The security services in Kyrgyzstan have detained numerous associates of a construction entrepreneur and an allied political agitator that they say have been plotting to mount a coup.
The State Committee for National Security, or GKNB, said in a January 11 statement that they have identified, detained or questioned dozens of supporters and associates of real estate developer Imamidin Tashov and Tilekmat Kurenov, an activist who also goes by the name Tilekmat Kudaibergen uulu.
Warrants have been issued for Tashov and Kurenov, who are both said by the GKNB to be at large.
The move to corner Tashov comes on the heels of the businessman publishing a video statement in which he alleged that he had been kidnapped by GKNB personnel in late December.
“I was kidnapped like a bandit, kept in captivity, and not allowed to call my family and friends or inform my employees [of my whereabouts]. They threatened me in every possible way. They said that they would take away my company and harm my loved ones,” Tashov said in the video.
Tashov has had a fraught time with the authorities of late.
The developer was detained by the GKNB in October on suspicion of engaging in real estate fraud. Investigators claim that in 2009, Bishkek city authorities planned to build a kindergarten on a plot of land that had been allocated to a company owned by Tashov. Corrupt officials allegedly conspired with the company to build and sell two residential buildings on the spot instead, leaving residents without the promised kindergarten, the GKNB claims. Tashov denies the accusations and has called the case against him fabricated.
Tashov was released to house arrest in December after transferring 10 apartments and a unit of commercial real estate to Bishkek city hall. The practice of corruption suspects securing provisional release from jail or the freezing of prosecution cases by transferring assets to the state has become a defining feature of President Sadyr Japarov’s time in office. It has even generated its own word in the Kyrgyz lexicon: kusturizatsiya, derived from the Kyrgyz verb “kusturup” (puke), inspired by an infamous vow by Japarov that “corrupt officials will be made to puke up cash.”
In his video appeal this week, Tashov alleged that GKNB agents were pressing him to relinquish yet more assets.
“You see and hear for yourself how many of our colleagues, developers, have been detained and then released after payment of money. And they gave three times as much money as [what the GKNB] say on the internet,” he said.
GKNB chief Kamchybek Tashiyev responded to these allegations before lawmakers on January 10 by making accusations of his own.
“[Tashov] spoke with Tilekmat Kurenov about the day on which Kyrgyzstan would have a coup. These conversations carried on for several days. But we were monitoring him,” he said.
The GKNB subsequently released a statement to say Tashov was masterminding a series of nationwide rallies with a view to toppling the government.
One individual identified only by the initials M.A.I. was purportedly tasked with coordinating group of paid protestors in the southern Osh and Jalal-Abad regions. Another person identified as K.A.K was allegedly put in charge of operations in Talas, in the north of the country.
The GKNB sought to bolster its case by having a proxy figure — a known associate of Tashiyev — post video footage on Facebook seemingly showing Tashov and Kurenov, the activist, who is understood to now live in the United States, discussing plans to organize disruptive mass rallies in a video call. The conversation took place while Tashov was in a pre-trial detention facility, the GKNB has said.