Interview: Kurmanbek Bakiyev

Al Jazeera speaks to Kyrgyzstan’s ousted president.

Bakiyev remains defiant and says he will not step down as president [AFP]

What’s your position? What decisions have you made regarding your position?

So first of all as a legitimate president I haven’t resigned yet. I consider the events of 7th April to have been an armed uprising which caused great human casualties, and victims.

It was obvious that the opposition were ready for an uncompromising armed uprising by seizing power already in Talas, when they captured the governor who didn’t stop them from holding a rally and then took him hostage.

A great number of people were armed with stones, intoxicated with alcohol, they beat the militia.

These protesters, those opposition protesters in Talas, even prevented medical teams from providing first aid to the militia. They beat doctors, crashed an ambulance car, even during war time those who are injured are always provided first aid, how can you consider such actions, such behaviour of the opposition – even in war time doctors are untouchable – and that was in Talas.

In other words, already then they had a plan of armed, illegal seizure of power.

But you arrested all the opposition leaders, not just Ata Meken, Atambaev, Sariev, you removed any calming factors, therefore, who was able to control those crowds?

First of all they were not arrested, they were temporarily detained and first they were warned that the prosecutor’s office gave them a warning that you can have your rally here and there.

It is undesirable for you to have an unsanctioned, illegal rally, but when the interior ministry realised that their ultimate goal was to seize power, they had to detain them.

And how should a state and its members of government act, knowing that certain players, those who mastered this plan are planning to seize power in this country? Let them go free?

What will happen next? How will you resolve the situation? Are you going to fight back, are you going to the table to have talks, what are your next plans?
Using this opportunity posed by your question, first of all I’m proposing that a UN peacekeeping force come to Kyrgyzstan because today there are a lot of people with weapons in Kyrgyzstan – the criminal world has awoken.

Criminal elements in Kyrgyzstan are growing. They are pressurising businesses, from the smallest to the largest, and they have started taking business away from the entrepreneurs – whose families and children are being threatened, not to mention mine, my family, my relatives, and my brothers.

Therefore, it is necessary for peacekeeping forces to come to Kyrgyzstan.

The parallels with what happened with your predecessor are unmistakable when he left and allowed for your assumption of power, is that not the next logical step for the future security of your people and the country?

I don’t think so. First of all I don’t feel myself guilty. In order to flee the country, I have to be guilty, if I’m not guilty, why should I flee from my own country?

Moreover, the presidential elections were held literally eight or nine months ago, where I enjoyed 70 per cent of votes for me.

Two weeks prior to 7th April, a Kurultai of consent was held, which was attended by delegates from all over the country – ordinary people, not just state officials – and we worked with the delegates for two days, and on the second day we talked about openly about lax problems as well as positive achievements.

Take a look at the resolution of Kurultai, it’s written there that the Kurultai supports by all means the president, his reforms, his course for renewal.

How can the psychology of people change so dramatically that in two weeks, they go and capture the White House?

But the opposition declined to attend the Kurultai, and they’re the people who at least are perhaps the second most popular, if you consider yourself the most popular. They had the most legitimacy as your competitors; they chose not to attend, so how could the Kurultai have had legitimacy without their attendance?

Why didn’t they attend? We invited them, moreover I wanted to invite them, by special ticket. I waited until the end, but they didn’t show up.

How can you blame the president if they didn’t show up? But take a look at Asiya Sassykbaeva, isn’t she in the opposition. She spoke for 15 minutes, if not more, although delegates were given only seven minutes.

There was Aziza Abdurasulova, who wanted, they came but those who wanted to seize power with arms, they didn’t show up.

You mentioned that you asked for UN peacekeeping? What did they say to you are they agreeing with you on that? What is the international community telling you?

No, no I just now am making this statement, and I hope today, talk to at least Mr Yan Kubic (special envoy of the UN) and you didn’t let me finish my second proposition: I’m inviting an independent international commission to investigate these tragic events.

If this international commission concludes that Bakiyev is guilty, I’m ready to bear full responsibility before my people.

An International commission? Comprised of which organisations, UN, EU, OSCE?

I think it would consist of representatives of the UN, OSCE and other international organisations, the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organisation).

Can you categorically state now on the record, you give every guarantee that you will not use force to try to take control of the country, or that your supporters, will attempt to do it for you?

By no means, I’m not a follower of seizing power with arms. I have been growing gradually starting from the ordinary worker, all my life. I worked as manager at many different levels. I could not contemplate, not for one moment, that one could grab someone’s seat with force, not to mention with weapons.

