'Kyrgyzgate' gaining momentum
President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbai Jeenbekov convened a meeting of the Security Council. The main issue to be considered at the next meeting is corruption. On Monday, a civil anti-corruption rally 'ReAction' was held in Bishkek, attended by more than a thousand people. The protesters demanded the resignation of the law enforcement chiefs, the arrest of corrupt officials and reforms.
An anti-corruption rally was held at Ala-Too central square in central Bishkek. The action was organized by public activists, but not authorized by the authorities. The protests came after the investigative report by Kyrgyz journalists about gray schemes at customs, the withdrawal of $700 million from the republic and a transnational criminal group operating in the republic for more than 10 years. According to the authors of the report, several former and current officials were involved in these schemes.
The demonstrators chanted slogans: 'Power to the people', 'Thieves belong in jail', 'Real reforms', demanding to hold responsible former deputy head of Kyrgyzstan's customs service Raimbek Matraimov, who is one of the main persons involved in the scandalous investigation of the Radio Azattyk journalists (RFE/RL) andKloop.kg. The protesters also demand the resignation of senior security officials - the heads of the State Committee for National Security, the ACN (Anti-Corruption Service), the State Service for Combatting Economic Crimes and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The investigation, published on November 22, provides evidence and documents from a Uyghur businessman, a Chinese citizen, on smuggled money and goods from China through Kyrgyzstan to Russia and further to Europe, as well as on corruption in Kyrgyzstan. The reason for the publicity of the scheme was a disagreement with another Uyghur clan, also led by a native of China, a Uyghur Habibul Abudakadir. Abdukadyr's corruption schemes involved Kyrgyz official Raimbek Matraimov, who was his right hand. The investigation mentions names of other politicians as well, including President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, who at that time was head of the Osh region. At the disposal of Radio Azattyk were documents on the transfer of large funds through the accounts of Aierken Saimaiti. However, Saimaiti did not manage to transfer all the documents he had. On November 10, he was demonstratively shot dead in a cafe in central Istanbul.
"It’s already impossible to tolerate systemic corruption, the country is mired in corruption. These are construction corruption, the mining mafia, the mafia clans seized all the power. They (the authorities) use the law in their own interests. The security forces do not engage in state security, but engaged in hunting for civil activists instead," member of the Central Electoral Commission of Kyrgyzstan Gulnara Dzhurabaev said at the rally. According to her, the initiators of the rally intend to sign a resolution with their requirements and send it to the parliament and the president of the country. "If there is no reaction from the authorities, the participants are likely to gather for a second rally within a month," she noted.
Member of the Kyrgyz parliament Dastan Bekeshev, who came to support the protesters, believes that "it is necessary to change all the heads of law enforcement agencies, because the investigation based on the materials of a journalistic report has been opened, but it's a big question how they will conduct it." "The issue of corruption in the customs system, as indicated in the journalistic investigation, will be unambiguously discussed in parliament," the deputy noted.
The issue of corruption will be considered at the next meeting of the Security Council, which will be attended by the president. Security Council Secretary Damir Sagynbayev did not specify an exact date. According to him, preliminary gathering of information is still underway.
Raim Matraimov himself insists that he is maligned - he promised to answer questions from law enforcement agencies.
Damir Sagynbaev has already said that Matraimov "may be interrogated by the State Committee for National Security" and may be put on the international wanted list because he left Kyrgyzstan with his family for Dubai. This information was confirmed by his brother, MP Iskender Matraimov. In particular, he promised that Raimbek Matraimov was ready to come from abroad to Kyrgyzstan and answer questions.
According to Kyrgyz political analyst Mars Sariev,investigation into the causes of the murder of Aierken Saimaiti will unravel the tangle of his ties with people from Kyrgyzstan. He explained the appearance of new names in this story as follows: "At first, Aierken Saimaiti was mainly associated with Raimbek Matraimov. Now the names of such politicians as Altynbek Sulaimanov, Duyshon Torokulov, Erkin Sopokov and Torobay Zulpukarov came up. And now all this can turn into a huge 'Kyrgyzgate', like the Watergate scandal that erupted in the United States.
"The current rally is an important indicator of how attitudes were changing in the country. Those authorities that must fight corruption - parliament, government, executive power, law enforcement agencies only give the appearance of this fight. There's no more hope that corruption will be defeated which the people had when Sooronbai Jeenbekov came to power. People don’t want to wait until the new presidential election in 2023. Young people now have two ways: demanding change here and now or leaving the country," head of the Committee for the Protection of Freedom of Speech Adil Turdukulov told Vestnik Kavkaza.
Mars Sariev told Vestnik Kavkaza that the current rally resembles the rallies that have been tried and tested in Armenia, Georgia and Ukraine. They bet on the urban part of the country's population. Jeenbekov has no other option but to arrest Matraimov, dismiss security officials and other officials who are smeared with corruption. Otherwise, the country will be swamped with rallies, and taking into account the upcoming parliamentary elections, scheduled for October 4, 2020, global players will take advantage of the situation. According to Sariev, the West is playing against Jeenebekov. The situation is complicated by the fact that Sooronbai Jeenbekov is delaying the signing of a new cooperation agreement with the United States. The 1993 cooperation agreement was terminated by Almazbek Atambayev in 2015. In addition, Kyrgyzstan supports Russia's position on Crimea and China's position on Taiwan.