The mysterious death by hanging of a jailed Bishkek traffic cop has highlighted concerns that a new government campaign against corruption may be fueling a dangerous rivalry between two of the country’s most secretive and powerful agencies: its police and its secret services. In the process, skeptics worry, the anti-corruption drive could target low-level offenders while disregarding large-scale wrongdoing at much higher levels.
The detention facility where 46-year-old Captain Aibek Eshbaev was found dangling earlier this month, noosed with a woman's scarf, falls under the jurisdiction of the State Committee for National Security (GKNB), the local successor agency to the Soviet-era KGB. In December, the GKNB was tapped by President Almazbek Atambayev to spearhead the fight against graft and other offenses with a newly created Anti-Corruption Service. Eshbaev served as a mid-ranking officer in the traffic police, overseen by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA).
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Chris Rickleton is a Bishkek-based journalist.