An Interview with Bakyt Beshimov on Political Situation in Central Asia
Former leader of Socialist Democratic political faction in the Parliament of Kyrgyz Republic, Bakyt Beshimov shares his opinion on recent bloody events in Kyrgyzstan and political situation in Central Asia.
Bakyt Beshimov "Struggle for Central Asia becoming increasingly fierce"
Ryskeldi Satke - The bloody events in southern Kyrgyzstan highlighted helplessness of the Provisional Government in emergency situations.We have seen it earlier on April 19 also in the pogroms of the ethnic Turks Meskhetians in the village of Mayevka near Bishkek. From June 10 to 13 the Government has failed to stop massacre and atrocities in the cities of Osh and Jalalabad. In your perspective, is third President of the Kyrgyz Republic, Rosa Otunbayeva capable to establish effective State authority throughout the country, given the presence of discredited officials in her team such as Sariev, Beknazarov and Atambayev taking into account a conflicting interests of political parties belonging to the newly installed Government ?
Bakyt Beshimov - Initially,the Provisional Government was unable to control the situation in the country, due to lack of basic authority on the ground. A "coup d'etat" on April 7 opened Pandora box that paved the way to major disturbances and riots, sharply raised the questions of power and property redistribution, has resulted in the complete disruption of the weak Kyrgyz law enforcement agencies infected with corruption. A ruthless struggle for power has become a prerequisite for chaos in the country.
Bakiyev and his supporters were desperate to regain power along with other different groups competing for control on the ground. Chaos in Kyrgyzstan gave an opportunity for external forces trying to take advantage of a weakened State. Recent referendum was held, in my opinion, hastily and laid the groundwork for future political conflicts.
The bloody clash in the south is a serious signal of the dangerous future for Kyrgyz Republic and the region. Just about several international organizations have been closely working in Kyrgyzstan and the rest of the world institutions paid little attention to the problem. A dangerous trend cleared the way for ethnic tension and mistrust, population migrating out of the country, crime and the collapse of the market infrastructure.
It is very difficult to establish effective State structure in such circumstances. We are observing a civilizational collapse in Kyrgyzstan which is a rollback of the country backward, a significant depletion of human resources and terrible degradation of morality. Vicious practice of deception is still in place. We are unwilling to learn from the bitter mistakes.
Judge for yourself. In May 15, 2005 State commission was established consisting of a chairman - Security Council Secretary Niyazov, members Aytbayev , Akunov, Babanov , Baisalov , Beknazarov, Diehl, Isabekov, Isaeva, Kadyrbekov, Nur uulu Dosbol, Ormonova, Sadyrbaeva, Sultanov, Turgunaliev , Sadik Sher -Niyaz. Above State commission has prepared a conclusion of the "Causes and Circumstances of the President Askar Akaev's collapse" and "Results of the State Commission on elaboration of measures to further stabilize the political situation in the Kyrgyz Republic".
Then, what happened ? Plenty of noise and exposing of all the sins hung on the ex-president and more than half of the same State commission members were themselves engaged in corruption practices in contrast of what they were accusing the ex-President Akayev and his family.
Those state officials have been engaged in "raidering" and strengthening a gangster regime of the second ex-President Bakiyev. Presently, the same scenario is rolling once again. Bakiyev and his clan blamed for everything but his henchmen out of the picture.
It even turns out, many members of the Bakiyev government and his own party "Akjol" led "secret heroic struggle" (???) against Bakiyev. And I'm not mentioning the transformation of the Bakiyev regime conciliators into "revolutionaries" after April 7 uprising in Bishkek.
Is the moral atmosphere can be a place for clear and honest politics in which brave person exposed as liar and criminal as hero and where you can easily smear a decent man, where dirty slander has more faith than facts, a scoundrel through own newspaper praises himself and blocks the way for decent people ? Of course not.
Therefore, if your perspective on mentioned politicians characterizes them as discredited, in the opinion of their supporters - they are heroes. Values of the Kyrgyz political establishment today reflected in demand of lumpen politics i.e. figures without moral roots.
The new government became another "technical" dump. Therefore, Parliamentary elections will not increase the public administration quality. The reality is that depressive and archaic political elite thinks about own privileges in the government, rather than management improvement and effectiveness. The exit from this captivity is possible only through uniting ideology of progress and decisive upgrade of management skills. Lustration is a necessary measure in respect to the Government service in which the very same political players have been active in the destruction of the country and now, again seated in power and aspiring to it.
Careful approach to Government service really means everything. A new wave of leaders can inspire people with bringing progressives to the forefront and make change in society. I really hope, this time there will be a psychological and ideological change with a country taking the path for truth and justice. We have an opportunity with chances in place.
