Controversial Kyrgyz Leader Fingers KGB Successor in Assassination Attempt
The head of the controversial party that won the most votes in Kyrgyzstan’s recent parliamentary elections has accused the country’s intelligence chief of organizing an attempt to assassinate him on October 23. Ata-Jurt party leaders said Kamchybek Tashiev’s security guards had fought off an attack by four or five armed men against his suburban Bishkek home earlier that evening. No one was reported killed. At a hastily arranged press conference, Tashiev said the head of the State Security Service (SNB), Keneshbek Dushebayev, was behind the attack and called for his dismissal, in a move likely to further inflame tensions between the party and the security services. “They broke in like bandits. They had weapons, Makarov pistols, and personal identification numbers of secret service employees,” Tashiev said, according to 24.kg. “This is why I can confidently state that these were employees of the State Security Service.” Ata-Jurt, typically considered a nationalist party, has strong support in the South but little in Bishkek.A top party official, Sadyr Japarov, described the attack, which included “shooting into the air,” to AKIpress.
Japarov noted that Tashiev’s security detail was unarmed. Ultimately, according to Japarov, the attackers fled. However, the security detail managed to confiscate four Makarov pistols. Moreover, one of the attackers dropped an SNB employee ID.
Police are currently investigating the attack. Perhaps they will shed light on how an unarmed group of security guards was able to confiscate four handguns from members of the country’s secretive KGB successor. And if the attackers were SNB officers, we’ll never know if they get disciplined for being so careless as to wear their badges and drop a personal ID at the scene of an assassination attempt. Kyrgyzstan’s “power ministries,” including the SNB, are widely believed to be involved in political score settling. Tashiev, whose party includes many former allies of ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, has drawn fire from protesters vehemently opposed to the former president and has also had his share of friction with the SNB in the past. During the election campaign, an angry crowd trashed Ata-Jurt’s headquarters after Tashiev allegedly promised Bakiyev’s return. Tashiev said the videotape in question was a fake. The SNB, on the contrary, confirmed its authenticity. Tashiev – who enjoys enormous support in the South – said at the press conference that the friction between him and Dushebayev goes back to June’s ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan. Meanwhile, negotiations over forming a new government continue between the political parties that made it into parliament in the October 10 elections. The country’s leadership is hamstrung until a new prime minister can be appointed. In the vacuum, if Tashiev is able to convince his supporters – especially in the South, where tensions are still running high – that he is being persecuted, hopes for a quick end to Kyrgyzstan’s troubles could unravel.
David Trilling is Eurasianet’s managing editor.