Kyrgyzstan: Bishkek court ruling fuels high-level feud in the country

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BISHKEK (TCA) — A court in Kyrgyzstan has reinstated a senior customs official who was fired on Almazbek Atambayev’s last full day in office, drawing an angry reaction from the former president, RFE/RL reports.

The July 25 ruling reinstating deputy customs service chief Raiymbek Matraimov sparked the latest flare-up in a public feud pitting Atambayev against President Sooronbai Jeenbekov, the former ally and prime minister who succeeded him in November 2017.

Atambayev accused associates of Jeenbekov of conducting “reprisals against political opponents.”

One day before Jeenbekov’s inauguration, Matraimov was dismissed by then-Prime Minister Sapar Isakov, who said he had “lost the government’s trust.” Isakov was jailed in early June on suspicion of corruption.

Matraimov appealed his sacking in April, saying the decision to fire him was illegal.

Isakov and another prime minister under Atambayev, Jantoro Satybaldiev, were both arrested and jailed in June in connection with a graft case that stems from modernization work at a major power plant in Bishkek.

Jeenbekov has fired several of Atambayev’s allies since April, and some have been jailed.

The pressure on Atambayev’s allies points to a rift between Atambayev and Jeenbekov, an ex-prime minister who was tapped by Atambayev as his favored successor in the October 2017 presidential election but who has clashed with his former boss in recent months.

After the Birinchi Mai district court in Bishkek reinstated Matraimov at his former post on July 25, Atambayev issued a statement condemning the court’s ruling and criticizing Jeenbekov.

Atambayev linked the court’s ruling with arrests of Isakov and other former officials who served under his leadership, calling the arrests “political retaliation” by Matraimov and “his friends and patrons.”

“Unfortunately the warnings and advice I voiced repeatedly to President Jeenbekov personally, and publicly on March 31, have not been taken into account,” the ex-president said in a statement.

“Reprisals against political opponents [conducted] by his circle under the guise of a robust…fight against corruption are discrediting the authorities and the anti-corruption course they have announced,” Atambayev’s statement said.

Sergey Kwan

TCA