Kyrgyzstan: Revolution Revisited
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Organized Crime: Investors and civil society activists have long been concerned by reputed crime bosses' alleged spheres of influence in Kyrgyz government and business.  Along with corruption, fighting organized crime was a government promise seen as critical for securing Kyrgyzstan's economic health, and remains a prominent demand at opposition protest rallies.

PROMISES:

Speaking in Moscow on May 8, 2005, Acting President Bakiyev acknowledged the existence of "criminal elements" in Kyrgyzstan. "It is true that I am not a supporter of using force," he said, Russian news agency Interfax reported. "But in the fight against organized crime and terrorists, I will employ all means that our country possesses."

Six months later, Bakiyev cracked down on law-enforcement structures for having done "no active work to fight crime." Telling a November 21, 2005 session of the National Security Council that "we have made too many declarations concerning fighting organized crime, but no concrete measures have been taken in recent years," he ordered the government to work out a state program on fighting organized crime by December 25, 2005, news outlets reported.

RESULTS:

To date, despite official statements urging a mafia crackdown, no formal government plan for fighting organized crime has been completed. Since March 24, 2005, three members of parliament have been shot dead in attacks attributed to "criminal disputes." (Jyrgalbek Surabaldiev on June 10, Bayaman Erkinbayev on September 22, and Tynychbek Akmatbayev on October 20). After Erkinbayev's assassination, Prime Minister Kulov accused law-enforcement structures of a merger with organized crime. So far, none of these cases has been solved.

In early February 2006, President Bakiyev, however, rejected allegations that Kyrgyzstan is becoming "particularly criminalized," with connivance by government officials, He called public concerns "hysteria."

Calls for a crackdown continued to grow, culminating in an April 29 anti-crime protest march in Bishkek. The march was the largest since the March 24, 2005 uprising. Protestors took issue with the government's alleged failure to combat what they term increased influence by criminal bosses over the country's political and business affairs. Appearing briefly at the protest with Prime Minister Feliks Kulov, President Bakiyev assured the crowd that the government is "working to improve people's lives."

Alleged criminal boss Ryspek Akmatbayev, who has been elected to take the parliamentary seat of his murdered brother, MP Tynychbek Akmatbayev, was the target for much of protestors' outrage. Akmatbayev was killed in early May in a mysterious shooting outside of Bishkek that remains unsolved. His death appeared to remove much of the edge from protestors' demands. A May 27 pro-reform demonstration in Bishkek passed peacefully, with policewomen assigned to distribute flowers to participants.


Watch a News Broadcast of This Promise:
March 24, 2006 press conference by President Kurmanbek Bakiyev
Credit: NTS Television

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