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Bishkek Police Chief Fired, Officers Punished Over Killing Of Kidnapped 'Bride' In Kyrgyzstan

Protesters hold signs depicting Aizada Kanatbekova, who was kidnapped and killed in a suspected "bride kidnapping."
Protesters hold signs depicting Aizada Kanatbekova, who was kidnapped and killed in a suspected "bride kidnapping."

The police chief of the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, has been dismissed and dozens of other senior officers punished over the handling of a suspected murder-suicide that has mobilized public anger over the ongoing practice of "bride kidnapping."

The Interior Ministry on April 10 said it had relieved Bishkek police chief Bakyt Matmusaev of his duties, alongside three other senior police officials in the capital. Another 40 police officers and officials were reprimanded.

Earlier this week, outraged protesters intensified calls for officials all the way up to Interior Minister Ulan Niyazbekov to be fired over negligence in the death of 27-year-old Aizada Kanatbekova.

Missing Woman And Kidnapper Found Dead, Setting Off Protests In Kyrgyzstan
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Niyazbekov, who earlier this week admitted he bears "moral responsibility" for what happened to Kanatbekova, saved his job.

The bodies of Kanatbekova and the man who is thought to have abducted her with the help of accomplices in broad daylight in the capital were found in the getaway car on April 7, two days after the kidnapping.

Investigators believe 36-year-old Zamirbek Tengizbaev strangled Kanatbekova with a shirt and then committed suicide by cutting a vein. They said that Tengizbaev had three previous criminal convictions in Russia.

Four people have been detained on suspicion of helping snatch Kanatbekova on the street on April 5, an event that was caught by surveillance cameras that also showed passersby failing to help stop the kidnapping.

The fact that police had failed to find the suspect even though the kidnapping had been caught on camera with the car model and number plates clearly visible added to outrage over how the case was handled.

Relatives of Kanatbekova have described a casually dismissive approach by an investigator at a crucial juncture when the young woman was still alive and able to call them.

Kanatbekova's mother, Nazgul Shakenova, and an aunt told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service that Kanatbekova phoned them separately almost 12 hours after her abduction.

She told them that her kidnapper, who initially intended to take her to the southern city of Osh, had agreed to release her and they were on their way back to Bishkek.

The women said they immediately called the investigator assigned to the case -- identified as "Olarbek" -- in hopes that the calls could help locate Kanatbekova but the officer responded dismissively.

Fluent in four languages, Kanatbekova was an only daughter and a graduate of the Kyrgyz-Turkish Manas University in Bishkek.

Kyrgyz App Aims To Educate On The Evils Of Bride Kidnapping
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Kyrgyzstan sees thousands of bride kidnappings each year despite criminalization of the practice in 2013.

The UN Development Program and rights groups have highlighted the ongoing prevalence in Kyrgyz society of the practice, which they say often leads to marital rape, domestic violence, and other ills.

One of the most notorious cases involved the stabbing death in 2018 of 20-year-old university student Burulai Turdaaly Kyzy by a man who was trying to force her into marriage.

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