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Kyrgyz Commission: 30 Contract Killings During Bakiev Presidency

Former presidential chief of staff Medet Sadyrkulov's death was ruled a traffic accident in March 2009.
Former presidential chief of staff Medet Sadyrkulov's death was ruled a traffic accident in March 2009.
BISHKEK -- A state commission says there were 30 high-profile contract killings in Kyrgyzstan during Kurmanbek Bakiev's five-year tenure as president, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Commission Chairman Abdygany Erkebaev told journalists in Bishkek today that Bakiev's presidency could be described as the "bloodiest period" in the country's recent history.

Erkebaev's commission is tasked with investigating Bakiev-era killings as well as the ethnic clashes that left more than 400 people dead in southern Kyrgyzstan in June last year.

Erkebaev named several victims of apparent contract killings during Bakiev's presidency, which ended in April last year when he was ousted in a popular uprising.

They include Alisher Saipov, chief editor of the newspaper "Siyosat" in the southern city of Osh. Saipov, a Kyrgyz citizen of Uzbek origin, was shot dead near his office in October 2007.

Although a Kyrgyz citizen was sentenced for his murder, Saipov's relatives say it remains unsolved, as those who ordered the killing have never been found.

Another is parliament deputy Ruslan Shabotoev, who was kidnapped and killed along with businessmen Bakhtiyar Jeenbekov and Igor Gizey in September 2008. Their remains were found a year later.

Three suspects in the killings escaped from a detention center in Bishkek in May last year. Interior Ministry spokeswoman Gulsara Alieva told RFE/RL then that someone might have helped them escape.

Disputed Cases

In another high-profile case, former presidential chief of staff Medet Sadyrkulov and two of his associates were found burned to death in a car on the Almaty-Bishkek highway in March 2009.

At the time, officials said the deaths were the result of a traffic accident. Sadyrkulov's relatives challenged that finding, saying the bodies were in positions indicating that the victims were already dead when the car caught fire.

Motorist Omurbek Osmonov was tried and found guilty of the traffic accident that allegedly caused the fire. He was sentenced to 12 years in jail, but found dead a year ago in a village near Bishkek. Sadyrkulov was Bakiev's chief of staff until January 2009.

A prominent independent Kyrgyz journalist of Russian origin, Gennady Pavlyuk, died after he was thrown from a high-rise building in the Kazakh city of Almaty in December 2009 with his arms and legs bound. Kazakh police said last month that the investigation did not indicate Pavlyuk's killing was politically motivated.

The journalist's friends and relatives have dismissed those findings and are unhappy that Kyrgyz officials are not investigating his murder, which they believe was ordered and planned in Kyrgyzstan.

Other Kyrgyz citizens killed in apparent contract killings while Bakiev was president include parliament deputies Jyrgalbek Surabaldiev, Bayaman Erkinbaev, Tynychbek Akmatbaev, and Sanjarbek Kadyraliev; journalists Almaz Tashiev and Yury Aleksandrov; businessman Abdalim Junusov; and sportsmen Raatbek Sanatbaev and Usen Kudaibergenov.

Most of the cases have never been solved. Relatives and friends of those victims whose killings have been officially pronounced solved have challenged those claims as inconsistent.

Read more in Kyrgyz here