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On Politics in Kyrgyzstan
A detailed interview with opposition leader Bakyt Beshimov
Ryskeldi Satkeev (ryskeldi64)     Print Article 
Published 2009-03-26 11:39 (KST)   

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Bakyt Beshimov
©2009 www.rferl.org
Mr. [Bakyt] Beshimov, the Wall Street Journal published an article about opposition leader Medet Sadyrkulov a week before his death stating that he resigned after the Kyrgyz government turned towards the Kremlin and "unacceptable eviction pressure" on the American air base Manas? What is your version?

It is evident that Kyrgyz leadership accepted the erroneous decision in exchange for USD$2 billion credit line which is in the interests of Russia but for Kyrgyzstan particularly in the long term it is a big issue. Apparently, Sadyrkulov knew the domestic kitchen and there were large grounds for such convictions. This version is most probable. I personally voted against air base Manas eviction for two reasons. First, it does not match our national interests to protect the security of the country and the second the president [Kurmanbek Bakiyev]and government make Kyrgyzstan manipulated by other more powerful forces such as Kremlin.

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Why did this make Sadyrkulov resign?

For the young state like Kyrgyzstan, it is very important not to become a competition ground for powerful countries and political forces that operate in the international arena. Look at the fate of Afghanistan, there has been a conflict around interests of Great Britain and the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and the United States. What this has led to? It's a tragedy for the Afghan people. The Central Asia is such an arc of instability which extends from the Suez Canal, Middle East to Xinjiang, China so it is very likely to escalate the transformation of the region to a new Middle East. This is very dangerous.

Second, after the USSR collapse replacement of socialism in Central Asia has not brought a firm democracy. I fear it might take place for religious extremism in the region which will promote the idea of the Islamic Caliphate establishment. A pity that many people underestimate this kind of threat. Sadyrkulov had the understanding of the issue.

Medet Sadyrkulov often was called a "grey cardinal." Your opinion on his role in Kyrgyz policy?

It's difficult for me to comment on that and I shall confine myself to the fact on what he said. God witness. I thought building of this so-called vertical authoritarian power will strengthen a repressive state machine and the architects could become repressed victims by the same machine as well. The policy which was conducted especially in 2007 I felt was very dangerous for Kyrgyzstan with political power monopoly and it reliance on violence. Therefore, officials use public resources for repression purposes but they don't think about consequences. There is a notion that the revolution eats own children. But in analysing the history and the effects of the revolutions around the world I concluded that people who condone ideals of the revolution, do not justify people's expectations and they inevitably become victims of it. Hence this expression.

Many evaluated him as the principal politician. What purpose did he have in making policy? Did he think about Kyrgyz national interests?

There are two types of state politicians.

The first type, those who are guided by the high ideals, they are generally very spiritually developed so they put spirituality in the policy as the core of their political philosophy. Examples of such politicians are Mahatma Gandhi and Roosevelt and the second type, they are parochial, immoral, unscrupulous and cynical. Failure in reforms and public management system in Kyrgyzstan resulted in dominance of these kinds of immoral politicians. Public officials ranked their own interests, the interests of the tribal clans and the families so they forget the historical mission which ultimately ends up with failure.

What type of politician was Sadyrkulov?

He supported the idea of a repressive machine and participated in the deformation of the entire political system in Kyrgyzstan. As a result we have this current parliament which is not trusted by the population as well as the executive power which cannot meet the pressing state issues, we have violence as a basic principle for the power structures. But on the other hand in connection with his tragic death I cannot say more.

Is the authorship of this parliament fully vested in him?

No, but he was one of the architects who participated in this type of deformation. Plus all kinds of PR level managers who played the role in the creating process. They falsified the so-called sociological surveys and polls, forced a false information about selecting and preferences of the electorate further developing negative sides of the authorities tried to play it and now it is clear the repressive mode plays a major role in Kyrgyz policy. They do not want to have an open dialogue with rejection of trust and relying on deception. People who support a current regime may feel they work for the benefit of this country but I think it is not the case.

