John Daly: Central Asia’s Newest ‘Democrat in Exile’

by Joshua Foust on 7/4/2010 · 12 comments

Reprinted with permission from ISN.

By John CK Daly for ISN Security Watch

In 1938, prior to selling out the Czechs to Hitler, Chamberlain called the Sudeten crisis “a quarrel in a far-away land between peoples of whom we know nothing.”

History is repeating itself. In Eastern Europe and beyond, a second layer of western myopia predates even Russia’s 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, when those fleeing Tsarist Russia and later Lenin’s and Stalin’s regimes were transmogrified into ‘democrats,’ no matter their previous careers. Leon Trotsky, founder of the Red Army, a man with the blood of millions on his hands, spent time in Britain, as did Stalin, one of the greatest butchers of the 20th century, while Lenin spent the years 1902-1905 in London and made another five visits before 1917.

These twin British traits of ignorance and wishful thinking outlasted the 1991 collapse of the USSR. The latest ‘democratic’ thug from the post-Soviet space to emerge seeking asylum in Britain is Maxim Bakiyev, the avaricious son of ousted Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

Appointed head last October of Kyrgyzstan’s Central Agency for Development, Investment and Innovations, Maxim’s blatant thievery led Kyrgyzstan’s provisional government to charge him with embezzlement and abuse of authority.

Three days after southern Kyrgyzstan erupted Bakiyev flew from Latvia to a small British airport mainly used by business jet companies, near Farnborough in Hampshire, on 13 June and immediately applied for asylum, claiming he could not get a fair trial in his home country.

Bakiyev hired the eminent British firm of Carter-Ruck Solicitors to represent him. The firm stated: “Mr. Bakyiev was screened in accordance with normal procedures for port of entry asylum claims, and then granted temporary admission pending the consideration of his claim.”

Two other Kyrgyz exiles from former President Bakiyev’s inner circle – former National Security Service chief Murat Sutalinov and former Prime Minister Igor Chudinov – have also apparently fled to Britain.

On 6 May, Interpol circulated an arrest warrant for Maxim Bakiyev, which had been issued by Bishkek’s Pervomai district court on fraud charges. The Kyrgyz Prosecutor General’s Office charged ‘the prince’ with embezzling $35 million from a $300 million Russian loan and giving the remainder to his financial confidante Evgeny Gurevich, a naturalized US citizen from Kyrgyzstan, to dabble in the stock market.

Gurevich directed Kyrgyzstan’s Asia Universal Bank for 2006-2009, under Bakiyev’s control. AUB remains Kyrgyzstan’s largest commercial bank, handling more than half of the republic’s budget, including salaries of public sector employees, compulsory insurance programs, retirement savings and loans.

On 9 March, the Italian media reported that Judge Aldo Mordzhini in Rome had issued an arrest warrant for Gurevich on charges of embezzling $2.7 billion from Italian telecom companies, money laundering and ties to the Mafia. Only after the story broke did the Bakiyev administration cut its ties with Gurevich and the MGN group.

According to Natsional’nyi bank Kyrgyzstana Acting Chairman Zair Chokoev, during the 7-8 April unrest that culminated in the overthrow of the Bakiyev regime, the AUB sent $200 million out of the country before government officials were able to shut down the bank’s servers. AUB has since been nationalized. Besides Maxim, Carter-Ruck Solicitors are representing Gurevich as well.

Former interim government chief of staff Edil Baisalov said in a statement that “English courts must view Maxim Bakiyev as an international terrorist. He has the money. He has the resources. He has the will. He has the ability to destroy the state of Kyrgyzstan.”

The AUB incident certainly indicates that he has the fiscal wherewithal to foment unrest.

On 13 May, supporters of former president Bakiyev seized control of government buildings in Osh, Jalal-Abad and Batken, with the interim government re-establishing control a day later. Bolstering Bishkek’s claims of the Bakiyev clan fomenting unrest in the country’s volatile southern regions, on 19 May an audio recording was posted anonymously on YouTube with a captions identifying the voices as those of Bakiyev’s son Maxim and his uncle Janybek, former head of Kyrgyzstan’s State Security Service.

The MMS media audio file conversation recording was initially sent to the American University in Central Asia’s Center for Central Asian Studies from a Kyrgyz number registered to an employee of the US Embassy in Kyrgyzstan and then posted on YouTube. The US Embassy has denied any involvement.

The tape purportedly details Maxim Bakiyev and President Bakiyev’s brother, Janysh, who still remains at large in southern Kyrgyzstan, discussing plans to arm groups to spread chaos across the south of Kyrgyzstan in June, seeking 500 “bastards” to foment unrest.

