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Kyrgyzstan: Major Changes In Law Enforcement Begin At Top

  • Bruce Pannier

http://gdb.rferl.org/163ed672-26e1-4736-a3e7-6d7f78553acf_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/163ed672-26e1-4736-a3e7-6d7f78553acf_mw800_mh600.jpg Kyrgyz police providing security at a demonstration in March 2005 (RFE/RL) Officials have launched a major overhaul of Kyrgyzstan's law enforcement agencies that includes the departures of at least three senior officials. All three have either offered to resign or have been dismissed since Prime Minister Feliks Kulov on 25 January accused police and security forces of a total failure to combat organized crime and corruption.


PRAGUE, 1 February 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The secretary and deputy secretary of Kyrgyzstan's Security Council have submitted their resignations. The head of the Interior Ministry's criminal investigations department has been dismissed. All within a week of Prime Minister Kulov's high-profile censure-- prompting many to wonder who might be next.

John MacLeod is a senior editor at the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). He describes what he calls the "pessimist's" view of the events in Kyrgyzstan that led to Kulov's outburst.

"In recent month, there has been what pessimists describe as a breakdown of governance. Many of the original revolutionaries from last year think that the president, [Kurmanbek] Bakiev, does not have control over the situation and this lack of control is evident in all sorts of forms," MacLeod says. "You have the recent conflict between the security agencies, which has blown into a huge national scandal and drawn in the Security Council. And you have the emergence of organized criminals, apparently as a political force which interacts with and influences politicians and makes the public very fearful."


Domino Effect?

The situation led Kulov to accuse the National Security Service (SNB) not only of failing to do its job, but also of employing criminals.

Kulov focused on the work of SNB Chairman Tashtemir Aitbaev, but it was the Interior Ministry and Security Council where the first cuts came.

On 30 January, Security Council Secretary Miroslav Niyazov held a news conference to announce that he had tendered his resignation. But Niyazov reportedly did not actually hand in his resignation to President Bakiev.

However, his stated intention to do so followed the resignation of his deputy, Vyacheslav Khan, on 28 January. Khan said at the time that he hoped his resignation would save his boss.

Khan handed in resignation after legislators accused him of also holding Russian and Kazakh citizenship. Khan denied those allegations, which would violate a constitutional ban on dual citizenship for Kyrgyz nationals.

Then on 31 January, Interior Minister Murat Sutalinov fired the head of Kyrgyzstan's main office for criminal investigations, Baktybek Zhusubaliev. No reason was given.


More To Come

Kumar Bekbolotov is IWPR's country director in Kyrgyzstan. He predicts that disagreement and political battles among power organs in Kyrgyzstan have just begun.

"This conflicts, or one could say disagreements, between the various power ministries in the government will undoubtedly continue -- that is to say, we will see more of this and possibly even other measures will follow," Bekbolotov says. "Discussion about such sensational issues will continue also because these disagreements were only talked about in parliament and nothing [concrete] came of [those discussions]."

President Bakiev has maintained a low profile throughout the recent bickering. IWRP's Bekbolotov says the president appears to be using the constitutional separation of powers to prevent himself from being drawn into the political fracas.

"[Bakiev] is acting as a separate branch of power that, as regards this scandal, is separated from the executive branch, and is headed by the prime minister," Bekbolotov says. "And inasmuch as Aitbaev is the head of the National Security Service and is part of the government, [Bakiev] looks on this as an internal conflict and gives only a general position that he is sorry about these mutual accusations. But he could more decisively get involved in this situation."

So far, Bakiev has simply said he regrets seeing the problems between members of the government and ministries.

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