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.
- 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. ↩
- 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. ↩