Kyrgyzstan has largely waned from the Western news, as the interim government seems to be sticking and former President Bakiyev is sheltered by Belarus. Still, a news item pops up every couple of days. From the NYT, Kyrgyzstan Opens an Inquiry Into Fuel Sales to a U.S. Base:
The investigation focuses on Maksim Bakiyev, the 32-year-old son of former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was ousted in an uprising last month in which opposition to corruption was a rallying cry.
Prosecutors are examining whether the elder Mr. Bakiyev’s government broke the law in granting tax breaks to companies that eventually became affiliated with his son, the Interfax news agency reported.
Leaders of Kyrgyzstan’s interim government have said that Maksim Bakiyev’s companies skimmed as much as $8 million a month from fuel sales to the base. That charge and other corruption allegations contributed to the uprising that drove his father from office.
Kyrgyz officials have also accused the United States of using the fuel distribution system to curry favor with Kurmanbek Bakiyev in order to hold on to the air base, but the prosecutors have not alleged wrongdoing by the Pentagon, according to the Interfax report.
So who are they accusing, if not the agency that assists in co-ordinating resources for the base? Just the US in general? That’ll go far. The subcomittee on National Security oversight held a hearing on the Kyrgyzstan fuel contracts last month, and it will probably get picked up again in the future, especially if Kyrgyzstan keeps in a flap about it. But the interim government has asserted its commitment to upholding the lease with the USAF for Manas, so one wonders just how far any investigation will go. At the very least, the interim government could insist on more oversight from both the US and Kyrgyzstan in the awarding of contracts, but since the main source of state nepotism has been removed, that might come anyway as the interim government strives for transparency and adherence to its promises.
The BBC also reports the rise of of ethnic tensions in Kyrgyzstan:
But some who tried to seek help from the police and did not get a response quickly enough are unconvinced.
They are the residents of Mayevka, a village near Bishkek populated mainly by people of Russian and Turkic origin.
On 19 April, almost two weeks after the anti-government protests, an angry mob numbering in their thousands overran this village. Five people were killed and several homes were destroyed.
Most of the houses belonged to Meskhetian Turks – originally from Georgia, they were deported to Central Asia by Joseph Stalin in 1944.
Dozens of men and women are still occupying land near the village.
They have demanded that the interim government, led by Roza Otunbayeva, give them land.
“We are the sons of Kyrgyzstan. Turks have seized our land, but the land is ours, is it not?” said Syimyk, one of the protesters.
I’d be really interested to know whether the interim government considers this acceptable opportunism in light of the claims made before and during the overthrow of the previous government, or if this is just one more issue to worry about in a long line of issues Otunbayeva et al are trying to work through.
Elections are in October. It’s going to be a long summer.