Kyrgyzstan: Presidential immunity-stripping talk reawakened
The MP pushing the move says he has ex-President Almazbek Atambayev in his crosshairs
There is fresh talk in Kyrgyzstan about stripping former presidents of immunity.
KyrTAG news agency on October 1 cited Ishak Masaliyev, a member of parliament with the Onuguu-Progress faction, as saying he has formally lodged the requisite legal amendment.
Masaliyev specifically stated he had Almazbek Atambayev, who served as head of state until the end of his single six-year term in November, in mind. Atambayev could face legal action over the circumstances surrounding a contentious $386 million loan granted to Kyrgyzstan by China’s state-run Eximbank, the MP said.
If this initiative proceeds, it will revive a tense political confrontation that appeared to have died down over the summer.
Atambayev has been the engineer of his own woes. Instead of riding off into sunset after leaving his office, as he had clearly promised, he made noises about wanting to keep playing in a role running things, despite his protege Sooronbai Jeenbekov taking office as president.
That went down poorly with Jeenbekov’s team, who proceeded to fire and, in some cases, initiate criminal investigations against Atambayev’s holdover cronies in the government. The most high-profile casualty to date has been Sapar Isakov, a former prime minister who was in May charged with corruption connected to that same Chinese loan.
The loan in question was granted to finance the overhaul of a power plant in the capital, Bishkek. Investigators say the loan and the refurbishment of the plant were mired in opacity and marred by dubious procurement practices. Critics of the investigation into Isakov and others linked to the power station affair decry the entire business as a politically motivated witch-hunt.
Isakov was brought before Pervomaisky district court in Bishkek on October 1 for a ruling on how he is to be detained further. Kaktus news website reported that a group of Isakov supporters at the court applauded in solidarity as he was led to his hearing. In an earlier court decision, on August 29, the former PM had his stay in prison pending trial extended to October 5.
This is not Masaliyev’s first run at the immunity issue. He gained considerable support in parliament for the idea when he proposed it back in May. The initiative only failed to make progress because of the summer recess, buying Atambayev some time.
There were glimmers of a potential closing of the Atambayev-Jeenbekov rift when the presidential administration stated that the former leader had been invited to attend the Nomad Games competition that took place in September. In the event, Atambayev failed to show up.