Kyrgyzstan: Kulov And Me


Kyrgyzstan is currently undergoing the difficult process of a fundamental restructuring of the state’s administrative apparatus. The recently elected parliament is attempting to adopt new laws, for example, on the federal budget for current year, while opposition MEPs are attempting to lodge their disputes with this agenda.

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In general, the opposition is behaving itself obstinately. For example, its leader Felix Kulov, known for his pro-Russian position, recently published a controversial report boldly entitled “Certain Corruption Schemes in the Kyrgyz Republic” on the web site of his Ar-Namys party.  At a press conference announcing this document, the former MVD general reported that the annual damages to the country from corruption comprises more than $427 million.

According to Kulov, upon the uprooting of corruptional schemes, a sum capable of covering the record deficit formed in the year 2010 could be received into the budget of the country – a minimum of $300 million. And he added that the opposition wants to help the new government.

It has to be noted that the new government did not react in any way whatsoever to the titanic efforts of the general and his party retinue. Why? There’s no corruption? There is! How can things be without it? Phony schemes? Supposedly, real ones, not contested by anyone. So what’s the deal then?

Well, it’s that in the loud report of Kulov & Co there isn’t a single surname! Towards whom to apply harsh anti-corruptional measures – unknown. Who the head corruptioneers and compilers of the schemes are – incomprehensible.

That is, upon close examination the general’s bravery turned out to be … ordinary political tub-thumping. In the opinion of local human rights advocates, the absence of concrete names and facts made the analytical report of the oppositioneers little-effective, and the appearance of Felix Kulov – self-advertisement and the desire to be in the limelight.

It needs to be noted that in general the opinion of the opposition on corruption coincides with the opinion of the ruling elite: at a recent appearance in the Council of defense current president of Kyrgyzstan Roza Otunmayeva said:  “What is imperative is a systemic, all-people’s and resultative struggle against corruption. It has encompassed literally everyone and everything, starting with pre-schools and ending with all the links of the organs of state. For some people it has become even a way of life. I will not shirk from saying that just about everything depends on the resolution of this question. To this problem I would like to bring particular attention, since it has huge influence on the consolidation of society and is a component part of public safety».

Further on, Roza Isakovna added that «for realisation of the priority direction, attracting the efforts of society and independent mass information media under the president will be created a Consultative council for the prevention and counteraction of corruption».

I will admit, I immediately thought of Felix Kulov: how could this council get by without him, the loud fighter with corruption?

And I, being a real journalist, decided right away to take an interview from the general-politician.

Alas! Person of heroic biography Felix Kulov, fighter with corruption and oppositioneer, general and politician, who meets daily with a dozen journalists (including also because presidential elections are ahead in Kyrgyzstan, and Kulov – is a likely candidate), after three days of tortuous contemplations refused to meet with me. As they reported to me, he values that I am a guest of his republic, but… I, of course, understand Felix Sharshenbayevich: he has to like Putin, but I, to put it mildly, don’t like him; he needs to count on Putin’s help (all the more so before the presidential elections), while I am convinced that it would be better for my country without Putin. (And for Kyrgyzstan too, in the big picture. I shall note- not without Russia, but without Putin, these should not be confused). That is, as I understood the general, the reason for his refusal to meet with me lies someplace on this plane of thought. Although, I will admit, I had considered Kulov a brave man. Not only because he literally saved Bishkek from pogroms a couple of times. Not only because he (like, while we’re on the subject, I too) has sat in jail.

And at the very least because if you’re afraid of a journalist – you shouldn’t be going into politics. Although, if you don’t go into politics – you can’t become president.

Grigory Pasko

Grigory Pasko is a Russian journalist and publisher of an environmental magazine. In November 1997 Pasko was arrested by FSB agents in Vladivostok and accused of espionage for publications on the environmental problems in the Japanese sea but found not guilty due to lack of evidence. He was found guilty of “abuse of his official position,” but released immediately under a general amnesty. He was recognized as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. His articles appear at Robert Amsterdam's website ( and are reprinted with permission.

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