Motuyev, a leader of the self-styled People's Patriotic Movement of Kyrgyzstan, was eager to be photographed with a shotgun. He explained that Kulov's "personal ambition" meant that the prime minister was keeping a close eye on the mines. "I have enough people, guns and hand grenades to defend myself in case Feliks Kulov wants to take the mine by force," Motuyev stated matter-of-factly.
Kulov has been engaged in a high-profile effort to curb the influence of entrepreneurs with alleged links to organized crime, namely Ryspek Akmatbayev, who is the favorite in a parliamentary by-election April 9 in the Balykchy District, not far from the Kara-Keche mines. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Motuyev appeared in support of Akmatbayev last October, during Bishkek protests that called for Kulov's resignation. Those protests were sparked by the murder of Tynychbek Akmatbayev, Ryspek's brother, during a prison riot. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive].
Motuyev turned into the supremo of the Kara Keche mines during the aftermath of Kyrgyzstan's Tulip revolution in March. Four of the five mines in Kara Keche where roughly half of all the coal in Kyrgyzstan is extracted - were reputedly controlled by friends and family members of former president Askar Akayev. As the country's politicians were re-dividing political authority in Bishkek, Motuyev led the seizure of the mines in the name of the local population, setting himself up as the director of operations. Since then, Motuyev his associates established a firm hold on the extraction and the sale of the coal without paying appropriate taxes.
For months, authorities have been wrangling with Motuyev over ownership of the mines. Local officials -- quoted in a Crisis Group report titled Kyrgyzstan: A Faltering State characterized Motuyev as "a combination of Hitler, Zhirinovskii, and Mussolini." Local authorities complain that the central government has hampered their efforts to confront Motuyev, according to the Crisis Group report. [To see the full text of the report, click here].
In recent months, Motuyev organized local protests in order to frustrate efforts by local authorities to investigate his business practices. The Crisis Group report quoted local political analysts as saying that Motuyev is very popular among local residents. They added that he and his followers would likely not hesitate to use force if the government indeed made a move to try to detain him.