New Kyrgyzstan reveals dirty deeds of its former president

Ousted President Askar Akayev is holding talks with the new authorities about his immunity from criminal prosecution

Following the change of regime in Kyrgyzstan, the redistribution of material benefits seems to be unfolding in that Central Asian republic. The companies change hands as the ousted President Askar Akayev is holding talks with the new authorities about his immunity from criminal prosecution. In the meantime, reports on the unlawful actions committed by Mr. Akayev and his henchmen are cropping up.

The winds of change swept briskly over Bitel, the only mobile phone service provider in Kyrgyzstan. The rioters smashed and looted the company's head office during the onset of troubled times.  All the assets of the company were put under arrest last Wednesday pursuant to a court order. Fellowes, a Kazakh company, is laying claim to a 100 percent stake in Bitel while its shareholders (private citizens who are rumored to rub elbows with Aidar, Mr Akayev's son) are reluctant to let go of the company that was actually sold a long time ago.

Pinara, reportedly the best hotel in Bishkek, changed its owners overnight. The 14-storey building used to belong to Turkish company Muhendeslik. One Ruslan Sarymsakov, a new owner of the hotel, sheds light on the circumstances of a takeover. Mr. Sarymsakov says his title to the hotel was long established in court but President Akayev repealed the decisions. “I just showed up at the hotel one day after the people stormed the government offices,” says he. “I brought along a policeman and a prosecutor with me, and the only message I delivered to the dishonest owners was 'You must go',” says Mr. Sarymsakov. He says that volunteer guards saved the place from imminent looting.

There are signs of material wealth being re-divided in the area surrounding Lake Issyk-Kul, a picturesque mountainous lake in the northeast of Kyrgyzstan. The lake is a site of luxurious spas and health centers that are quite popular with foreign tourists and Russians. According to a spokesperson for Kyrgyz Consulate General in Ekaterinburg, the public prosecutor's office is looking into legality of privatization deals with regard to the facilities located around the lake. However, the official claimed that tourists should not worry at all in case of the change of ownership.

According to representatives of the local business community, no business activity was possible in the past unless Mr. Akayev and his clique okayed it. “There were only two groups of companies in the past here, some of them were under control of the Akayevs, and the others were controlled by cronies of the family,” says one of the businessmen who requested to remain anonymous.

Meanwhile, the new authorities started to take stock of the assets owned by Mr. Akayev and his family members. It is already clear that the clan was in control over the huge amounts of money. “The issue is currently under investigation by the National Security Service, the prosecutor's office, and the Ministry of Finance working in cooperation with commercial banks,” says acting Prime Minister Daniyar Usenov.

“We are going to trace those cash flows back to their origins, we will find out who were the payers and the payees involved in the numerous deals ranging from alcohol to gasoline to cellular communications,” says Mr. Usenov. A full-scale investigation into the former president's assets is likely to be launched by a special state commission for property disputes settlement. The commission will be set up in the near future. Let us be hopeful that the commission will be able to unravel the mystery of Mr. Akayev, a mathematician and member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who happened to hold sway over the half of national economy while he and his relatives were staying at the wheel in Kyrgyzstan. However, I have my doubts that the hands of those who paid for “the tulip revolution” were really clean.

On the photo: former President of Kyrgyzstan, Askar Akayev

Sergei Belukhin

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Author`s name Olga Savka