Kyrgyzstan’s State Security Service head Keneshbek Duishebaev asserts that after fleeing the US in early April, where he had gone to attend an investment seminar, Maxim subsequently met with Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan representatives in Dubai while Janysh brokered deals with Afghan Taliban and Tajik fighters, commenting: “The transfer of militants to the south of the republic was made on the eve of the June events from Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province via Tajikistan’s Khorog and Murghab districts. Cooperation in transferring [militants] was made by a former Tajik opposition commander and drug baron, whose contact was Janysh Bakiyev.”

Harper’s Magazine Scott Horton in a recent interview with Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman has also delineated Janysh’s role in distributing firearms in and around Jalal-Abad prior to the disturbances.

Kyrgyz provisional government deputy leader Azimbek Beknazarov observed in a statement: “England never gives up people who arrive on its territory. But since England and the US fight terrorism and the arrangement with the airbase is one of the elements of that fight, then they must give over Maxim Bakiyev” before warning that the interim government would consider shutting the Manas Transit Center airbase used by the US if Britain refused to surrender Bakiyev.

The Manas airbase is a critical link in the ISAF’s coalition forces campaign in Afghanistan. By providing sanctuary to Bakiyev, Britain is not only undercutting its democratic values but putting British and other ISAF troops at risk. The US government certainly understands the stakes, as on 25 June the Senate unanimously approved a resolution calling for a “full and fair” investigation into the ethnic clashes in Kyrgyzstan.

London should accordingly expedite Bakiyev’s asylum request as quickly as possible and then send him home to face justice, an option denied to over 2,000 Kyrgyz killed in the June unrest by the thugs that Bakiyev’s dirty money bought.

Maxim Bakiyev is many things, but a newly-minted Democrat he is not. On 27 June, despite the recent unrest, the provisional government held a constitutional referendum, monitored by hundreds of international observers, which was overwhelmingly supported by voters.

If the West is serious about supporting democratic values in Kyrgyzstan, then it should return Maxim for a “full and fair” investigation as soon as possible rather than let him and his British high-priced legal team obfuscate the issue for months on end, as Kyrgyzstan currently has no extradition treaty with Britain.

Dr John CK Daly is a non-resident Fellow at John Hopkins Central Asia-Caucasus Institute in Washington, DC.


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– author of 1848 posts on Registan.net.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 12 comments }

Christian July 4, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Well, skipping past the totally gratuitous Hitler-Chamberlain reference… this passage should be taken with a rather high level of skepticism:

“Kyrgyzstan’s State Security Service head Keneshbek Duishebaev asserts that after fleeing the US in early April, where he had gone to attend an investment seminar, Maxim subsequently met with Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan representatives in Dubai while Janysh brokered deals with Afghan Taliban and Tajik fighters, commenting: “The transfer of militants to the south of the republic was made on the eve of the June events from Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province via Tajikistan’s Khorog and Murghab districts. Cooperation in transferring [militants] was made by a former Tajik opposition commander and drug baron, whose contact was Janysh Bakiyev.””

Isn’t Duishebaev the guy that has since denied that he said this? Or am I thinking of someone else? Anyways, this whole passage is rather silly regardless… the only things missing are Chechens and Illuminati.

As for Manas, if it so critical, why was the US willing to walk away from it last year? And how is it that NATO yawned/shrugged and transferred stuff through the Persian gulf while Manas was shut down during the violence? Manas is convenient, but not critical.

Also [citation needed] x27

Dilshod July 5, 2010 at 1:02 am

Yeah, I stilll believe there are few things the KG intelligency chief could have mentioned viz. Osama bin Laden, Zionists and Ahmadinejad and the picture of global conspiracy would be full and round.
Though I do strongly believe in association , masterminding of the events, by Bakievs, there’s another issue we are facing here and it is about lift of responsibility. Interim government is obviously trying to write off everything to Bakievs bill and emerge as innocent. This makes me sick.

Matthew July 5, 2010 at 9:40 am

I would worry than sending Maxim back to Kyrgyzstan might potentially bring about further violence. Plus, to be honest, however good the intentions of the new government, I’m still rather skeptical that a truly “free and fair” investigation can take place. Maxim’s case might be a candidate for one of the international courts, perhaps (though that would likely irk Russia, who would denounce it as further Western meddling in the region). All in all, in spite of the questionable accuracy of several points, Daly makes a worthwhile general argument that Western governments shouldn’t be so quick to accept self-proclaimed “democrats” without carefully investigating their backgrounds.

