Friday, May 12, 2006

More Kyrgyzstan Notes

I've been poking around Kyrgyzstan-related information on the internet, hoping to stumble across something interesting. One thing I notice continually is the importance of Russia's economic importance for the country. Certainly the money that comes in from Kyrgyz workers in Russia is crucial, but I'd also guess that for infrastructure reasons Kyrgyzstan doesn't have the capacity to develop lots of foreign trade links, nor does it have the leverage in terms of oil and natural gas of several of its Central Asian neighbors. This suggests that Bakiev's pro-Russian policies may just be a case of charting the safest course to safeguard the country's future, accepting a role as part of Moscow's "near abroad."

On another matter, I had assumed that when Rysbek Akmatbaev blamed Prime Minister Felix Kulov for his brother's death, it was based on Kulov's anti-corruption platform. Instead, the links seems to be a Chechen crime boss in the prison where he was killed named Aziz Batukaev. Kulov is accused of developing a relationship with Batukaev when they were in prison together, though the Prime Minister denies it. Incidentally, while I don't know if he has direct links, Batukaev is a huge fan of Chechen leaders Shamil Basayev and Aslan Mashdakov, the former of whom is a terrorist leader whose colleages have included a Saudi who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan.

UPDATE: This is also interesting. Tynychbek Akmatbaev's father-in-law is Topchubek Turgunaliev. Turgunaliev was the main opposition leader in Kyrgyzstan for much of the 1990's, and founded a secular democratic opposition party.


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