The alleged killer of Medet Sadyrkulov has been found dead in his prison cell, AKIpress reports. A former Bakiyev confidant and chief-of-staff, Sadyrkulov was killed in a fiery, late-night car accident last March. He was returning to Bishkek from Almaty, where he reportedly met with opposition members.
Police said Omurbek Osmonov crashed into Sadyrkulov’s car. The ensuing fire burned the bodies of Sadyrkulov, his driver, and policy adviser Sergei Slepchenko beyond recognition. Mysteriously, Sadyrkulov's driver was found in the passenger seat. Forensic investigators later confirmed their identities.
Further fueling rumor, the car was found on a road far from the Almaty-Bishkek route.
Osomonov, who was serving a 12-year sentence for the deaths, was found with 11 stab wounds on April 17, his lawyer said. At the time of his arrest and confession, many thought he was a pawn in an elaborate cover up.
Opposition politicians say the suspicious circumstances surrounding Sadyrkulov’s death suggest that he was likely the victim of a political assassination.
Sadyrkulov, who was known as "the gray cardinal" of Kyrgyz politics, resigned as chief-of-staff in January. Opposition leaders said he had been planning to support their campaign to remove Bakiyev from office.
Turkmen civil society activists are suffering for collaborating with foreign agent provocateur Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), says the World Alliance for Citizen Participation, CIVICUS. MSF closed its last Turkmenistan programs in December after ten years of frustrations and government obstructions. Earlier this month, MSF released a report criticizing “Turkmenistan's Opaque Health System” for refusing to confront the reality of tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
During its ten years providing medical care in the country, MSF has witnessed how people’s lives are put at risk by everyday medical negligence and widespread hazardous medical practices, with blood transfusions frequently performed without screening for HIV or Hepatitis C. Healthcare workers are operating in a culture of fear with critically ill patients being turned away so as not to negatively impact sensitive statistics on maternal or infant mortality, or communicable disease. People in Turkmenistan are being failed by a healthcare system more concerned with its image abroad than with tackling the real threat to public health posed by infectious disease.
CIVICUS says that, since the report was released, authorities have begun interrogating anyone who may have helped MSF and has closed organizations – such as the Central Skin and Venereal Diseases Hospital, Center for Tuberculosis Prevention, National Center for prevention of AIDS – that were once linked to MSF.
On April 19, 2010, hundreds of squatters attacked Meskhetian Turks living in nearby villages, reportedly seeking to take over farm plots. In Maevka, locals said that 28 out of 80 Meskhetian homes were attacked, some burned to the ground. Riot police dispatched to Maevka arrested 130 marauders late that evening, local media outlets reported.
In his first appearance in Belarusian exile, former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has denied he quit last week, AP reports:
He told reporters Wednesday in Minsk that he is still "the legitimate president of Kyrgyzstan," and described the interim government controling Bishkek as a "gang of imposters."
As the interim government struggles to exert control, Bakiyev's defiance may stoke more instability, especially in his home region of Jalal-Abad where his supporters say they have appointed their own pro-Bakiyev governor.
Bakiyev was run out of Bishkek in a wave of violence that claimed at least 85 lives on April 7. Interim leader Roza Otunbayeva says he faxed a letter of resignation last week. See the letter here.
A Kyrgyz government official could not confirm the arrest, but interim government Chief of Staff Edil Baisalov told me this morning that, "We knew he was here in Bishkek until very recently. Obviously he is wanted by Italian authorities, but he is also wanted by us and he is a US citizen, so it is a very complicated situation."
Gourevitch is wanted in Italy for conspiring to defraud a telecoms company of $2.7 billion. He is close to Maxim Bakiyev, the former president's son. The two are accused of embezzling millions of dollars from the state Development Fund.
Maria Muvazova's Dungan Kitchen in Naryn, Kyrgyzstan
Don’t judge Maria Muvazova’s cooking by the temperature in her unheated dining room. Because as soon as you try her spicy noodle laghman stew, you are spoiled; the glacial air merely a memory.