Nick July 5, 2010 at 5:48 pm

I agree with most of what has been written in comment on this piece, but especially what Christian noted about the lack of references.

For example, a quick gander at wikipedia would have revealed that under the terms of the Extradition Act 2003 (UK), there are plenty of countries to which the UK is not obliged to extradite people: China (PRC), most of Africa, most of the Middle East and, relevant to the this case, none of the Central Asian republics. [Full text here.]

Rod July 6, 2010 at 8:32 am

@ Christian: speaking of references, can you show us where it was cited that the US was so willing to walk away from the Manas airbase last year? As I recall, the US still wanted it to the extent that it agreed to pay (and is paying) higher rent. And I would say that although it may not be ‘critical’, it is still significantly more than merely ‘convenient’ for the US.

@ Dilshod: although the interim govt can spin it, and admittedly their control and management of the south has been shown to be poor, the fact remains that the Bakiyevs have a vested interest in fomenting the unrest. I believe time will prove without a doubt that the Bakiyevs are largely responsible. This doesn’t mean that the interim govt is as white as snow, but we should assign blame where blame is due.

@ Nick: not to be picky, but of course you meant ‘any/all’ (not ‘none’) of the Central Asian republics, didn’t you? I mean, that would fit the rest of your statement prior.

Christian July 6, 2010 at 12:14 pm

“Willing” as in willing to walk away from what they considered an unreasonable increase in fees demanded. There are dozens of statements by DoD, State and random Congress folks on alternatives in Turkey, Central Asia, eastern Europe, the Persian Gulf and within Afghanistan regarding how they could compensate for the loss of Manas. Once the willingness (and ability) to leave was demonstrated, Bakiev’s demands came down.

Citations? Maybe I followed the Manas negotiations with an unhealthy interest last year, or maybe I’m making all of this up.

Kuda July 6, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Christian,

Regarding the dozens of statements, during any ‘negotiation’ wouldn’t one expect each side to issue ‘You need us’ ‘We don’t need you’ type statements?

I felt that the US really DID want to stay at Manas. The US govt.’s fairly well-publicised refusal to meet with (then) opposition leaders, the fueling arrangement and the tacit acceptance of the Bakiev leadership in general led me to feel that they wanted to keep on good terms with the power brokers and stay in Krygyzstan.

And they did.

An open question for you.

Dilshod’s below ’emotional’ comments aside, he spoke about K2 in UZ. I thought the US were thrown out then after voicing ‘too’ much about Andijon – but don’t know the full story.

You said you followed Manas negotiations last year, do you think that the US does still want/need a presence in CA? And if so, for what purpose? To support Afghanistan or wider geoploitics?

knownunknown July 6, 2010 at 11:47 am

It is English judges that will decide whether to extradite, not ‘Britain’. If they feel that he wont get a fair trial or he could be tortured or executed, he wont be extradited and no ammount of geo- politics will change that. I think they often get the balance wrong, protecting the rights of the alleged criminal over the victims, but at least our courts are independent. It is still embarrassing that Britain is the destination of choice of fleeing oligarchs, dictators and gangsters.

Nick July 6, 2010 at 12:51 pm

knownunknown: ‘t is still embarrassing that Britain is the destination of choice of fleeing oligarchs, dictators and gangsters.’

To a point, Lord Copper. There is still the wonderful precedent of the case of the late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet to consider, who was arrested by British authorities and, although later released on grounds of ill-health, returned to Chile to stand trial.

Dilshod July 6, 2010 at 2:30 pm

@Rod
Are you trying to say the IG had a good excuse??? In 20 years, the story repeats and Kyrgyzs still have a good excuse for mass killings and ethnic cleansing…
And regarding the base, this unique, sui generis infrastructure… I tell you what – it took no time for the US military to close a whole airbase and leave, I mean K2. And still it wasn’t a big tragedy. So, if I were you I would be less confident about its “conveniency” now. Times are different, so are the doctrines.

tictoc July 13, 2010 at 3:16 am

On June 15, 2009, the Manas air base commander announced that they had started shutting down the base and would be out by the deadline. Clearly, the US was showing that it was willing to walk away from the base. By July 7, 2009, a new deal was announced that allowed the air base’s operations to continue, but with a new name and reportedly for a total compensation package of $180 million. An Associated Press article (http://eng.24.kg/digest/244) reports that the total compensation package for the airbase at Manas was $150 million in 2008. So, yes, technically the “rent” went up, but it seems like the deal was structured in a way that allowed the Kyrgyz government to boast that they’d gotten three times the previous “rent”, without actually getting a threefold increase in total compensation. Also, it’s actually difficult to calculate whether or not there’s a real increase in compensation since the $180 million figure seems to include one-time payment of $66 million for upgrades to the airport (which would also benefit the air base’s operations).

