Top Kyrgyzstani Crime Boss Reportedly Murdered in Minsk
A well-known Kyrgyzstani gang leader has reportedly been murdered in Minsk, Belarus, where members of the country’s former ruling clan – the Bakiyevs – are hiding from Kyrgyzstan’s prosecutors.
The bloody body of a man who looks like Almanbet Anapiyaev was found in the trunk of a Mercedes-Benz in the Belarusian capital on February 18, according to Belarusian media. The man was carrying a Russian passport bearing Anapiyaev’s likeness but a different name.
Media in Bishkek have accused Anapiyaev of everything from killing a former presidential chief of staff to instigating ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan in 2010.
Anapiyaev was believed to be a close associate of Kamchi Kolbayev. Both are on the U.S. Treasury Department’s blacklist for alleged involvement in the lucrative Eurasian heroin trade.
In May 2014, the State Department offered a $1 million reward for “information leading to the disruption of the financial mechanisms of the criminal network of Kamchybek Kolbayev.” Shortly after, Kolbayev was freed from a Kyrgyz jail, having served 18 months of a five-and-a-half-year sentence on kidnapping charges.
A report on Kyrgyzstan’s AKIpress news website carried graphic photos of a corpse, allegedly Anapiyaev’s, with his throat cut and a photo of the Russian passport. The Vechernii Bishkek news website cited anonymous sources in Kyrgyzstan’s national security service as confirming the corpse to be Anapiyaev’s; Kloop.kg wrote that Kyrgyz Interior Ministry sources – and their Belarusian counterparts – were unsure.
Anapiyaev had admitted to spending time in Dubai, where he was reportedly detained in December. But he was not widely known to be in Belarus.
Public pressure had mounted on Bishkek to bring Anapiyaev home to face kidnapping and criminal conspiracy charges. But the close relationship between crime and politics in Kyrgyzstan likely made that an uncomfortable prospect for some in the country’s current leadership.
Chris Rickleton is a journalist based in Almaty.