I’ve eaten a lot of laghman in Central Asia: some good, some boring. But during a recent laghman odyssey through highland Kyrgyzstan, none of this prepared me for Maria’s Dungan Kitchen in Naryn.
Bedecked with photoshopped posters of deserted and effervescent Chinese temples in a verdant spring, Muvazova’s restaurant offers two standard dishes to wash down with tea: cold ashlyam-fu and piping-hot laghman.
Laghman originated over the border in China, most Kyrgyz will admit, but has become a staple of the local diet. The vitamin-enhanced broth of onions, garlic, pickled red bell peppers, turnips, tomato paste and spices, fortified with beef or lamb (though elsewhere I have suspected other meats can be substituted), is poured over thick, yellow wheat noodles, much like the lo mein found in American Chinese restaurants.
Considering the outside temperature of minus 22 Celsius at lunchtime, and the threat of freezer burn inside, my party and I all opted for the laghman. The extra doses of spicy red pepper “laza” paste produced a healthy sniffle, unfastening the icicles on my moustache.
Bring a bib.
‘Dungan,’ a Russian word, describes Muslim people of ethnic Chinese descent, as opposed to groups such as the Uyghur, who speak a language related to Turkish.
Naryn has 25 Dungan families says Muvazova, herself an ethnic Dungan born and raised in Naryn. The Dungan language “is as close to Chinese as Kyrgyz, Uzbek and Kazakh are to each other,” she says, alternating her speech between Kyrgyz and Russian.
Dungans make up approximately 50,000 of Kyrgyzstan’s five million-odd inhabitants.
Political instability is encouraging inter-ethnic hostility in Kyrgyzstan. Some Bishkek schools and shops closed on April 20, a day after a pogrom shattered the peace in a suburb of the Kyrgyz capital. Some non-Kyrgyz residents are now saying they want to leave the Central Asian country.
Novosti-Kazakhstan quotes Almazbek Atambayev, Kyrgyzstan’s new interim deputy for economic affairs, as suggesting that Kyrgyzstan would like to join the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus.
“We have a common past with Kazakhstan and Russia and naturally our future will be with them in the single economic space,” he said.
Is Kyrgyzstan tilting towards Moscow?
Commentators say Kyrgyzstan’s membership in the WTO is incompatible with membership in the Customs Union.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin recently used the Customs Union as an excuse to bump tariffs on gasoline sold to Kyrgyzstan by 100 percent. Many analysts believe the Customs Union is simply a tool to further Moscow’s interests.
Interesting this defense of nepotism should come as Central Asian leaders are on edge following the unrest in Bishkek, which was caused in large part by President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's relentless nepotism and corruption.
The head of the Strategic Research Center under the Tajik President, Suhrob Sharipov, said President Emomali Rahmon has the right to appoint relatives to senior posts if they have the qualifications, Asia-Plus reported on April 15.
"Family links have always been used and will be used in Tajikistan. We have such a mentality that relatives try to be close to each other. Family links will always be used in our country by everyone no matter who is in power."
Sharipov said the reason nepotism isn't so prevalent in western democracies is because of "demographic problems," as Asia-Plus put it, and because families often live scattered apart.
He does get one thing right, which should give President Rahmon some pause:
"When Askar Akayev was Kyrgyz president, he was accused of appointing his relatives to high state posts and was ousted because of this. Today Kyrgyzstan's opposition is accusing Kurmanbek Bakiyev of giving high posts to his relatives, but Bakiyev's supporters made similar accusations against Askar Akayev in 2005. Now, heads of the Kyrgyz interim government have also started giving high state posts to their relatives and friends."
Several children of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon occupy high-level posts. His 23-year-old son Rustam Emomali is lately enjoying a meteoric rise in politics and is widely considered a possible successor.