Alexander Knyazev: Kyrgyzstan has already passed the “Afghanization” stage, Somalia’s prospects ahead

Alexander Knyazev: Kyrgyzstan has already passed the “Afghanization” stage, Somalia’s prospects aheadThe events in Issyk-Kul and in Jalal-Abad are a warning to Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev. About this, in an interview with a REGNUM correspondent, commenting on recent events in the Issyk-Kul region of the republic, said Alexander Knyazev, senior researcher and coordinator of regional programs at the Center for the Study of Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Ural-Volga Region at the Institute of Oriental Studies. In his opinion, it is not by chance that the Issyk-Kul protests began on the days when the Parliament was supposed to start discussing the law on denunciation of the agreement on the Pentagon airbase at Manas airport and held an informal CSTO summit in Bishkek and then a summit on Eurasian integration in Astana .

REGNUM: Prerequisites and main causes of mass protests in the Issyk-Kul region of Kyrgyzstan? Who is behind the protest?


The fundamental prerequisite, it is the basis and the fundamental basis of all processes in Kyrgyzstan, including current events: the initial failure of the state. The unbridled liberalism of the presidency of Askar Akayev played a bad joke with him, he was bold by three factors: attempts to play a multi-vector policy led to the Americans holding a "color scenario" in which three main forces worked in the alliance - the tribal, clan regional opposition (in his case - mostly southern), unacceptably proliferated non-governmental organizations, brought up in ill-conceived, cliché ideas about forms of government and governance, and criminal groups irovki, tends to re-division of spheres of influence. Against the background of that total irresponsibility and the “freedom” that went off scale with impunity, which was formed during the Akayev period, Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s attempt, with the support of the United States, to form an authoritarian government was a fiasco. Against the background of natural public discontent with the socioeconomic situation, the northern clans made revenge with the help of the controlled criminal groups. But the peculiarity of the Kyrgyz so-called elite (this term has to be used in Kyrgyzstan for simplicity of explanations, in fact it is not fully applicable here) is that uniting clans, tribes, groups, leaders and leaders, etc. capable only of the principle "against someone", "for something" - never. This is a historically explainable phenomenon: the state conducts its history from 1924 of the year, and only within the framework set aside by the Allied Center, and before joining the Russian Empire, the Kyrgyz tribes united only briefly and exclusively in the face of an external enemy. We can also recall the following historical fact: the accession of the northern tribes and clans took place on a voluntary basis during the war with the Kokand Khanate. And already in the war with Kokand and the annexation of the present Kyrgyz south to Russia, the northern Kyrgyz tribal authorities commanded their troops, helping the Russian troops to conquer their southern tribesmen. The Russian-Soviet period of Kyrgyz history is not so great, a hundred-and-a-few years was not enough to overcome this internal Kyrgyz strife. The Soviet experience suggests that an external factor is necessary, by force or under the fear of force that removes conflict, otherwise everything goes on the run. Today there is an attempt of revenge again from the southerners. The events in Issyk-Kul are partly of a distraction, the main thing, I think, is whether it starts or starts from the south.

This is - if in general terms. In particular, several factors work on the events in Issyk-Kul.

One of them is an attempt of revenge on the clans that were removed from power (and in Kyrgyzstan, power is the main method of personal enrichment), not only southern but also a large part of northern ones. The personnel policy of Atambayev in terms of regional clan preferences is even more narrowed than Akayev’s attempts to somehow balance or Bakiyev’s desire to rely on at least southerners. What can I say, if the former driver and bodyguard of Atambayev himself is appointed deputy head of the government? Principle one - personal loyalty. By the way, the criterion in which it is so easy to make a mistake ... The current Prime Minister Jantoro Satybaldiev is a southerner, but only by origin, in his native Uzgen district, in Osh there are many unpleasant questions for him ... Another southerner is speaker Asylbek Jeenbekov - nothing really solves. The power has been narrowed down within the few groupings of those who so far do not consider it convenient to betray for themselves, it is more profitable to be faithful for now. According to my information, the current events are fully or partially funded through Roza Otunbayeva, who does not have any position, but for some reason lives in the state residence and has enormous influence on Atambaeva. Paradoxically? But only at first glance. Here is the time to move on to the second factor - foreign policy. While Atambaev was not too categorical in controversial issues of foreign policy orientation, he arranged for the Americans. This is a question about the withdrawal of the American Manas airbase, the construction of a radio-electronic intelligence center in Bishkek, the creation of US and NATO facilities in the south, the question of joining the Customs Union, this is the decision to expand the Russian military issue at the Kant airbase and activate The CSTO is finally an initiative to build a railway from Tajikistan to the north, joining the Kazakhstan transport network, which means abandoning the US plans to reformat the region ,. Otunbayeva is a man in the Washington Regional Committee, well ... let's say, the London Regional Committee.

