Atambayev was sentenced to prison and confiscation of property after a conflict with his successor.
Former President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev sentenced to 11 years and two months in prison in a maximum security penal colony. The court found him guilty of corruption in the case of the unlawful release of criminal authority.
In early August 2019, from the second attempt, the special forces stormed the Atambaev’s residence after removing his immunity. During the assault, the commanders of Alpha died, more than 200 people were injured, and several law enforcement officers were captured.
Kyrgyzstan was considered an “island of democracy” – it is the only country in Central Asia where a regular change of power takes place and law works.
However, the real reason for the persecution of the former president is not corruption, but a conflict with current leader Sooronbay Jeenbekov, whom Atambayev supported in the elections. Correspondent.net tells the details.
When a successor refuses to obey
On June 23, the trial ended in a verdict to ex-President Almazbek Atambayev, who is one of the defendants in the case of the unlawful release of criminal authority Aziz Batukaev.
The court found the former head of Kyrgyzstan guilty and sentenced him to 11 years and two months in prison. The prosecutor’s office requested that he be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 15 years with confiscation of property. Atambaev refused the right to make the last word.
The court also decided to deprive him of his state ranks and awards. According to the local news portal 24.kg, five cars, seven land plots, a health center, a number of companies, perennial plantings, as well as shares and accounts in many banks will be confiscated from Atambayev.
In 2013, Batukaev was prematurely released from the colony, where he was serving his sentence when doctors diagnosed him with acute leukemia, the last stage blood cancer. A few hours later he received a new passport and left the country. According to media reports, officials involved in this operation received bribes worth about $ 15 million.
After the release, an audit was carried out, but law enforcement authorities did not find any violations. The investigation was resumed in January 2019, and in October the case was referred to court. The accused are 19 people. The trial was closed.
Atambayev is also accused of using violence against law enforcement officials, organizing riots, organizing a murder, organizing an attempted murder, and organizing a hostage-taking. Experts do not rule out that its term may increase to 25 years.
Atambayev is the leader of the largest parliamentary party of social democrats in Kyrgyzstan. He led the country from 2011 to 2017. During the election campaign, Atambaev called Sooronbai Jeenbekov his successor and supported his candidacy, hoping to maintain influence on the levers of power in Kyrgyzstan.
However, the plan failed: it soon became clear that the new president was not going to listen to the recommendations of his predecessor. Soon, trials began on Atambayev’s proteges, and then on himself.
“Jeenbekov did not want to be a puppet … Atambaev continued to play a teacher, an older brother and generally a father of the nation and began to criticize Jeenbekov, his policies, including personnel, the work of his law enforcement agencies,” said Central Asian expert Arkady Dubnov .
This conflict also showed that the split between north and south in Kyrgyzstan has not disappeared and the risks of a civil war remain.
“Another thing is how big they are. According to my feelings, the Kyrgyz people for the most part, the Kyrgyz society as a whole is tired of constantly reproducing the same matrix of civil and internal confrontation. And a significant part of the youth went to work. Therefore, there is no resource for long-term resistance and civil war, “says the expert.
Beate Ashment, a researcher at the Center for East European and International Studies, said in turn that despite the fact that Atambayev is the first president who was convicted in person in Kyrgyzstan, this practice is “almost ordinary”, as former presidents and ministers have already been convicted before.
“The trial went on as it usually does in Kyrgyzstan, but not like we are used to in the West,” Beate Ashment added.
Since the court was closed, experts cannot assess the fairness of the trial and sentence.
“But I see certain logic and rational grounds for the criminal prosecution of Atambayev, and I would not share the opinion that in this case it is only a matter of instrumentalizing the law in order to subject Atambayev to political punishment,” an employee of the Berlin Foundation Science and Politics said in an interview with DW Andrea Schmitz.
In Kyrgyzstan, mechanisms of transfer of power are used that are typical for all post-Soviet countries, despite external differences, says Beate Ashment.
If the state leader does not have a successor from his family, but then he is faced with the difficult choice of a successor – one that would meet his expectations.
“I am absolutely sure that the leaders of neighboring countries are just from this angle and are watching the events in Kyrgyzstan,” says Ashment.
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