Nuance in Bishkek

by Nathan Hamm on 4/24/2007

Erkindik & Ala-Tau MountainsGovernment officials in Kyrgyzstan deny that they are persecuting the opposition. Seizures of entire print runs of opposition newspapers and the arrest and questioning of opposition leaders has nothing to do with persecuting opponents of the government, you see. It’s really all part of a “fight against criminality.”

“It is not right to call it ‘political persecution.’ We need to learn to live in the framework of the law,” Madumarov said. “Society now is like that. If you start fighting criminality, they call it a persecution. Those people who were named [as victims of persecution] are prominent Kyrgyz personalities. They are well aware of the constitution and the law. They are capable of using their minds, I suppose, to prove their innocence in accordance with the laws and the constitution.”

I, for one, applaud the Kyrgyz government for its newfound interest in following the law and punishing criminals. I certainly hope that they devote significant resources to investigating what, in my humble opinion as one who is interested in seeing a more democratic and law-bound Kyrgyzstan, was a quite severe violation of law and proper procedures a few nights ago.

Kyrgyzstan’s media ombudsman Shamaral Maychiev said an investigator from the National Security Committee, GKNB, had confiscated both the print-runs of the newspapers and electronic copies on computer disk.

“According to the media law, computer disks can only be seized with a court order. A criminal case must have been launched before items can be confiscated, and I suspect the prosecutor’s office opened a criminal case the day before so as to justify the seizures. However, they have ignored media legislation which bans seizure without a court order,” Maychiev said.

Medetbek Saliev, head of the GKNB’s investigations unit, said, “I can’t give you an explanation why this happened without a court order.”

I trust that we can expect Mr. Saliev to be seized for questioning by those who share Mr. Madumarov’s earnest interest in cracking down on rampant criminality.

More seriously though, I think Azamat gets it pretty much right. Many of the well-known faces in Kyrgyz politics are fairly disappointing.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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