Kyrgyzstan: Court rules former President Atambayev committed libel

Almazbek Atambayev speaks to his April television channel (photo: SDPK website)

BISHKEK (TCA) — A court in Bishkek has ordered Kyrgyzstan’s former President, Almazbek Atambayev, to pay financial compensation to three former officials who accused him of insulting their dignity and honor, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.

The Oktyabr District Court ruled on February 28 that Atambayev must make separate payments of 100,000 soms, or about $1,450 each, to former public officials Azimbek Beknazarov, Keneshbek Duishebaev, and Akmatbek Keldibekov.

The court also ordered Aprel-TV to “retract” statements made by Atambayev during a December 10 interview aired by the private television channel. The court did not specify how the television channel should retract Atambayev’s remarks.

Keldibekov formerly was Kyrgyzstan’s parliamentary speaker while Duishebaev headed the State Committee for National Security, and Beknazarov formerly was Kyrgyzstan’s prosecutor-general.

The three filed the lawsuit against Atambayev and the television channel in December, demanding 18 million soms ($260,000) from Atambayev and Aprel-TV director Dmitry Lozhnikov for what they described as “disseminating false information.”

In the interview, Atambayev accused Keldibekov, Duishebaev, and Beknazarov of looking for political opportunities to enrich themselves.

They filed the lawsuit amid growing signs of tension between Atambayev and Kyrgyzstan’s current President, Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

Limited to a single six-year term by the constitution, Atambayev tapped his prime minister, Jeenbekov, as his favored successor in Kyrgyzstan’s October 2017 presidential election.

But the two have had a public falling out and have criticized each other in recent months. Meanwhile, several associates of Atambayev have been arrested on corruption charges.

Kyrgyzstan’s parliament on December 13 approved legislation to eliminate immunity from prosecution for former presidents — potentially opening the path for charges against Atambayev.

Also in December, some members of Kyrgyzstan’s ruling Social Democratic Party (SDPK), which Atambayev heads and of which Jeenbekov is a member, launched a campaign dubbed “SDPK without Atambayev.”

Kyrgyz lawmakers and other politicians have been calling for an investigation into some decisions made by Atambayev while he was in office.

Sergey Kwan

TCA

Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
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Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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