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'They Are Building a Kyrgyz Version of the Gulag'
Interview with Bakyt Beshimov, leader of Social Democratic Party parliamentary faction of Kyrgyzstan
Ryskeldi Satkeev (ryskeldi64)     Print Article 
Published 2009-04-23 09:46 (KST)   
This interview is only lightly edited.  <Editor's Note>

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Ryskeldi Satke: There are only slightly more than three months left until the presidential elections. An opposition candidate has been announced. At the same time, the Bakiev Administration has already applied resources towards these July 23 elections, taking steps which are well-known. What's the United Opposition Movement's (UOM) strategy?

Bakyt Beshimov
©2009 en.jetigen.org
Bakyt Beshimov: The UOM has reached a consensus regarding its candidate for president. That candidate is Almaz Atambaev. All that remains are a few questions regarding political strategies for the party and the organization of the elections according to local conditions and specifics.

First of all, the current administration announced immediate elections, a fact which it does not seem to want to admit. Secondly, responsible people would not call for elections in the middle of summer, to take into consideration the agricultural and tourist seasons. And all this time, President Bakiev has been asserting that the opposition is interfering with the work of his administration. It is clear that what is interfering with Kyrgyzstan's development is the current administration.

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Active discussion is being held in Kyrgyzstan regarding the more or less realistic possibility of the falsification of election results by the present administration. To put it more plainly, it is already clear that Bakiev will undoubtedly manipulate election results. The question is if this is being discussed by the UOM and what reaction the opposition would have should such events come to pass?

What's true is true. It is important to discuss the process and outcome of the elections, but there is no point in trying to make predictions before the elections about how the government will be formed. It is already understood that Bakiev and fair elections are mutually exclusive. Given the above predictions, the result is clear, Bakiev stays. The practice of falsifying elections during the Akaev administration has resulted in this administration depriving the people of their ability to choose their own leaders and government. The President's limited level of authority is reflected in his very low approval level and in general conversation with Kyrgyz citizens. His current support is being drawn from poorly informed people in more rural areas, among a specific subculture of corrupt bureaucrats and the people occupying top positions of power. At this point, they are not just building a new Khanate, but a Kyrgyz version of the Gulag.

Additionally, Bakiev does have the approval and support of certain circles of the Russian government. And, in a long term way, this type of politics will undoubtedly lead to the growth of anti-Russian sentiment in Kyrgyzstan. Therefore it is possible to drag Bakiev to the presidency by deceit and force. Given that most people today are in opposition to the Bakiev regime, the elections will likely lead to an escalation in public sentiment, raising the probability of a shift in power. The Opposition will do everything that it can to assist the citizens of Kyrgyzstan in taking an active part in the elections and to protect their votes. The people should not allow themselves to be deceived again this needs to be brought to an end. Kyrgyzstan cannot remain a country in which its most important decisions and policies are decided by deception and lies. If the people unite and demand their rights, no power can stop them.

There has been a great deal of recent press coverage about the workers' protests at Kadamjaiski Sermenoy Kombinat (Kadamjai Antimony Plant) regarding the plans to sell public enterprises (hotels, sports centers, public halls). At the same time, in the press there have been no details about the publicly held enterprises possibly up for sale. The SDPK (Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan) has come out in support of the factory workers. Could you shed some light on the details of this and why the workers are disaffected?

The Kadamjai Antimony Plant which was purchased by a Kazakh company in April, 2008 stands idle because it is not profitable to operate. Likewise, the factory has not retained any of its infrastructures that it had in the past. There are socially and culturally important enterprises that are being put on auction. The workers of these enterprises are very unhappy with this.

In Kyrgyzstan, more times than not, the word "privatization" translates as "robbery." We think that the question of privatizing these holdings is something that needs to be thought through thoroughly and the workers need to be explained the goals of such steps. It would be better to make the workers co-owners in this matter. To grow the idea of "the people's capitalism." People don't understand why the sale of hotels, resorts and sports venues remains the only option. In the eyes of the people, the State Property Fund has long been an advocate of corruption and the theft of the peoples' property. Protests of this sort are the only way for the workers to make their issues known.

There is no trust in the federal institutions, nor in the local offices, who ignore the workers' interests in this matter. All the official announcements simply lead to more indignation. For example, the government states that "an improvement in the situation is predicted for the second half of 2009 as there will be an increase in the (world market) price of antimony and accordingly, the plant start production." First of all, it isn't clear why the price for antimony is going to go up after summer 2009. Secondly, the supply of raw materials for the plant is not being explained sufficiently. The text of the official announcement needs to be read like this: "vote for the President, and after that, in the second part of the year, things will start moving forward." Who will believe in that?