Alexander Maydanov July 13, 2010 at 7:32 am

Gulnara Karimova for the next time became the newsmaker of some information space. According to some rumours filtered from her surrounding, in particular, from the company “Bella Terra”, elder daughter of the Uzbek leader will be married for the next time and she has already got blessings from her parents. The next husband of Gulnara Karimova will be Rustam Madumarov, who is mostly well-known as pop-singer under the pseudonym of DADO. In general, Gulnara Karimova lives with Rustam Madumarov in civil marriage for a long time, and this marriage were repeatedly broken off because her numerous entertainments with other men.

Gulnara Karimova is already 40 years old, and, naturally, she has thought about her social status. Her impetuous love affairs with numerous men, among who were Russian oligarch – Iskander Makhmudov, Uzbek film star – Farrukh Saipov, former world champion on professional boxing Ruslan Chagayev, some Arabian sheikh and casual contacts had been finished not on her own desire. And they could not stand anymore such woman with extravagant, cruel, rancorous and insatiable character. Leaving such men, Gulnara Karimova did everything she could in order to turn their lives into the hell. For example, access of Iskander Makhmudov into the Uzbek metal market was denied, and his relative who lives in Bukhara region of Uzbekistan, had been persecuted in a spirit of Stalin. The entrance into the screens of movie theatres for the actor Farrukh Saipov was closed.

But the most negative resonance among Uzbek population caused the actions of Gulnara Karimova in relation to Ruslan Chagayev – the proud of Uzbek boxing who had defeated seemingly invincible Alexander Valuyev in 2007 and at last became world champion in prestigious weight category among professional boxers. After Ruslan Chagayev’s sensational victory, Islam Karimov made the national hero from this modest guy. And this was deservedly. Admirers of Uzbek sport became very glad about that. But unfortunately for them, Gulnara Karimova paid her attention to stately and charming guy. At the beginning she exploited his image at the interest of her Forum Fund. Then the sexual exploitation took place. Ruslan Chagayev who had loving wife and children had to spend all the time with this lady. But when Gulnara Karimova proposed him to leave his family and get marriage with her, Chagayev decided to send off his family secretly to Germany and to stay there in permanent residence.

The present favorite and for the present time, Gulnara Karimova’s husband – Rustam Madumarov before the acquaintance with her worked as a mechanic in the garment factory “Uchkun”, he was graduated from Tashkent Technological Technical School. With the monarch lady Madumarov acquainted at the beginning of 2000’s, when he had appeared on stage with music group DADO. The tenacious lady did not let this guy go and then the young guy became his civil husband. From that moment carrier of the actor was successful. Madumarov left the faculty of business and business administration of the Russian branch of Plekhanov Economy Academy in Tashkent. He founded recording studio and was musical producer. Under the influence of Gulnara Karimova Madumarov held business and later acquired the reputation of the man, who deceives his partners. Some construction and commercial companies did not get money from him for their operations and goods were supplied for solid sums. It was useless to complain. Karimova’s favorite felt himself almighty.

After numerous unlucky love affairs which took place practically in the eyes of this “boy for pleasure” Gulnara Karimova decided to choose Madumarov in her declining years and proposed him to be her husband. And that boy, who knows about all her love affairs and orgies, had the courage to refuse her. Revenge was immediate and cruel. Business of Madumarov (recording studios, restaurants and boutiques) were subjected to check by prosecutor’s offices and then was closed. Rustam Madumarov’s brothers – Alisher and Sherzod spent some weeks in the detention center of the Central Department of Internal Affairs of Tashkent City. And DADO itself immediately left Uzbekistan and led a dull miserable life in Moscow. Being aware of all the absence of any prospect of his further existence and repenting his own male pride, Madumarov came to Gulnara Karimova. Uzbeks have а proverb: «А sword does not cut а bending head». All the more so, if it has “branchy horns”. Karimova generously forgave her prodigal friend and in the near future the wedding will be in the French health resort Courchebel. May be, Islam Karimov at last will get his own “Rakhat Aliyev”.

In described events there is a notable moment. Islam Karimov dislikes Tajikistan and Tajiks. But, you know that he is Tajik himself and he remains Tajik at the bottom of his heart, although he thoroughly conceals it. And Karimov gave his blessings to the wedding of the daughter because the future son-in-law is the same as he is himself. The son-in-law is Tajik who was born in another country as it chanced.

Alexander Maydanov

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