But aren't there open minded ones in the executive office? Why does this mechanism work so smoothly?

We have the isolation of the decision making process in the executive office. But in Kyrgyzstan a crucial role in policy and adopting important decisions play institutions such as family, relatives and tribes. The formal institutions now represented only as a decoration. Prime minister, his deputies and many governors are essentially technical artists. For them this situation is suitable and it allows to evade responsibility in the future. This way the current president is promoting corruption and bureaucracy. Many other officials forced to live on the conscience but not for the State.

This is the main reason for the public administration failures. In addition, it depends on leadership as well. If people are calling for good things, people tend to do good things. If the call for the bad things and the policies based on deception, people also viewed this line but always remains the kernel which prefers to live on morality considering it as a very important in life of the individual and State. Society and the people as individuals come as one and they go through challenges as one as well. I believe our society is experiencing a disease a side effect of which is a low morale but I think there is a chance to rectify this situation. The question is whether Kyrgyzstan goes as an independent State and the question is unanswered?

How do you think Sadyrkulov's murder is going to affect the political situation in Kyrgyzstan? Could it stir up the public?

It has already. The first reaction was a shock because this is a very brutal massacre. There is no need to be a forensic pro to determine that it was not an accident. All the facts are out there and I strongly believe it was a murder. So as soon as the people gradually withdraw from a shock, they will realize that in the country where the eyes are being perpetrated such things you cannot live in security and it means to commit changes. The president and the government can't ensure our security. It is time for change and Kyrgyzstan in desperate need for it. Look at disappeared senators and other well-known officials, ordinary citizens and to kill such senior official as Sadyrkulov is representing current state of the criminal government. Last year alone there were more than 20 attacks on independent journalists and reporters. We are as senators, for example, I am getting harassed and intimidated along with receiving threats every day. Current presidency operates against us in such repressive manor so it is using every enforcement resource such as the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Special Agencies and local authorities. No one can be secure with this government. Kyrgyzstan needs change and if these changes do not come then the worst kind of tyranny would be strengthened in Kyrgyzstan. Therefore it is time to correct the direction our country is heading to.

At a recent press conference by Internal Affairs Minister Kongantiev showed he was "a hard nut to crack." Reporters have questioned his version of the accident and criticized the actions taken by his agency. He quite firmly insisted on his version of the accident and even warned journalists that all other versions made public will not be counted. How do you assess the actions of the law enforcement agencies in Kyrgyzstan?

Law enforcement agencies are evaluated not because they keep showing up at a press conference or for that matter respond to a reporter's questions but on the results linked to the security of our citizens. We are witnessing crime increase for the last few years. The task of the interior minister is reducing a crime but not explaining why it is growing and giving out a false theories on Sadyrkulov's death as an accident. Sooner or later truth will come out. Such relevant public persons answer to the crime is a result of entrenched irresponsibility habit. The real criminals are not brought to justice so far and it's not likely under the current president so we keep seeing how it is happening on the regular basis. I think this phase in the Kyrgyzstan's history already has ended so it is time to think criminals and those helping them would have to bear responsibility for their actions.

Recent government actions against opposition leaders seem to be working and it feels like no person is a "saint" in this regard.

We have over the past two years increased budget and expenditure for law enforcement agencies.The budget for the state protection service has increased by 75 percent. Now the same service after the changes in the relevant law has became a full law enforcement authority with budget of 106 million soms ($2.49 million). Let's compare this with the budget of the second largest city of Osh with 500 million soms ($11.75 million) and the population of 600,000. We are looking for money in the budget for additives pedagogical seniority teachers, to pay for healthcare services and pensions. In the meantime, a budget for law enforcement agencies is growing year by year. Look at the Internal Affairs current funding for 2009.

At the same time budgets and expenditure on education, social programs and healthcare have not increased. This suggests such policies in place to build a police state and they have done so. You see, their policy based on violence and they understand it very well because the government cannot cope with the main problems facing the country so they must keep everything under control. So hence attempts to amend legislation to restrict the people's right to rally and freedom of speech as well as the control over the civilian sector and non - governmental organizations. The purpose is a total control over society. This is essentially the policy of deterrence. In such circumstances, only one conclusion begs with such power and attitudes to public affairs Kyrgyzstan is in danger.

