A high-ranking official in Kyrgyzstan announced his resignation on December 21 after facing accusations he sparked a panic by suggesting a recent presidential inauguration ceremony was the target of a bomb plot.
Duishenbek Zilaliyev, who had only served as head of the State Asset Management Fund for a month, denies the claims against him, saying he was simply misheard when he complimented a female police cadet on her uniform.
The incident in question occurred on November 24, the day President Sooronbai Jeenbekov was sworn into office. According to the police cadet’s account, she was approached by Zilaliyev while she was standing in a security cordon created along a highway for the event. The official then informed her that a bomb had been planted somewhere along the highway, she has claimed. Alarm briefly ensued, and security services later opened an investigation into the episode.
Zilaliyev says that whole story is hogwash.
“This incident has caused a massive public outcry. Electronic and print media have whipped up a massive hysteria and tried to turn opinion against me. These circumstances have, of course, caused harm to my honor and dignity, and what is more, they have cast a shadow over the Kyrgyz government,” he said.
But the alternative account provided by Zilaliyev’s office hardly shows him in much better light.
“Duishenbek Zilaliyev’s car stopped at a junction. He made a remark to a cadet at the Interior Ministry Academy, telling her that her uniform suited her, but that she should made adjustments. The young woman misheard and misinterpreted his words,” the office said in a statement.
Specifically, while Zilaliyev claims to have said the Kyrgyz words "сизге форма жарашат” (“your uniform suits you”), the police cadet says she heard "азыр бомба жарылат” (“a bomb is about to explode”).
Zilaliyev is no stranger to controversy. While heading up the State Committee for Industry, Energy and Subsoil Use earlier this year, he played a key figure in negotiating the involvement of Czech-based Liglass Trading in a major hydroelectric dam project. In the weeks after the public first heard about Liglass Trading, it emerged that company was barely solvent and clearly unable to undertake the work.
Later in the year, Zilaliyev, who moved to a post as deputy prime minister, again caused an outcry after transparently throwing his support behind Jeenbekov in the run-up to the October 15 presidential elections. Government officials are strictly prohibited from being seen to support candidates in elections.
Most recently, since taking his most recent job, he landed in hot water after it emerged that his car — a Lexus — turned out to be registered to a Chinese mining company. Zilaliyev said he was not aware who the car belonged to.