The expressive pro-Russian rhetoric of Atambaev in recent months has alerted Western curators of his surroundings. Events in Issyk-Kul and in Jalal-Abad are, as an option, a warning. I am a little surprised by the naivety of Western designers: if this rhetoric were sincere and entailed real actions. But it sounded all pretty loud, apparently decided to play it safe. It is not by chance that the Issyk-Kul protests began in those days when discussion of the law on denunciation of the agreement on the Pentagon airbase at Manas airport and the informal CSTO summit in Bishkek and then the Eurasian integration summit in Astana were to begin in parliament.

There are more details. The exchange games with the shares of the Canadian enterprise Centerra Gold earn much more money than all the gold of the Kumtor mine costs. Any critical event related to an enterprise entails lower prices. It may be recalled how prices fell after the first, non-mass pickets around Kumtor, and after a short time, information appeared in the press about the alleged new reserves of the field, and the stock price immediately went up. With the exception of the state shareholding and a small number of them among minority shareholders, the main owners are serious figures, the scale of which goes far beyond the borders of Kyrgyzstan. For example, the former director of the CIA, General David Petraeus, the son of the ex-president Maxim Bakiyev, the former prime minister Omurbek Babanov ...

REGNUM: How legitimate are the statements and demands of the protesters?

In the socio-economic situation that exists in Kyrgyzstan, it is very easy to play on populism. Here, de, these Canadian investors are pumping out Kyrgyz gold, robbing the Kyrgyz people, etc. I do not exclude that some details of the agreement with Centerra Gold are subject to revision. But if problems were only with Kumtor. In November last year, in the Lyailyak district, an attack was made on the geological prospecting camp "April", located on the gold deposit of the same name. The field was explored by the Russian company AZInternational, and a drilling contractor at the mine was led by the Kyrgyz contractor Ala-Urum OJSC. The equipment was destroyed, the village of geologists was burned, victims, thank God, there was no work suspended, no one has yet been brought to responsibility for the defeat. For the expropriation of their share in the Dzheruy gold deposit, Kazakhstan’s Visor company is seeking compensation in excess of 400 million dollars. The government of Kyrgyzstan simply does not respond to inquiries of the Kazakhstan investor, the Kazakhstanis were forced to turn to the International Center for the Resolution of Investment Disputes of the World Bank, the issue has not yet been resolved. Suspended after riots that were of an inter-ethnic nature, the work of the Chinese mining company Altyn-Ken in the Chui region, the conflict with great difficulty was localized by local law enforcement agencies. That is, we need to talk not about the case, but about the trend. And questions about the incompatibility of certain conditions on investment projects are most often associated with corruption in the government, in the leadership of Kyrgyzstan itself, these are questions to those who signed the relevant agreements. But this is not a reason for de-energizing the mine, blocking communications, exposing, by the way, a considerable region on the southern coast of Issyk-Kul, putting the lives of thousands of people at risk, at risk of man-made disaster. There are complaints - hold a meeting in Bishkek, demand the resignation of the government, the president, the parliament, the head of the sanitary epidemiological supervision, finally, etc. But why disrupt the work of the enterprise, which gives 20% tax revenues to the budget, and at the same time the tourist season, this is also a considerable amount of budget revenues and for the vast majority of residents of Issyk-Kul oblast - the only source of livelihood.

Performances are organized, it is undoubtedly, the local population is simply used. When the ruling elite is unable to provide its population with at least minimally acceptable living conditions, populism works: foreigners are to blame. Populism - weapon both sides, the opposition, the authorities ... I think in the case of Kumtor, if we talk about the demands put forward, this is important. The share of the local population of employees of the enterprise, by the way, 95 percent, in world practice is not such a bad indicator. Is the government in return or at least something in addition proposed? Has the government created jobs? Questions rhetorical. Did not offer, did not, does not offer and will not do. Claims of protesters to the enterprise are secondary, it is not a socio-economic, it is exclusively a political conflict.