Ryskeldi Satke - There is a number of versions to the causes of the massacres in Osh and Jalalabad. Some Western media calling it "ethnic cleansing" against the Uzbek population of Kyrgyzstan. Others are pointing at diversity and complexity of the political processes which led the way for erupted chaos. The new government in its own turn, is blaming ex-President Bakiyev with his family and third party involvement which is the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan operating out of Tajikistan and Afghanistan. What is your opinion on the causes of the conflict?
Bakyt Beshimov - Indeed, these events have underlying complexities. What happened in the southern Kyrgyzstan is a complicated nature where internal and external forces came along. The bloody tragedy is a result of the nation-building failure in Kyrgyzstan for over two decades with criminalized society especially youth and direct result of coups d'etat in March 2005 and April 2010 respectively highlighted as predatory power struggle.
As in 1990, ordinary citizens became victims of politicians. By the way, I must say that those who in 1990 were directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people continued and continue to play an active role in Kyrgyz politics. I well remember how after 1990 Osh tragedy, dozens of people - participants in the event were imprisoned, many lost their lives in jails but the real masterminds and decision-makers, all those who were supposed to prevent the massacres but had not got away with help from Communist Party and the Government. After that they held important Government posts. Moreover, some of them showed up at current tragedy supporting criminal Bakiyev regime.
There was no atonement, no repentance and this orgy continues. No one in power, then and now did not mention own responsibility. But every day the same officials are talking about their place in power.The Dream of Reason Produces Monsters.
In addition, external forces played a great role in the tragic events. We agree with Islam Karimov, the goal was to draw Uzbekistan to wide scale conflict. The Kyrgyz authorities blaming the IMU, the Taliban and the Bakiyev clan. But so far no one officially supported this version. Questions arise.
Why the Uzbek leadership officially mentioning third party involvement is not referring to IMU or Bakiyev ? The first (IMU) is the worst enemy of the Uzbek regime and with the second there are no specific obstacles. But however, there is no official word about them.
Who are these mysterious "third parties"? Nikolai Bordyuzha (CSTO Secretary) spoke about the interests of extremist and terrorist forces in the events which sounds like a cliche. Neither the Collective Security Treaty Organization or Shanghai Cooperation Organization or the member countries of these joints have not supported the version of the IMU and the Taliban trace.
If Kyrgyz government has direct evidence of the Bakiyevs trail in bloody events, it should qualify such crime as international terrorism and immediately bring them to justice. But we do not see collective action of the CSTO member countries on this issue. Why? If they do not agree with the version of the Kyrgyz authorities, they should make adjustments. All stuck at the request of an international inquiry.
In my opinion, there is a struggle for control over Central Asia and year after year it is becoming increasingly fierce. Bakiyev drew Kyrgyzstan to a very risky foreign policy game, turning the country into a bargaining chip. Russia seeks to strengthen its military presence in the region to push the Americans out and to minimize growing Chinese influence.
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are trying to strengthen both as regional powers. Flaming Kyrgyzstan is an eyesore that overshadows such prospects. Deflating Kyrgyzstan and shaky Tajikistan are suitable soil for undermining the entire Central Asian region. Authoritarian regimes in the region have formed a large army of oppressed many of whom find refuge in Islamic ideology. And what else they can hope for ? Therefore, radical Islam is strengthening its position in the region.
Attempts to modernize societies, except Kazakhstan completely failed everywhere in the region. Most of the population suffered great losses in the educational, cultural and social terms and therefore easily becomes the victim of opportunists.And that's how it happened this time in Osh and Jalalabad. The elites and the political leadership of the region have neither the will nor the confidence in each other to form a much-needed security system in Central Asia. CSTO was a dysfunctional organization. In this environment people of the region are doomed to be the victims of the powerful evil forces.
Ryskeldi Satke - A well-known human rights organization Kylym Shamy, headed by Aziza Abdurasulova sees the complex nature of the events in the southern region. In particular, Abdurasulova argues that the initiative of Uzbek leader Batyrov in Djalalabad to some extent laid the course of further developments. This is about Batyrov supporters raid to the village of Teyit where Bakiyev family properties were set on fire. And also, Abdurasulova mentions the role of the Provisional Government officials in the raid. Specifically, she says Tekebaev and Beknazarov directly supported the destruction of Bakiyev's estate. What's your comment on the role of Tekebayev and Beknazarov in episode ?
Bakyt Beshimov - A political turmoil was brewing in the south right after April 7. Uzbek leader Kadyrjan Batyrov's initiative in this conflict has been devastating. Political standoff was transformed into inter-ethnic war. At this point,a bloody scenario was inevitable.The Interim Government's role here is undeniably present. Batyrov himself and The Interim Government officials, struggling for power in the south of the country are the direct participants and provocateurs of massacres. But so far we haven't seen yet any serious studies to the causes of conflict and the authorities called for EU help in conducting an investigation witn establishment of a national commission inquiry.
