Kyrgyzstan: Another Bakiyev Surfaces in Minsk, Further Souring Diplomatic Ties
The fact that Kyrgyzstan’s deposed ex-president resides openly in Minsk is accepted as common knowledge. But now his hated little brother appears to be hanging in the Belarusian capital, too.
A photo that presents a striking likeness to Janysh Bakiyev, former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s security chief and brother, freely fraternizing with two men outside a Minsk café, has caused fury in Bishkek since appearing on Facebook earlier this month. Perhaps no man in Kyrgyzstan is more hated than Janysh, who is accused of mass murder and wanted by Interpol for kidnapping and organized crime.
Ousted by violent protests on April 7, 2010, Kurmanbek appeared in Minsk quickly thereafter and is said to have since become a citizen and purchased a $2-million home there. But the whereabouts of Janysh have long been unclear.
The snap was taken by Belarusian activist Mikhail Pashkevich, who uploaded the photo onto his Facebook profile on August 17.
Janysh has few friends in Kyrgyzstan these days. After Minsk failed to respond to verbal requests for his extradition, Kyrgyz officials say they have called their ambassador home.
Though Minsk has ignored repeated requests to extradite Kurmanbek – prompting frequent, if small, protests outside the Belarusian Embassy in Bishkek – this is the first time the brothers have interrupted diplomatic relations. Among other things, both Bakiyevs are wanted for the murder of at least 89 people when anti-government protests turned violent on April 7. At the time, Janysh was directly responsible for the Presidential Guard, which is thought to have done most of the shooting.
The spat could have broader ramifications for Eurasian diplomacy. Belarus and Kyrgyzstan are both members of the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), as well as the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Kyrgyzstan has also stated its desire to join the Customs Union, a trade body comprising Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.
If Kyrgyz prosecutors are to be believed, there is good reason to demand Janysh’s extradition. Stories about him read like something out of Mario Puzo's The Godfather. For example, besides being a main suspect in the murder of Kurmanbek’s one-time chief of staff, Medet Sadyrkulov, Janysh is accused of sending a cautionary message to Sadyrkulov in the form of a severed nose and ear. Testifying in court on August 10, one of Janysh’s former bodyguards claimed that his then boss had threatened to “rip his head off” if he ever told anyone of his connection to Sadyrkulov’s demise.
It seems the Bakiyevs aren’t winning any popularity contests in Belarus, either. Explaining his decision to publish the photo of Janysh, Pashkevich told Bishkek’s Kloop.kg that the “[Belarusian] population is hardly delighted by the fact that [Belarus] is turning into a scrapheap for escaped dictators.”
And regular thugs, too: Kyrgyz police have claimed that the two men pictured with Janysh outside the Minsk café are also suspects in the Sadyrkulov murder.
Chris Rickleton is a journalist based in Almaty.