Wednesday, 15 May 2013

U.S. Dismisses Case Against Son Of Kyrgyzstan's Former President

Published in Field Reports

by Joldosh Osmonov (05/15/2013 issue of the CACI Analyst)

The decision of U.S. prosecutors to dismiss the case against Maksim Bakiev, the son of Kyrgyzstan’s former president Kurmanbek Bakiev, was a disappointment to the Kyrgyz leadership. While some observers relate the developments to the situation around the U.S. Manas airbase, others claim that U.S. side indeed did not have enough evidence against Bakiev’s son.


The U.S. prosecutor’s office confirmed on May 10 that the criminal case against Bakiev has been dismissed. Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, has declined to comment on the reasons for dropping the case against the former president’s son, who was accused of financial fraud and obstruction of justice. Later, U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Pamela Spratlen stated that the decision to dismiss the case was dictated by the lack of evidence against Bakiev and added that further details can be obtained from the U.S. Justice Department.

Meanwhile, the fate of Bakiev, who was detained in London in October 2012 and put under house arrest, remains unclear as the U.S. extradition inquiry is no longer relevant. Tim McAtackney, spokesman for the United Kingdom’s Prosecution Service, has informed that the court hearing on extraditing Bakiev to the U.S., which was scheduled for May 13 has been canceled.

Bakiev left Kyrgyzstan in 2010 after the government change that ousted his father. During his father’s reign, he headed the Central Agency on Development, Investments and Innovations, which was considered a “shadow government” controlling the state’s main assets, the main strategic spheres of the economy and foreign investments. In March 2013, Bakiev was sentenced in absentia by a Kyrgyz court to 25 years in jail and confiscation of property for abuse of power, corruption, and criminal complicity.   

The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry has expressed its disappointment with the U.S. prosecutor's decision. Kyrgyzstan’s Foreign Minister Erlan Abdyldaev stated during a session of the parliamentary committee that U.S. authorities at different levels have emphasized the gravity of crimes committed by Bakiev. However, one of the main principles of democracy – the rule of law and unavoidability of punishment – did not work, Abdyldaev said. Furthermore, Kadyr Toktogulov, the Press Secretary of Kyrgyzstan’s President, noted that the U.S. decision to stop the criminal case is incomprehensible to the Kyrgyz side. “We have no doubts that Maksim Bakiev had robbed the country and is now living in London on this money,” Toktogulov claimed.

The news about the decision of U.S. authorities is widely discussed both among the Kyrgyz public and in the country’s political circles. Kanybek Imanaliev, head of the Kyrgyz parliamentary committee on international relations, criticized the U.S. prosecutor’s decision and stated that the arguments given by the U.S. authorities seem unconvincing. He said that Bakiev remains a criminal for Kyrgyzstan and that the country’s foreign ministry should strive to sign an extradition agreement with the United Kingdom.

Most Kyrgyz political experts claim that it will now be difficult for the Kyrgyz side to have Bakiev extradited to Kyrgyzstan from the UK due to the absence of an appropriate extradition agreement between the two states. Nevertheless, Abdyldaev stated that Kyrgyzstani authorities will put all their efforts into bringing Bakiev to the country and prosecuting him.

Political analysts have expressed various opinions about the reasons for the U.S. prosecutor’s decision and its possible consequences. Many related this event to the situation surrounding the U.S. airbase in Kyrgyzstan and its future fate. Local expert Zamirbek Biymurzaev claims that this decision means that the U.S. airbase will be removed in 2014 after all. The Kyrgyz leadership was hoping that the U.S. side would in the end extradite Bakiev to Kyrgyzstan; however, U.S. authorities decided differently and let Bakiev go. The Kyrgyz side will not forgive the Americans and will do everything to withdraw the airbase form its territory, Biymurzaev said.

On the contrary, another political expert, Mars Sariev, argues that the criminal case was dismissed because it became obvious that the U.S. will keep its airbase in Kyrgyzstan and that the “Bakiev argument” is no longer relevant. Sariev noted that the final decision on the airbase will be made in Russia and the U.S., not in Kyrgyzstan. He assured that official Moscow and Washington, D.C. will “come to an agreement” given that the U.S. will allow Russia “to enter” the Middle East and obtain access to the Mediterranean Sea. Sariev claims that the Bakiev case was “a political trump” in the hands of the Americans, and dropping the case means that the issue of the airbase has already been resolved.

However, some analysts also think it is ridiculous to link the Bakiev case to the airbase issue. According to local expert Marat Kazakpaev, these are two separate issues and Bakiev’s importance should not be overestimated. The U.S. side has other things to offer to Kyrgyzstan, and they are more attractive, he stated.

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