In an interview given to the BBC and reproduced at Gezitter (via Jany Ordo), Kadyrzhan Batyrov takes a few swings at President Atambaev over the June 2010 violence against Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan and Atambaev’s recent suggestion that Salizhan Sharipov may have plotted with Batyrov to unleash violence in Osh in 2010.
Batyrov played a prominent role in mobilizing groups primarily consisting of ethnic Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan to counter the efforts of pro-Bakiev elites and protesters against the provisional government. Had the violence in June 2010 not happened, odds are decent that Batyrov would be one of the most politically powerful Uzbeks in the country, even with the frequent attacks on him in the Kyrgyz nationalist media. Of course, things did not turn out that way, and the attacks on Batyrov in the lead-up and aftermath of the violence have become part of the accepted narrative of a nefarious ethnic Uzbek plot to establish national autonomy while Kyrgyz were busy fighting among themselves. Batyrov is no angel and he dramatically miscalculated how many Kyrgyz would react to his calls for an enhanced political and social role for Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstani society. However, he is far less a villain than others, such as Melis Myrzakmatov, in southern Kyrgyzstan.
In the BBC interview, Batyrov accuses Atambaev of abandoning him after the June 2010 violence. Batyrov says, as he has in past interviews, that he and Atambaev spoke several times after Bakiev’s April 2010 ouster about working together to improve relations between Uzbek ans Kyrgyz. But he goes on to say that the interim government asked him in May to lay low after he became the target of Kyrgyz nationalists for his role prominent role in leading a rally that burned down Bakiev’s family compound outside of Jalalabad. He said that he stayed near the Kayrakum reservoir near Tajikistan’s border with Kyrgyzstan. A delegation from his Uzbek National Culture Center traveled to Bishkek to meet with Atambaev prior to the outbreak of violence on June 10th. Batyrov says that at that meeting, Atambaev told a member of the delegation that Batyrov needed to stay out of sight just a bit longer, and that he would be welcome to stay in Atambaev’s homes in Moscow or Turkey. But now, Atambaev has joined those blaming Batyrov and other Uzbeks for organizing the violence.
Batyrov makes an especially pointed attack on Atambaev for accusing cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov of having conspired with Batyrov to launch the violence. Batyrov says, “Salizhan raise the flag of Kyrgyzstan, his land, into space. In comparison to him, what great things has Atambaev done? He was busy appointing murderers as ambassadors and generals. What kind of person is he to say such things about Salizhan?”
There is no way that any of this could possibly get airtight confirmation, and Batyrov has as much incentive to exaggerate his closeness to former political allies to get revenge on them for abandoning him. Omurbek Tekebaev has come under fire from Kyrgyz nationalists such as Jyldyz Joldosheva for having worked with Batyrov prior to the June violence. Batyrov say that Uzbeks, who overwhelmingly supported Atambaev in the 2011 presidential election, are mistaken about the president. And this interview attempts to both undercut Uzbek support for Atambaev by accusing him of having abandoned Uzbeks after the Osh violence and to hang Atambaev with a heavy liability among Kyrgyz nationalists. Batyrov knows his reputation is beyond salvaging, but he seems determined to continue to have an impact on politics and society in Kyrgyzstan.