REGNUM: How do you assess the reaction of the Kyrgyz authorities to the riots?

How mediocre. Actually, it could not be otherwise. By and large, there are no authorities in the full sense of this word in Kyrgyzstan. Back in 2005, I used the image: “the Afghanization of Kyrgyzstan,” it was about the redistribution of power functions in the regions and their insubordination to the capital. I think at this moment the stage of “Afghanization” Kyrgyzstan has already passed, Osh lives by itself, the Batken region, ironically, is called “Ichkeria”, meaning its autonomy from the center, now, now, it’s Issyk-Kul’s turn, and therefore Naryn Oblast ... Now there is a choice: follow the path of Yugoslavia and begin to divide into regions and regionalists. Or go on the path of Somalia, turn finally into a large criminal zone with the same criminal order. How else can one regard shyness in the reaction of these authorities: first, we throw unhappy policemen into the crowd and try to use force, dozens of injured, then Deputy Prime Minister Atakhanov arrives and tearfully asks for forgiveness, then he is echoed promptly by the governor of the region Mamytov, who, no doubt, begins to flirt with the protesters ... But there is a showdown behind the scenes, otherwise you will not name it, everything is by concepts, as it should be in the criminal sphere.

The power structures of Kyrgyzstan are discredited, demoralized and corrupt, starting from the time of Akayev. And this degradation with each new regime is only aggravated. The disgraceful trial of the officers of the Alpha Special Forces who defended 2010 in April was not the regime, not Bakiyev, but a very specific object, the house of the government, who simply remained loyal to the oath. Will any of the military personnel of any power structure seriously serve at least some kind of power? Some orders can be executed - if not to the detriment of oneself and there is an understanding that they will later be punished for their execution. In general, power is impotent.

REGNUM: How will this affect the image of the authorities? What consequences will such actions bring, both for the authorities and for the country itself?


It’s too late to talk about the image, it’s not for Kyrgyzstan, Switzerland, which Akayev dreamed of, it didn’t work and it won’t work out anymore. About the investment climate, I said above. Today, only the abnormal will work with this power and in these conditions. The future behavior of the Russian leadership towards Kyrgyzstan is curious in this context, and at the same time the fate of Russian projects in the field of hydropower and the development of events in terms of Kyrgyzstan’s integration into the Eurasian projects of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus. Do they understand in Moscow, as well as in Astana and Minsk, that there are no adequate partners in Kyrgyzstan, who are able, at least with a stretch, to fulfill their obligations more or less honestly and responsibly?

As part of the image there is one thing - the power and political elite are doing everything possible to have an image - the image of the criminal zone with a rapidly growing aggressive nationalist bias. Currently, this no longer applies to the opposition, it is more moderate (so far), it is about the current government. Atambayev’s advisor on inter-ethnic relations, Emilbek Kaptagaev, is the main ideologist of the emerging national-fascism. His favorite topic is Russian colonialism, the genocide of Russians against the Kyrgyz (talking about the 1916 uprising), he is the main director of anti-Russian and anti-Russian sentiments among the marginals. There are a lot of marginals in Kyrgyzstan, the ground for fascism is quite prepared. Now, on the eve of 2016 of the year, for the anniversary, Russians and, accordingly, Russia are chosen as the main target. This is also the American order, this is also the own essence of the elite ruling in Kyrgyzstan. By the way, while Kaptagaev is stirring up anti-Russian nationalism, while at Osh other political leaders spending the days of the Rossiyskaya Gazeta in Osh, it looks very contrast. The image of the Kyrgyz south is pretty spoiled by the interethnic Kyrgyz-Uzbek conflict 2010 of the year, but there something is starting to move for the better. The image of northern Kyrgyzstan today is formed by Atambayev and his adviser Kaptagayev.

REGNUM: De jure, the republic is parliamentary, but there was no adequate reaction from the people's representatives, how can one characterize the Kyrgyz statehood?

There will be reactions, there will be a lot of them, they will necessarily be diversely emotionally colored, but whether they will be adequate, that is the question. The parliamentary system in Kyrgyzstan has completely discredited itself, the parliament performs two main functions. First of all, MPs are a tool for lobbying their vested interests by “people's representatives”. Secondly, there is a discussion platform, where, by timely and proper promotion, you can expand lobbying opportunities (see the first function).

