Kyrgyz MP Claims to Unearth New Uzbek Plot

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by Nathan Hamm on 4/5/2012 · 6 comments

Jyldyz Joldosheva, a member of Kyrgyzstan’s parliament and of the nationalist Ata-Jurt party, continues to claim knowledge of well-financed plots by Uzbeks to attack Kyrgyzstan. Last April, Joldosheva claimed that wealthy Uzbek nationalists and separatists had financed the publication and distribution of book and video called Hour of the Jackal that accused the Kyrgyz of genocide. Though she claimed 400,000 copies of the book had been distributed for free in Russia, she claimed to have the only copy in Kyrgyzstan. She further said that the books had been published in Finland and might have been connected to Kimmo Kiljunen, the Finnish head of the international commission that investigated the Osh violence.1

Joldosheva, again claiming to have unearthed a potential plot against Kyrgyzstan by virtue of her position as a parliamentarian, now says that a group called the Congress of Uzbeks or Congress of Uzbeks and Uzbekistan met in Moscow on March 23 and named Kadyrzhan Batyrov its honorary president and Salizhan Sharipov as its president.2 She says that the organization raised 3.5 million rubles, for, well… something. All she knows, she said, is that Batyrov is a separatist and that Sharipov… well, she cannot say anything certain about him. But she did call on the government, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the National Security Committee to get on investigating this organization and what it is up to.

Batyrov, the exiled Uzbek businessman and community leader from Jalal-Abad who was convicted in absentia of planning clashes during the June 2010 ethnic violence, is the bogeyman at the center of many conspiracy theories concerning Uzbek separatism, and Joldosheva named him as responsible last year when she created a furor over Hour of the Jackal. Sharipov, originally from Uzgen, is Kyrgyzstan’s first cosmonaut, and has received state honors and titles from Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, according to his biography on Wikipedia.

Sharipov is livid over Joldosheva’s insinuation that he is somehow involved in a shadowy separatist plot as the leader of a group of which no one but her has ever heard. In his response to the accusations, he confirms that he purchased stock in a company from Batyrov. He says that this transaction took place prior to legal actions against Batyrov and his property. Back in February, the issue of Sharipov owning property formerly registered to Batyrov was raised in parliament, and President Atambaev suggested in a meeting in Osh that Sharipov, as a result of this transaction with Batyrov, might have been involved in the planning of the ethnic violence in June 2010.

There is not much to say about the substance of Joldosheva’s claims besides that there is little evidence to support them. There is as much to suggest the existence of this Congress of Uzbeks as there is for her claim of that hundreds of thousands of copies of books slandering the Kyrgyz people were printed in Finland and distributed around Russia. It does not matter that Sharipov is a Hero of Kyrgyzstan, honored on Kyrgyz postage, or anything else. This vignette illustrates the reasons to be pessimistic about Kyrgyzstan discussed earlier this week. Sharipov forgot that in the current climate, the acceptable way to accomplish a large property transfer is to not be Uzbek and have a group of jigits at your back. Nobody in Kyrgyzstan’s political establishment has any reason to try to change the situation. And that Atambaev is now playing the game of reckless, racist speculation, paving the way for more toxic actors like Joldosheva, it is hard to expect anything but increasing isolation, alienation, and abuse of Kyrgyzstan’s Uzbeks.

  1. It is unclear if the book ever actually existed, though the videos do. They have since been dubbed into English: Part 1 and Part 2.
  2. As should be expected with a Joldosheva conspiracy theory, the details are not entirely clear nor are they consistent across reports. Two that I am pulling from here are by Vechernii Bishkek and Barakelde. They give different names for the organization and one suggests it is a new organization. Vechernii Bishkek seems to be giving a direct quotation while Barakelde paraphrases. It is safe to assume that this is a result of the fact that Joldosheva has tended in the past to provide more insinuation and implication than clear statements about supposed separatist plots.

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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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Sarah Kendzior April 6, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Interestingly, the Uzbek state press used Sharipov as an example of how an Uzbek can be a hero to multiple nations when they were writing articles smearing Alisher Saipov. They went as far to title an article “Saipov is no Sharipov”:

Nathan Hamm April 6, 2012 at 4:22 pm

I haven’t dug too deeply, but I cannot understand why there would be much reason to go after Sharipov when he seems fairly uninterested in Kyrgyz politics. A point I am fairly certain I neglected to make clearly was that the fact that such a wide range of politicians are willing to go after him underlines the scariest point of ICG’s report on ethnic divisions in Kyrgyzstan — that the narrative of Uzbek blame is almost universally accepted.

Sarah Kendzior April 7, 2012 at 7:45 am

I think it’s because Sharipov is an ethnic Uzbek hero of Kyrgyzstan – a position which complicates the racist national narrative that is currently being promoted. Sharipov’s appeal was never predicated on his ethnicity – but his ethnicity was never played down, either. I think he reminds people of a more peaceful time, of a brand of patriotism not fueled by prejudice. When you run on an agenda that Uzbek-Kyrgyz relationships have always been bad, figures like Sharipov are a great inconvenience.

M April 7, 2012 at 11:58 pm

Agreed – something like Karl Rove style politics – attack from your weakness to your opponent’s strength. In this case, the ‘weakness’ is evidence of an Uzbek separatist plot, and the ‘strength’ is any legitimate Uzbek public figure in Kyrgyzstan.

Chris R April 6, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Atambayev’s dabblings in ethnic politics are indeed scary stuff, and can be roughly compared to imprudent statements about Russian bases. He first slandered Sharipov at a meeting in Osh state university, but if he thinks he’s going to shore up the south with a few anti-Uzbek statements then he is more of an idiot than people say.

I rememer seeing a press reel where Joldosheva – Dame Edna to the outside world – ‘revaled’ the copies of Hour of the Jackal, but that doesn’t mean to say she didn’t get them printed herself.

Even if Sharipov has ties has to Batyrov, what did Batyrov do? He held rallies where ‘nationalist’ issues such as the status of the Uzbek languague and people were raised. Admittedly, not very wise given the political climate, but Tashiev is doing the same in Kyrgyz every other week.

That Atambayev is some way short of the great statesman a few said he would be can be seen by the fact that his press sec. spends half his time calling and writing to news agencies to do damage limitation. At themoment he is trying to show a different face to every audience. But someone in his team should advise him that multi-vector public speaking is a dumb idea when mass communications allow everyone to be listening all the time.

M April 8, 2012 at 12:02 am

Agreed. He would be loathe to forget that he got essentially full Uzbek support in the south during the presidential election, and if he turns his back on them entirely, where else could they turn? Uzbekistan?

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