Fugitive Kyrgyz politicians lead relations between Bishkek and Minsk into a dead end

Victoria Panfilova, columnist of Nezavisimaya Gazeta, specially for Vestnik Kavkaza
Kurmanbek Bakiyev and Daniar Usenov

Bishkek demands from Minsk the extradition of fugitive Kyrgyz premier Daniar Usenov, who took refuge in Belarus. At home, the politician was sentenced in absentia to a life sentence for complicity in murder, abuse of office and other crimes during the April Revolution of 2010. Minsk claims it does not have such a citizen. Belarus more usually becomes a refuge of fugitive politicians who are being prosecuted in their home countries. In September, the Kyrgyz parliament intends to discuss the resurrection of the runaway prime minister and request his return to the homeland.

The scandal with the ousted Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, accused of the death of demonstrators during the riots on April 7, 2010, has not been forgotten yet. He found refuge in Minsk. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko warned the Kyrgyz authorities that he does not intend to extradite Bakiyev, since he is under the protection of Minsk. "All extradition requests are ‘useless and humiliating’ for the interim government of Kyrgyzstan,’’ Batko Lukashenko said at the time. All these years, Kurmanbek Bakiyev and his numerous relatives live peacefully in Belarus. Even his brother, ex-chairman of the State Security Service Zhanysh Bakiyev, who was sentenced by the Kyrgyz court to life imprisonment, also lives there.

According to Belarusian experts, disgraced politicians of different countries often find refuge in Belarus. In particular, the former Minister of Defense of Ukraine, ex-ambassador to Belarus Mikhail Yezhel received the refugee status. He is tried in absentia in Kiev. Lukashenko offered to grant the political asylum to Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic and Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Now it turns out that the Kyrgyz official Daniar Usenov also lives in Minsk.

Daniar Usenov, appointed to the post of prime minister in 2009, fled from Kyrgyzstan along with his patrons, the Bakiyev clan. At the same time, the new government declared him internationally wanted, although the location was known. 5 years ago, the media reported his death. And here comes the miracle of resurrection! Unexpectedly, Belarusian TV aired a report on the construction of plants by the Belarusian National Biotechnology Corporation. Alexander Lukashenko attended the ceremony to start the construction of the plant with the heads of the Chinese CITIC Group. Some Daniil Uritsky, a citizen of Belarus, introduced himself as a director of the enterprise. He even showed his passport. Lukashenko noted that Uritsky ’drew’  $ 731 million to Belarus from Arab and Chinese investors.

The public of Kyrgyzstan immediately recognized this man as a former Prime Minister Daniar Usenov. Mr. Uritsky told journalists about himself the following: "I heard that Daniar Usenov, the Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic, died in 2013 in Malaysia." However, the deputy of the parliament of Kyrgyzstan, now inconsolable widow Dinara Isayeva, told the radio Azattyk that her ex-husband Daniar Usenov is on the photo from the opening ceremony.

The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry summoned the temporary charge d'affaires of the Republic of Belarus in Kyrgyzstan Sergei Ivanov. The reason was ‘the participation of former Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Daniar Usenov under the name of Daniil Uritsky in the public events with the participation of representatives of the official authorities of the Republic of Belarus.’ In a note, send to Belarus, the Kyrgyz side expressed ‘a protest to the fact that Daniar Usenov condemned for a life sentence in Kyrgyzstan lives and participates in various activities on the territory of Belarus, which is absolutely unacceptable.’ The Kyrgyz Prosecutor General's Office demanded an extradition of the ‘criminal’. And this is not the first time the Kyrgyz side demands extradition of its officials.

The Prosecutor General's Office of Belarus, despite the convincing evidence, refused to extradite the former Kyrgyz prime minister, seeing in Bishkek's actions the political background. According to the Belarusian side, the petition for extradition is connected with his persecution on the basis of political convictions, " the comment of the Prosecutor General's Office of Belarus reads. 

The news attracted the attention of the Kyrgyz parliament deputies. Deputy Chairman of the International Affairs Committee Abdyvahap Nurbayev told Azattyk Radio (Kyrgyz service of Radio Liberty) that the issue of the fugitive Usenov will be discussed in the parliament. ”We have few agreements with Belarus. After the Bakiyevs departure, the relations worsened in some respects. But recently, the relations have improved. Now Daniar Usenov appears. in September, when we start working, we will consider this case. It may turn out he invests funds that he stole in Kyrgyzstan. We should get things straight, "Nurbayev said.

Public figure Emilbek Kaptagaev wrote on his Facebook page that ‘it is necessary to break off the relations with Belarus in connection with Daniar Usenov and other fugitives.’ In his opinion, the tough measures are necessary, not limited to the note sent by the Foreign Ministry of Kyrgyzstan. "We must move to a tough relationship with the state of Belarus, break all our diplomatic relations with it. We have no ties in the economic and other fields, we will buy tractors in other countries. If Belarus does not provide us with the dairy and other production, it will be more profitable for our producers. The appointment of Daniar Usenov as the head of a large enterprise belonging to the state by Alexander Lukashenko is considered as a disrespect of our country and people. If our demand results in a withdrawal from the EAEU, then we must take this step. The dignity of the country and people should be above all, " Kaptagaev wrote.

ФОТО Kurmanbek Bakiyev and Daniar Usenov