As to the events in Jalalabad, I do not have the facts to call someone specifically. In my view, it is necessary for Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbek politicians to discuss the role of political leaders in the tragedy, have an assessment of their actions, make statements and appeal to the people. But separate statement by Tekebayev at a press conference,recently, further exacerbates mistrust and reinforces doubts. If they are at this point and time can not work constructively that means there is an insoluble barrier between them. These contradictions can be the basis of a new conflicts. Or someone, simply wants to hush up the case.
I have strong doubts about the triumph of law and justice. For all these years, none of those who cynically ravaged and plundered the country, initiated the murders and persecutions of people were brought to justice. After the public turmoil, those timeservers loudly announcing the number of criminal open cases but never and I repeat never, they pursued to the end. The massive criminal investigations are manna from heaven for the hordes of investigators who mercilessly milked the suspects of criminal cases making deals with them and quietly writing off criminal cases, ultimately switching to the "small fish" suspects.
And the memory of many people, as it turned out, is short That's the kind of environment formed in the state. There is unfortunately, no foundation for the rule of law. Kyrgyzstan has become a criminal zone for a long time which does not go by the law and morality. Instead, there are concepts of criminal world where who is in power dictates the rules. Look at Kyrgyz politics that is not updated and it looks like an old garbage dump.
It is unlikely that this time the real instigators of the conflict will be held accountable. Gradually,it will be put aside until the next tragedy. The masterminds of the killings on April 7 and in the south have not been arrested. I doubt they will be.
Ryskeldi Satke - Uzbek President Islam Karimov during the crisis in the South was one of the first on the causes of the massacres pointing at involvement of third parties and also expressed support for Roza Otunbayeva in the difficult days. Recently, Karimov congratulated Otunbayeva on her election as President of Kyrgyzstan. In your opinion, do you think two countries, Uzbekistan and the Kyrgyz Republic have a unique opportunity to join efforts in developing bilateral relations?
Bakyt Beshimov - Huge and very conscious efforts needed to improve the efficiency and mutual benefit of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek relations. All Kyrgyz governments barely had an idea on underlying interests and strategic goals of Uzbekistan. So this time, Islam Karimov, only gave a signal to the Kyrgyz authorities not to become the playground for outside forces and turned the country into a base for hostile actions against Uzbekistan. He prevented further escalation of the conflict.
But, to the leadership of both countries to become genuine partners is essential that they at least shared the opinion with regard to external and internal threats to their states and operated symmetrically. Islam Karimov against the militarization of the Ferghana Valley and increased military presence of Russia. He prefers to see Moscow as strategic ally, talking to Russians from the Kremlin without any plans having their bases somewhere in the neighboring country.
Kyrgyz rulers have not been able to identify wise distance in relations with powerful countries and different promiscuous. It does not have to trust. The Uzbek leadership seeks to strengthen the external guarantees of its sovereignty by conducting multi-vectored foreign policy.Uzbekistan was scandalous getting rid of U.S. bases in 2005, however, used all the mistakes of the Kyrgyz leadership and chaos in Kyrgyzstan to improve relations with the United States, optimizing relationships with Russia and closer positions with Kazakhstan. Relations with China reached a higher level. But Kyrgyzstan is due to lack of normal, stable government does not have a current foreign policy,whatsoever.
On the other hand, the neighbors are very well aware that Kyrgyzstan is in trouble trying to gain control over the entire country by the central government. The collapse of the country on tribal basis has already begun in the south and it is not clear how it is going to be stopped. That should be a priority job for Kyrgyz authorities.
Another challenging issue is combating terrorism. If Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan fail to act decisively against Islamists, then it will give rise to a new bloody conflict in the south of the country. Water resource disputes and energy problems can be solved by the efforts of all countries in the region, through the prioritization of common interests and benefits. To my regret, Central Asian states are not ready for such cooperation yet. Will they be willing to do so, far away from each other? The chances of integration between them remain insignificant.
Ryskeldi Satke - The public of Kyrgyzstan expressed dissatisfaction and irritation over actions of Kazakhstan since the political crisis in the country. Kazakhstan closed the border on April 7 till the end of May.The conflict in the south of the Kyrgyz Republic brought another blow to Kyrgyz economy, Kazakhstan has imposed a strict regime on the border again. At the same time, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, expresses concerns over political processes in Kyrgyz State within the framework of the OSCE, taking various measures to help the neighboring country. What is your assessment of the Kazakh President Nazarbayev actions in this term ?
