Kyrgyzstan: Atambayev leaves for Moscow from Russian air base aboard private jet

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan’s former President Almazbek Atambayev, who faces five counts of criminally abusing his office when he held power from 2011 to 2017, has left Kyrgyzstan aboard a private jet headed to Moscow, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.

Kunduz Joldubaeva, spokeswoman for the Social Democratic Party of which Atambayev is a leading member, wrote in a Facebook post on July 24 that Atambayev took off from the Russian air base in Kant near Bishkek accompanied by several associates, including herself, adding that “meetings on a high level are expected in Moscow.”

“The inviting side [in Russia] has sent a special plane from the RusJet air company. The aircraft’s type is RRJ-95B,” Joldubaeva wrote.

It is not clear who invited Atambayev, who three times refused to obey Interior Ministry subpoenas in an unspecified criminal investigation earlier this month.

On July 22, Kyrgyz Deputy Interior Minister Mirlan Kanimetov visited Atambayev’s residential compound seeking explanations for the former president’s refusal to obey the subpoenas.

Quoting Atambayev, Joldubaeva said that he considers illegal both the subpoenas and a June 27 parliamentary vote that stripped him of his immunity from prosecution.

Atambayev said later that he plans to visit Russia for two days on an invitation by unspecified people there.

Atambayev faces counts of criminal misconduct while in office — including corruption, abuse of office, and illegally enriching himself.

He has rejected all of the charges, saying they are politically motivated.

Under Kyrgyz law, a person who refuses to comply with two subpoenas can be forcibly detained for questioning. But authorities in Bishkek so far have not attempted to carry out such a move against the former president.

Atambayev’s lawyer, Sergei Slesarev, has said that amendments made in May to Kyrgyzstan’s law on the immunity of former presidents are unconstitutional.

Kyrgyz lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to remove Atambayev’s immunity in a move that cleared the way for his prosecution.

Atambayev has spent most of his time since the June 27 parliamentary vote at his residential compound in Koi-Tash village near Bishkek. He has publicly stated that he has weapons on the premises.

Russian expert on Central Asia, journalist Arkady Dubnov told 24.kg news agency that according to his sources, Atambayev will have meetings at the highest level in Moscow.

“The Kremlin is likely to suggest Atambayev to refuse from confrontation with the current leadership [of Kyrgyzstan] which is fraught with a new instability in the country. Russia is not interested in that, and it will be made clear to Atambayev, who speculates on his special relationship with the Russian leadership,” Dubnov said. 

Sergey Kwan

TCA