Kamchibek Tashiyev, a nationalist former boxer from Kyrgyzstan’s south, looks set to sit out the October 4 parliamentary election as police investigate allegations he beat up a rival candidate.
On September 30, a Kyrgyz court endorsed the earlier decision of the Central Electoral Commission to exclude Tashiyev from the vote.
The co-leader of the Respublika-Ata Jurt party was struck off the list of candidates for allegedly beating up a representative of the Onuguu-Progress party while on the campaign trail in his native Jalal-Abad.
Accounts vary about what exactly Tashiyev is supposed to have done to Abdymanap Abdybahapov. Onuguu-Progress say Tashiyev may have broken Abdybahapov’s ribs. Respublika Ata Jurt says the interaction never went beyond a heated argument and that Abdybahapov instigated the dispute.
Tashiyev, a former emergency situations minister, has a history of using his fists outside the ring.
In 2011, he was involved in two violent altercations in the space of a couple of days.
In the first, he reportedly knocked out a member of his own party when his colleague refused to relinquish his parliamentary seat. On another occasion, he stormed out of a sitting of parliament with a bloody nose following the kind of lawmakers’ punch-up that became a fairly regular sight in the fifth convocation.
Two years on from those events, he was convicted on much more serious charges of violently attempting to seize power after leading a group of supporters over the gates of parliament. Tashiyev was released after serving three months of his sentence when another judge overturned the initial ruling. But that was not before Tashiyev’s supporters had thrown shoes at the judge.
Speaking to EurasiaNet.org in 2010, Tashiyev admitted he went to the gym “very often – to get my anger out on the punching bags.”
At a press conference held with party co-leader Omurbek Babanov to protest the Central Election Commission’s decision to deny him the opportunity to run, Tashiyev said he had called on his supporters not to rally. He was circumspect about whether he might organize rallies in future, however.
“They are asking me a question – what will happen next. They intend to hold a protest. I ask them to put the protests on hold, since the elections are in four days. Kyrgyzstan should be calm. We will take measures based on the outcome of the vote,” he said.
There are those that see politics behind the election commission’s haste to sideline Tashiyev. While it is not inconceivable that Tashiyev did assault Abdybahapov, he has not been convicted of a crime, nor is he yet the direct subject of a criminal investigation, they point out
Zainidin Kurmanov, a political commentator and former speaker of parliament, calls the decision an “overreaction” and “politically myopic.”
Kurmanov argues that Abdybhapov is “an interested party,” since he is a rival to Tashiyev. Electoral authorities seem to have taken him at his word.
Kurmanov sees potential for trouble ahead.
“We perfectly understand what the consequences of such a decision can be,” he told Vecherniy Bishkek. “Is this the first year we have all lived in Kyrgyzstan?”