Bakyt Beshimov - We must learn to understand our own responsibility for the affairs in the country and abandon the habit of thinking that someone must and should certainly come to us under any circumstances. Kazakh President Nazarbayev decision based on the interests of the people of Kazakhstan and the state. Kyrgyz politicians ought to learn from his ability to wisely and flexibly defend and promote the fundamental interests of people of Kazakhstan.
The President of Kazakhstan called April 7 uprising in Bishkek a "robbery" and his idea was reflected in the attitude towards our country. But Kazakhstan as OSCE Chairman initiated measures to prevent civil war in Kyrgyzstan and provide wide international support. This is important in the actions of a neighbor. And we should work with Kazakhstan in this direction.
Regarding the border closure, it is the expected reaction to the chaos in the neighboring country.Confusion at the state borders, is being used by criminal groups to transport drugs, conventional weapons and foreign intelligence agencies to destabilize the country.
According to informed sources, during the turmoil in Kyrgyzstan, Afghan heroin trafficking to Russia dramatically increased . The Uzbek Foreign Ministry in a statement bluntly highlighted the transfer of large quantities of weapons into the territory of Kyrgyzstan. All this goes through boundaries.
In addition there are external forces interested in destabilizing the situation in Kazakhstan. Steady strengthening of Kazakhstan as a regional power is not well viewed by everyone. Covert and merciless battles in the world for resources and influence is increasing. But Kazakhstan is rich and strategic country. Considering all these factors Kazakhstan blocked the border. Kyrgyz public may not know this. Therefore, politicians in Kyrgyzstan should think before "scaring" Kazakhstan with bizarre claims of "exporting the revolutions".
It is extremely important for Kyrgyz Republic to maintain positive relations with its neighbor with whom we have very close ties in this world. Do not blame the need and try to understand the interests and concerns of neighbors. It is necessary to put our own house in order first, then the neighbors will be looking with a smile at us.
Ryskeldi Satke - The Kremlin expressed dissatisfaction with the plans of the Provisional Government of the Kyrgyz Republic on implementation of the Parliamentary form of government. Russian President Medvedev was quoted by major news outlets worldwide. Western experts believe the Kremlin is irritated by the lack of influence on Provisional Government encircling Russia's opinion at the moment which obviously has no leverage on the course of government decisions in Kyrgyzstan. What is your comment on the reaction of the Kremlin?
Bakyt Beshimov - We must treat the fears of the Kremlin,carefully. Indeed, in a political environment of Kyrgyzstan it is a bad habit of making quick and rush decisions. The practice of the boards of two Kyrgyz presidents was that they have successfully addressed some current issues, but forgot the most important and therefore moved to a catastrophic mistakes. As a result, Kyrgyzstan, had tactical successes, but the strategy failed. Take any sphere of activity of the Kyrgyz state and you will see this. Russian President Medvedev's opinion may materialize. Moscow believes, a current political structure poured into the cauldron of Parliament can be an explosion. Parliamentary government needs more sane and stable political composition. So the question is not in the form but in the content.
The Kremlin has increased attention to Kyrgyzstan for two reasons. The presence of American military bases and water-energy resources which can create leverage with Uzbekistan. The Kremlin concerned only with geopolitical interests. Trade and economic relations with Kyrgyzstan and in general with the countries of the region do not play a significant role in the economy of Russia. But Moscow does not want to give the energy resources of the region to be controlled by China and does not believe in temporary U.S. military presence, despite American assurances. Hence the uncertainty and inconsistency of its policy towards Central Asia.
Moscow is pushing for pro-Russian government in Kyrgyzstan but does not want to be bound with the draft of a parliamentary republic because the Kyrgyz authorities may become more unpredictable and the country will be in constant disarray. Now the Kremlin has a decisive influence on the Kyrgyz authorities but not absolute,yet. Judging by the statements of General Staff of Defense of Russia and the CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha, the Kremlin plans to turn Kyrgyzstan into a military base and therefore will be creating relevant terms and conditions. Statement by the Commander of Russian Air Force Colonel General Alexander Zelin in the case of appropriate political solutions for Russian airbase in Kant, Kyrgyzstan is reflecting the pattern. The military elite and the Russian security services continue to push the idea. Of course through the Kyrgyz politicians. Almost all active political players in Kyrgyzstan have known desire of the Kremlin and not accidentally begin to claim that "Uncle Vanya is preferable to Uncle Sam." But experts say that the Kyrgyz elections will be a competition for politicians and parties around "Pro-Kremlin" agenda.
Young leaders of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin, naturally want to strengthen a pro-Russian ground in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan on the threshold and after the change of regimes in these countries.