Who do you think might be benefiting from Sadyrkulov's murder?

I think the major version is that someone was really afraid of the possibility that Sadyrkulov might open up on current administration's secrets and the way it operates .He has been in charge of [President] Bakiev's affairs after all so he knew very well how the internal situation is and of course was very dangerous to them.

There are indications that he met with many opposition leaders?

I've heard from some opposition leaders that he met with them. Moreover, he had expressed disapproval of Bakiev with remorse on his role in the process of building such negative policy. Some opposition leaders say that he was going to correct that. I've heard also that he was going to create a third force and be active in the policy. It felt like it was going to happen for the past two, three weeks. I think he would have been very effective in the process of uniting political forces. His awareness was his elbow and that's what the current administration was afraid of.

Is the president's administration his offspring?

No, this is a bit more. With 2005 gradually eroding policy removal of all those who led the president Bakiev to power officials like Kadyrbekov have found themselves behind bars, some discharged like former Defence Secretary Isakov, former Foreign Affairs Minister Otunbaeva, former General Prosecutor Beknazarov , some were charged with criminal offences, some were intimidated and the others were simply bought in exchange for the positions in the government.

Later it became more obvious the regime had to strengthen its power with PR technologies. Therefore, initially Sadyrkulov's task was to attract good PR skilled managers. Then build a strategy against political opponents and appropriate communication system. So here we have the institute headed by Mr.Slepchenko and Mr.Bogatyrev. They prepared the propaganda machine to support the elections so they lobbied the Ak-Zhol party and the entire political process in the country. As it turned out after awhile the system didn't work. I think it has stopped working for two reasons.

First, the conflicts within the ruling clan which is based around the president's own family.

Second, the Ak-Zhol party scored people with different levels of political culture and goals. Thus the Ak-Zhol lobby didn't bring the expected results with constant problems along the way. Therefore it needs to be changed. I think the current administration has not brought diverse political strategies and tactics which are associated with the same methods used by the ex-president [Askar] Akayev. The method they use constantly rotates players and keeps them in separate groups which do not trust each other. This condition let the president Bakiev and his family to be as an arbiter between various groups in the political field. But there has come time when the state machine established by Sadyrkulov stopped working.

Moreover, he has become dangerous to the authorities. Therefore the president decided to go with different model. There was another separate group which now is around the president and I think there are two major updates.

First, the communication strategy run by Oksana Malevanaya and Sergei Masaulov. Their task is to create a bright image of the president and seek to adapt this image in the eyes of the population as a very positive factor. Create a situation where the president wants to make only good and if it is not then the fault goes on someone else's shoulder but in no way the president could be responsible. Incidentally, the current Constitution is a legislative framework allowing this kind of abuse for the head of the state.

But you have to agree that the administration has done a good job: the president has made some important statements, changed the background and his appearance has changed - hairstyle, clothing. Certain positive results have been made. We may say there is progress?

What you mentioned goes as initial approaches. The administration is pursuing the task of creating a bright image but in this laid and risk you can write a good speech, hire experienced speechwriters to present relevant ideas for some form of dialogue but the reality is not as they paint so between these statements and promises all these efforts will be reduced to zero. Moreover -- vice versa -- they will play the same negative mode because there is a created leader's image who says one thing but makes quite the opposite or does nothing which is a deception.

Therefore, the level of confidence in the current authorities is very low. You can read the text written by the president's staff but is that important? The very ideas contained in the text that's what is important. That's why when I'm talking about quality leadership I mean it so the leader must be the author of the main ideas. People should have an idea on the president's vision for today and tomorrow. All other government agencies must find the tools to implement the vision but when the president's administration and institute for strategic studies intend to substitute political strategy for the president because he doesn't have it the situation becomes more complex. Practically we have Malevanaya, Nikitin and Masaulov running the show just as the former head of the state Akayev had PR manager Levitin.