Do you have any regrets whatsoever about the way you have handled your administration over the last five years?

I do regret only about one thing. That our special services, the national security service of Kyrgyzstan, the ministry of internal affairs of Kyrgyzstan, did not know about such a big action being planned. They should have known no matter how discrete it was.

If we knew that there were such a big armed attack, strike, I would have addressed my colleagues. We wouldn’t have let this happen, but we ran out of resources.

Mr President, how do you answer to those international and national criticisms, that your government consists of your own family members, that you put your family first before your people, that you promoted your brothers and son to extreme positions? That is nepotism, is it not?

For the past few years the opposition states that there is nepotism, tribalism. Such talks were there during Akayev’s time. This will be told during my rule, and during the term of the next president as well. Who will have family, if only there is a bachelor president, he has no wife, no kids, then they won’t be talking about nepotism.

I’m proud that I have, we were seven, now we are six brothers, and all my brothers, people present here, know that they have earned everything with their intelligence, with their hands, with their work.

There is not one among them who would become a big millionaire, big businessman – they all have medium-small businesses.

Do you accept that the UN peacekeeping forces, is that what you’re saying, will draw a line across Kyrgyzstan, will create a civil conflict, divided between north and south?

No, no no. But let me finish about my family stuff. I have two sons, an elder and a younger one. My elder son has been working in the security service, he’s been working – he’s a colonel now – for 15 years. He got there when I was an ordinary middle ranking manager.

Many opposition members don’t like my second son, Maxim. Why do they not like him? He doesn’t give many people a chance to steal – many, even members of government, many businessmen, who want to bypass the law etc.

He, as a high-ranking businessman, know all about this, and that’s why he doesn’t let them steal. That’s first of all why they don’t like him.

Second, he isn’t liked because he now as a director of the Central Agency of Development and Investment (CADI), he has enormous – not he – but the agency funds, resources.

Why did I appoint him as a director? In order to prevent investments from being stolen, like during Akayev times. I mean once I have appointed my son, it means I bear the responsibility on my head. I am as a father saying, if once I have appointed my son, I mean that this money will go to the people of Kyrgyzstan, for and to Kyrgyzstan, and not to fill my own pocket.

If I wanted to get rich on investments I would appoint a complete stranger, and I would do it through him. But if I appointed my son, it’s a statement: I want all coming investments to Kyrgyzstan to be directed to the people’s needs, for Kyrgyzstan, to make people’s lives better.

One last confirmation that you have no intention, under any circumstances, of walking away in this situation? Can you give us a timeline, when you will address the Kyrgyz people and tell them what your plans are?

I’m not going to resign, so far. I don’t see any reason for it. I can’t resign due to the fact that a small group of armed people having provoked and seized power with guns and bloodshed. But why should I ignore the opinion of the general population, the whole population?

Besides, I have already told you that elections were held literally eight months ago. Why should I ignore the Kurultai consent, which was held two weeks ago? Why during the Kurultai, nobody told me: “Mr President. You have to go!” I would have left if they told me at Kurultai, but there were no such talks. I mean, is it possibility for two weeks to change so dramatically public opinion?

Would you be willing to share power with the opposition? To make reforms?

I’m ready to have a negotiation with then. We have to enter the legal framework. We have a constitution, we have laws, everything they’re doing now, it’s all illegal.

How can you accomplish that? How are they going to work with other states, with organisations, if the legal acts and papers they’re working on have no legal basis?

Are you aware of the irony of your position? You’re in the same position as the previous president Akayev? You were installed as legitimately as he was. The opposition in Kyrgyzstan says that they will hold elections in six months time.

I don’t think so, I don’t agree. If you’re interested to know why, I will tell you. Do you want to know?

Yes, everybody wants to know

Why Akayev fled the country, because there was such a situation in the country, that all people rose up, against Akayev. And he had to leave the country. Now the state of affairs is not like that. It’s different.

Today a small group of armed people prepared people, managed to organise on such a level, and seized the White House. And I should leave because of it? I don’t see any reason.

The bloodshed, I want to repeat, bloodshed, I don’t want to blame anybody, but in order to make everything clear, in order to find out who really is guilty in the death of those innocent people, our young people, I am pleading for an independent international commission.

And if the commission concludes – I have to repeat one more time – that I am guilty, I’m ready to bear the full responsibility. But I know that it’s not like that.

Source : Al Jazeera


More from News
Most Read