Regarding Deputy R. Shabatoev. Who gained from his disappearance and why specifically did he drop out of sight? Is this connected to his political activities?

This is a very clouded case. But, some independent investigations being conducted might lead to some shocking revelations.

Al Jazeera conducted its investigation on the torture cases occurred in the Nookat district (Southern part of Kyrgyzstan) and discovered that the Kyrgyz authorities demonstrated brutality against its own citizens. Particularly, Al Jazeera mentioned one case when one of the arrested at the time was pregnant after which she miscarried as a result of inhuman treatment by authorised law enforcement agents. Simply put, Kyrgyz government has used torture against detainees and it tries to cover up crimes from society. The SDPK came out with intent to investigate these torture and abuse cases. Are there any support for your initiative from the other factions of Parliament and what actions have been taken by present government in resistance regarding SDPK's move?

In terms of principles and the mission of parliamentary factions in the Zhogorku Kenesh (Kyrgyz Parliament) in my opinion there is only one faction - SDPK. And the rest of the political hoaxes. Application of Kyrgyz Gulag I'm using was based on the study of the Nookat district events and analysis of government actions against protesters. This is a terror. Here is the last example. The SDPK activists who spoke out at UOM rally on March 27th were brutally beaten at night and candidate to Kyrgyz parliament from SDPK, member of the local district legislative body Mr.Halikov has died in strange circumstances.

In the past, regimes in countries like Chile and Colombia have been running "death squads" who had assassinated political opponents. With Bakiev our country is going to the darkness. What was broadcast by Al Jazeera to the rest of the world is a small part. Human rights organizations have already circulated videos in many international organizations and they could be grounds for consideration by the International Criminal Court. Those who authorized the use of torture against innocent people should be brought to justice. We already know how Islamic world reacts on torture against peaceful Muslims.

The most terrible thing is that they use terror against the opposition as cover up for protecting the slogan of the fight against religious extremism and terrorism.

There is a recent incident which occurred in the same Nookat district when law enforcement officers used firearms against local people who rioted in response to the failed agent's forgery attempt with material from Hizbut-Tahrir.

This happened after Nookat district people met with us, deputies and human rights activists in Bishkek. Prior to the new year in December of 2008 someone in the building of the Zhogorku Kenesh planted in correspondence of Rosa Otunbayeva as well as two other deputies including my correspondence, an invitation from Hizbut -Tahrir. It is clear that they use such provocations in order to show political opponents as extremists and terrorists. That is their dirty trick.

Experts predicted tough economic times for Kyrgyzstan. Some politicians argue that even with Russian credit future of Kyrgyz economy looks vaguely in regards to leadership's plan on improving the situation. Moreover, argued that part of the Russian credit will be used by Bakiev during the "electoral race", if this is called. What is the real picture of the economic situation in Kyrgyzstan today and in the future?

Policy of the two presidents made country completely dependent on external assistance. At first we have been sitting on the needle of international donors and now another one from Kremlin. Corrupted ruling regimes have deprived the people of the opportunity to develop economic creativity. Entrepreneurial spirit wears out. The economic policy of Bakiev is so called "step forward and two steps back.

Russian credit will be gone quickly by fraudulent government activities and most likely wasted. And then, again well be back to the same stage where we started with zero and debt. The vast majority of the population and especially the economically active portion of the people dissatisfied with the authorities and have no hope with them. Our economy is in such deep depression that it's time for us to create National Rescue Board of the country.

Do you believe that the Secret Service of Kyrgyzstan or groups close to President Bakiev use special surveillance equipment purchased from the United States on leaders and members of UOM ?

Of course. We feel it constantly. A pity that the United States thus assists the Bakiev regime to strengthen its position. I believe that the ban on the supply of equipment for repressive regimes should become axioms for democratic countries.

Your opinion on the investigation of Sadyrkulov's murder and do you think the government covered it up already?

No one believes that the present administration is interested in the disclosure of the true causes of the Sadyrkulov's death.

How's the situation with SDPK's work in the regions on the upcoming elections?

We are working. There are regions with high political activity. But in the other areas much work needs to be done.

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Other articles by reporter Ryskeldi Satkeev

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