Your opinion represents most of the intellectual elite's view so you see it and understand the whole process with its nature. But these PR technologists' efforts are aimed at creating images to give ordinary citizens the impression that the president is taking care of people?

The people's ability to assess and draw conclusions should not be underestimated. You can impose any image at any time but the leadership can't be on the screen only or live in the virtual world and send a signals from there. Real leadership is the ability to be amongst the people through the bad times as well the good times having live contacts and we can figure the president's stand not only when he reads a written text but when he answers the questions at the press conferences which are unavoidable.

Our president avoided them successfully for two and a half years. It was obvious that the press conference on Feb. 11 was orchestrated so he didn't get to the real questions. Some reporters were not even allowed to do so.

On Feb. 11 I strongly felt that Bakiev has no mature views and opinions on important issues such as nation's ideology and foreign policy .To me that's a complete failure. They can raise artificially any image to support it as it needs in order to have it active but they need a real leadership which is absent and nothing they can do to just push it through the media.

Plus they do not consider the second factor.

We have a so called "sarafan radio" or "uzun kulak (long ear)" network in the Kyrgyz society besides the Internet so the rumours circulate with the same speed and the people tend to seek a confirmation for that matter. It is not possible to hide in Kyrgyzstan after the fact. In addition, look at the leaders of several countries who are being closely watched by the Kyrgyz population. They convincingly develop a dialogue with the communities. Moreover some of those presidents go for a direct talk with their political opponents and they openly do so in the presence of the public and the media. That's how it's supposed to be but not in our case when our government says we have a very good Khan [tribal leader] but nobody had never seen him. Nowadays with the Internet it is not possible to keep things quiet as they want.

But isn't that what they are supposed to do with the image they need to create only for a few months until the presidential elections? Their task has the purpose to have a virtual leader. I guess PR managers are working on it?

A PR campaign imposes political product on the society in which they do not believe themselves and it is not doing any good to our country. There comes the time when a society evaluates what's good and what's not and everything comes to its path. I said it before and I say it again the history shows us those who created a repressive machine could become a victim of it.


Is there an opportunity for a reasonable balance of political forces in Kyrgyzstan?

Yes, there is. The country needs a leader who knows and respects the sanctity of every human life. Authorities lose the credibility primarily because of the neglect on high moral values. It needs to abandon the intolerance of the dissent, discard hostility towards the opposition and build civil ways in politics. On the rules. You can also gracefully refer to the adversaries. Not to mention developed democracies. In my being as Kyrgyz envoy in India I have seen the opposition and government working hand by hand helping each other. Look at adamantly struggled for election candidates for presidency in the democratic countries accusing each other and then amicably seated at the same table. In our case Kyrgyz president calls upon the nation to unity deliberately making part excluded from the society. Why we cannot have the opposition leaders to be a part of important official activities? Why we can't have a friendly chat with the government? Why the opposition needs to be thrown out? Why there is a need to press the opposition using law enforcement bureaus? Why the opponent's families are the victims of the repression? When we step over this absurd? Voice of the reason tells that violence breeds violence. The purpose of the opposition to have a power, the purpose of the authorities to maintain it. But does it really has to be like that? After all, our ancestors have been victims of this ideology and hostility, enough of memorials we need to build temples built in the light. It's time to drop the intolerance of the dissent. My goal is to help the country to end the barbaric attitude to the political life.

There is much talk about the upcoming opposition rally on March 27. Do you think this is an effective method of political struggle?

Peace rally is always a deterrent mechanism. If the ordinary citizens come out to such protest then it will give the authorities an understanding the citizens are source of a power and they are against widespread insecurity and crimes which are being perpetrated in the country. Peace rallies and demonstrations could be as a cold shower for corrupted authorities.

Why have the Constitutional Court and the Parliament agreed on a date for the election this summer?

The decision again shows that they need to be in power at any price. Therefore, they hold early elections, hoping for dirty techniques. Pity.

Will it be easier for authorities to falsify results?

They do it on a regular basis.


©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ryskeldi Satkeev

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