Prosecutors in Kyrgyzstan have asked parliament for a government-critical lawmaker to be stripped of immunity from prosecution over alleged incitement to unrest.
Responding to the appeal on May 31, nationalist lawmaker Adakhan Madumarov, 58, said he believes the mooted criminal investigation is “politicized.”
“My personal position does not align with that of the authorities, and they hate that. Every day we talk about their shortcomings and violations of the constitution. We are like a thorn in their eye,” he said.
Madumarov faces the possibility of investigation on three counts: fomenting mass riots, plotting to seize power, and abuse of office.
The move against the MP appears motivated by the outspoken stance he has adopted against a border delimitation deal concluded last year between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan that saw the latter gain effective control over a strategically important water reservoir.
More than two dozen activists and politicians who had allied over their objection to the deal were arrested in October on similar charges to those planned for Madumarov. None of them enjoyed the privilege of parliamentary immunity, however.
This week’s request to parliament is only one prong of what looks like a haphazardly coordinated campaign against the lawmaker.
On May 27, the Constitutional Court ruled that the law stating that an MP can only be prosecuted with the explicit consent of parliament was not in line with the constitution. The ruling implies that cases against MPs can be filed automatically once a commensurate decision has been adopted by the Prosecutor General’s Office.
Madumarov believes that decision too was adopted at the behest of his foes in the government.
“This Constitutional Court has now, unfortunately, been transformed into an instrument of pressure in the hands of the authorities. We can say that the Constitutional Court, just like the rest of the justice system, is sadly under the firm control of the authorities,” he said.
Madumarov is a long-time fixture on the Kyrgyz political scene. As leader of the Butun Kyrgyzstan faction in parliament, he has been a lively critic of the current government and has not shied from criticizing either President Sadyr Japarov or his old ally, Kamchybek Tashiyev, the head of the security services.
In 2021, Madumarov stood against Japarov in the presidential election, coming a very distant second with 6.8 percent of votes cast.
This is not the first attempt that the Prosecutor General’s Office has made in recent times to prise Madumarov out from under his shield of immunity. In February, prosecutors filed a case against the MP on suspicion of high treason over his purported involvement in a 2009 land lease agreement reached with Tajikistan. At the time of this alleged offense, which was later downgraded to abuse of office, Madumarov was the secretary of Kyrgyzstan’s national security council.
Parliament on that occasion rebuffed the petition from the Prosecutor General’s Office.
The process to resolve whether prosecutors can make more progress this time around could in theory take up to one month. A special commission comprising eight MPs has been convened to consider the request from the prosecutor’s office and will have that much time to review the merits of the case.
If Madumarov is prosecuted and found guilty, he could face up to around 15 years in prison.
Ayzirek Imanaliyeva is a journalist based in Bishkek.