Sadyr Japarov, a national-oriented politician who until last week was serving an 11-year jail term on politically-motivated kidnapping charges, has been confirmed as acting president of Kyrgyzstan after his predecessor resigned amid the political crisis developing in the contry since the elections.
The country’s president Sooronbay Jeenbekov stepped down on October 15 after large-scale demonstrations erupted over parliamentary election results. As to Japarov, he was sprung from jail during the protests and later appointed prime minister by Jeenbekov in a failed attempt to quell the unrest. On October 16, the Kyrgyzstan Parliament approved the transfer of presidential powers to recently elected Prime Minister Sadyr Japarov after days of uncertainty and political crisis.
“Never before in the history of the country have the powers of president, prime minister and parliament all been held in the hands of one person. The people are waiting for you to meet their expectations,” said Omurbek Tekebayev, the leader of a parliamentary faction.
Japarov vowed to punish those responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars funneled out of the country and named one of the main suspects, a former deputy customs office director. Lwmakers also lifted a state of emergency that had been in place in the capital for five days.
Japarov also suggested that an early presidential election be held no later than January 10, and proposed lowering the threshold for parties to enter parliament from 7 to 5 percent.
Sooronbay Jeenbekov and Sadyr Japarov in the parliament:
The political crisis in Kyrgyzstan started following the October 4 parliamentary elections. The opposition organized mass protests in Bishkek, captured the buildings of the parliament (where the Presidential Administration of sitting president Sooronbay Jeenbekov is also located), the Bishkek Administration and the Prosecutor General’s Office. Then, the protesters released a number of detained politicians from prison. The development of the crisis led to the resignation of the country’s president and the aforementioned political shift.
The complicated social-economic situation in the country was among the main reasons of the new crisis. Surprisingly for a post-USSR state, there are no indications that the crisis became a result of some foreign meddling. However, the situation is complicated by the traditional conflict between the northern and southern clans of the country’s political elite as well as split within the ruling Social Democratic Party (SDPK). The social and economic roots of the current situation explains why a large part of the law enforcements and the government apparatus of the country in fact supported the protests or did not take active measures to contain them. This led to a relatively peaceful shift of power in Kyrgyzstan.
Another interesting fact, which is the result of the lack of foreign meddling in the crisis, is that the opposition did not express anti-Russian sentiments. Instead, the opposition leaders reportedly support the idea of a further bilateral cooperation with Russia. Japarov himself is known for his constructive position towards the cooperation with Russia and, contrary to ‘democratic opposition leaders’ in such countries as Ukraine or Belarus, do not base his influence on the foreign support or money.
Wiki: Japarov began his political career after the 2005 Tulip Revolution. In March 2005, he was elected as member of the Supreme Council from the Tyup electoral district where he headed the Kelechek parliamentary faction. He was a supporter of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. In 2006, Japarov was a member of the State Awards Commission. In 2007, he was Deputy Chairman of the Amnesty Commission.
In the 2007 parliamentary elections, he participated in the lists of the pro-presidential party Ak Jol, which won the majority of seats in parliament, but went on to work as an adviser to the president. From 2008 to 2010, Japarov worked as an authorized representative of the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption.
In 2010, President Bakiyev was overthrown in the Kyrgyz Revolution of 2010. As a result of interethnic clashes that took place soon in Osh and Jalal-Abad, Japarov and his associates took an active part, which according to their own statements, they tried to prevent clashes. However they were accused by opponents in supporting the Kyrgyz nationalists.
In the October 2010 elections, he was reelected as a member of Supreme Council on the party list of Ata-Zhurt which led by Kamchybek Tashiev, which won the majority of seats. From there, he became the chairman of the Committee on Judicial and Legal issues.
Since 2012, Japarov has advocated the nationalization of the Kumtor gold mine located in his native Issyk-Kul Region, and accused the management company of environmental violations and corruption. In this regard, he gained popularity among the locals.
During one of the rallies for the nationalization of Kumtor in the fall of 2012, the protesters attempted to take over the White House in Bishkek. Tashiev and Japarov were both charged under Article 295 of the Criminal Code of the Kyrgyz Republic “Forcible seizure of power or forcible retention of power.” In March 2013, the Pervomaisky District Court of Bishkek found them guilty and sentenced them to one year and six months in prison. But in June 2013, the Bishkek City Court acquitted the politicians and released them in the courtroom.
On 27 June 2013, during the protests against Kumtor in Karakol, the protesters tried to kidnap the akim of the region Emilbek Kaptagaev and take him hostage. The Kyrgyz authorities accused Japarov and Kubanychbek Kadyrov of organizing the plan. The protest leaders were detained, but Japarov, who denied his involvement, fled Kyrgyzstan where he lived for some time in Cyprus.
In 2017, Japarov attempted to return to Kyrgyzstan. On 25 March 2017, he was detained at the Kyrgyz-Kazakh border. In the case of allegedly attempting to kidnap Emilbek Kaptagaev hostage, he was sentenced to 11 years and 6 months in prison.
If the situation in Kyrgyzstan does not go out of control and the current government succeeds in a peaceful transfer of power, the political developments in Kyrgyzstan will become of a constructive transfer of power beyond the Western-backed ‘color revolution’ agenda that would not lead to the destruction of the country’s sovereignty and would have chances to set conditions for developments in the positive direction.
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