Only the stupid and lazy did not write about the discrepancy between the parliamentary system and the realities of Kyrgyzstan in 2010. But the then “revolutionary” team of Otunbayeva, Atambayev, Tekebayev and others like them didn’t need an effective management system, judging by the three-year results. Power was needed, conditions were necessary for the redistribution of property, and the ordering of external sponsors was needed. For three years in the destruction of the republic, this team has succeeded more than Akayev and Bakiyev combined. If the parliament is leading from the branches of government, and in theory this is precisely assumed, the question arises - where, several days after the start of the conflict in Issyk-Kul and then in Jalal-Abad, are deputies, where is the speaker? The approval of the parliamentary system in Kyrgyzstan was the next stage in the destruction of those elements of statehood that still remained by inertia from the Soviet era. Three years later, no one was punished for the massacre in Osh, all the main characters of the then Provisional Government and today at the head of the political process. The parliament in Kyrgyzstan is a fiction, as the famous literary hero said, "donut hole" ...

REGNUM: Your forecasts, how will the situation develop further?

Issyk-Kul, I think, this is either a rehearsal, or / and a catalyst. The main thing will happen from the south. If Atambayev does not want to check his business in Turkey in a couple of weeks and relax at the same time (by the way, rest in Turkey is problematic now), he should at least dismiss the government, declaring him guilty of the specific situation with Kumtor. And reformat the entire state apparatus, taking into account the claims of all regional clans. Create what in decent circles is called the consensus of elites. I estimate the likelihood of such a low. But this is not enough.

The situation in Issyk-Kul is a warning; Atambayev is required to guarantee that he will abandon those relations with Russia that he declares. In the shortest possible time, Atambayev must demonstrate a certain upgrade of his foreign policy preferences: will it be a refusal to withdraw the American base or to join the Customs Union. From the point of view of self-preservation, his task now is to put into action a stage of serious cooling in relations with Russia. Otherwise - a suitcase, the airport "Manas", the airline Turkish Airlines ...

What form it will take is the tenth case. Another anti-Russian freak (and he has had a lot of them in a short time) saves for a while. In general, we are talking about the complete and final reorientation of Kyrgyzstan in the direction opposite to Russia, Kazakhstan and the formation of the Eurasian geopolitical and geo-economic space. Salvation from the next "color scenario" - following the advice of Otunbayeva and, importantly, loyalty to former Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov. Babanov for the near future is the main creature of the Americans, in principle, I think they are ready to take him out of the shadows before. Knowing Atambaev personally, I do not think that he is able to find a way that would suit all external actors.

Do I need to help Atambayev? In social networks, in recent days, external management scenarios are being actively discussed up to the introduction of the CSTO CSTO CRRF to stabilize and prevent power scenarios. I don’t think that the CSTO is capable of that; this, and I have already written and said more than once, is an institutionally inefficient organization. The only thing that it fruitfully carries out is the function of the channel of military technical assistance such as today's Kyrgyzstan to pseudo-allies at the expense of Russian taxpayers. Had the KSOR entered the Kyrgyz Republic, on the second day these troops would be declared invaders, and there it would be close to the Basmah movement, the United States and NATO would help. The CSTO is not ready to counteract this, even in the information space, but the main thing is not even that. The CSTO leadership does not have the authority to act independently, this is one of the main flaws of the organization. How will Kazakhstan react to such an action? Not to mention Armenia or Tajikistan ... It is possible, given the presence in Minsk of ex-President Bakiyev, to suggest how much irony will come from the mouth of the President of Belarus ... Russia alone does not solve this issue. And is it necessary to protect personalities? And in Kyrgyzstan itself, from Atambayev, of the real possibilities of support - in the case of attempts to resolve the current conflict by force - only an attempt to unite some part of the North Kyrgyz criminals. Perspective and dubious, and unhappy. What should Russia do? Russia and other partners of Kyrgyzstan in the CSTO, the CIS, the SCO and anything else can only come to terms with the processes that have been happening for a long time now and against their will, and prepare to provide the next large-scale humanitarian aid to Kyrgyzstan. And for the future - if relations with Kyrgyzstan have a future at all - to be more selective in choosing partners.
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