minister Oleg Pankratov resigned recently. And he was the strongest minister of recent years. If he left, then what can we talk about?" Ravshan Dzheenbekov left his question unanswered.