Kyrgyzstan's President Accuses Britain of “Dirty Lies”

Almas Atambayev, President of Kyrgyzstan, blasted the British government for “hosting” the son of the country's ousted dictator in an interview with the Guardian last week. As the dust settles, Kyrgyz netizens are still weighing up the wisdom of his outburst.

Atambayev's interview with The Guardian's Maxton Walker broached a range of issues including the Tsarnaev brothers, democracy and Islam in Central Asia, street protests and political stability in Kyrgyzstan. But when it came to his country's failure to extradite Maksim Bakiyev – “a guy who robbed us” – Atambayev could barely contain his wrath:

Atambayev was quoted as saying the following:

Is Britain hosting the kids of [Muammar] Gaddafi or Bashar al-Assad? Why are there double standards against Kyrgyzstan? Britain is saying: ‘We want to help with democratic development in Kyrgyzstan.’ That's a lie. You're hosting a guy who robbed us. We could use that money to fund fair elections…I spent 20 years in opposition and have always fought for democracy but I didn't know that behind the beautiful words of democracy are very dirty lies. That's terrible. Britain is one of the founders of democracy and it's impossible to understand its actions against us. I am ashamed for Great Britain and didn't expect politics to be this cynical and corrupt.

Maksim Bakiyev – Kyrgyzstan's Enemy No. 1

In Kyrgyzstan, Maksim Bakiyev needs no introduction. The son of the Central Asian republic's second President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, he headed “ЦАРИИ” – the Central Agency for Development, Investments and Innovations in Kyrgyzstan (an acronym that sounds very close to “Tsar”, the Russian word for “King”) before the Bakiyev family were ousted in 2010. His local reputation was that of a corrupt criminal expanding his wealth through via family connections and a clique of shady international banking types. Immediately after the revolt he landed in a private jet at Farnborough Airport in Hampshire, UK where he has applied for asylum. Kyrgyz authorities have accused him of stealing several hundred million dollars from the country and a Kyrgyz court sentenced him to 25 years in absentia for three violations of the Kyrgyz criminal code in March of last year.

Maksim Bakiyev (image widely shared. Taken from

Maksim Bakiyev (image widely shared. Taken from

On October 2012, the United States also initiated a trial against Maksim Bakiyev on charges of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and obstruction of justice. He was immediately arrested in London and released on bail. In May 2013, the US department of Justice decided to close the investigation because there was “not enough evidence” of wrongdoing. Some have connected Maksim's arrest and the subsequent dropping of charges to geopolitical maneuvers surrounding America's Air base in the country, scheduled to close next year.

Righteous fury or empty bluster?

Despite Bakiyev's unpopularity however, not all netizens were supportive of Atambayev's tirade against Great Britain. On the Vecherniy Bishkek newspaper's website a translated version of the Guardian article attracted a host of comments.

312 wrote [ru]:

- “Мне стыдно за Великобританию”
АША когда Вам будет за себя стыдно? Когда будет стыдно что одних кыргызов низачто сажаешь, а Батукаева выпускаешь… Вам не стыдно распильщика назначать министром? Не стыдно что за 3 года Таджикистан обогнал по ВВП на 10 позиций? Не стыдно что отец убийцы спокойно работает мэром?.. Не смешите народ, как бы великобритания турецкие счета не заморозила….- “I am ashamed for Great Britain”

- “I feel shame for Great Britain”

Almazbek Sharshenovich Atambayev, when will you feel shame for yourself? When will you be ashamed that some Kyrgyz guys are imprisoned for nothing while Batukayev [crime boss] is released… When will you feel shame for appointing a thief to the position of Minister? Aren't you ashamed that Tajikistan has overtaken [us] by 10 positions in GDP? Isn't it a shame for you that the father of a killer is working as the Mayor of Bishkek?.. Don't make people laugh, be wary that the British might arrange to have [your] Turkish accounts frozen….

vb said [ru]:

Для экстрадиции нужны доказательства. Не просто так верните его к нам, мы приговорили его заочно к 25 годам. Украденные деньги использовали бы на проведение честных выборов. Денег не было поэтому выборы не честно прошли? Вам не хватило награбленного во время апрельских событий?

You need [appropriate] evidence for extradition. It's not enough just to ask them to return him because we have sentenced him 25 years of imprisonment. [You say] you would use those stolen money for fair elections. There was no money so does that mean the elections [that brought Atambayev to power] were not fair? Isn't everything that you stole during the April events [revolution of 2010] enough for you?

Акрам replied [ru]:

Правильно всё сказал АША. Англия давно стала местом отстоя террористов и воров из бывшего СССР

[Atambayev] said everything as it is. England has already become a place where terrorists and thieves from the former Soviet Union can hide.

Алинур (Alinur) wrote [ru]:

А что жалуютесь, кричать и бранить в том, что скрывают вора и преступника, сами же помогали им бежать.

Why are you complaining, screaming and apportioning blame that they hide [our] thief and gangster, when it was you [Atambayev] who helped him to escape.

On the website of Akipress news agency, Frunze17 reacted [ru]:

Атамбаев 20 лет боролся не за демократию, а за власть, которую в итоге получил. И стыдиться ему надо не за Великобританию (сильное и социально ориентированное государство), а за себя, за свою неспособность управлять страной, в которой развалена экономика, власти жируют, а пенсионеры и дети голодают. И что такое демократия он тоже не знает.

Atambayev fought for 20 years not for democracy, but for power, which he has already got. And he should be ashamed not for Great Britain (it's a strong and socially-oriented state) but for himself and for his inability to manage the country where the economy is ruined and authorities live like the kings while pensioners and children are hungry. He doesn't even know what democracy is.

BekAskar noted [ru] Atambayev's own double standards:

У Атамбаева самого двойные стандарты. Почему он не говорит про Россию, которая приютила вора и коррупционера Аскара Акаева вырастившего Бакиева с сыновьми и братьями.

Atambayev himself has double standards. Why doesn't he speak about Russia, which hides another thief and corrupt [politician] Askar Akaev [first president of Kyrgyzstan] who set up the regime of Bakiyev and his sons and brothers.

03kg said:

боже ты мой! мне стыдно! не дипломатично как то получилось! как мужик в колхозе

Oh my God! I am embaressed! [Atambayev's speech] turned out rather undiplomatic! Like a man from a collective farm!

Runi offered a rare comment in support of the President [ru]:

Все больше уважаю нашего президента. Действительно очень правильно он подметил – у Англии, США, да и всего Евросоюза двойные стандарты. Когда им НАДО, то они такой вой поднимут, что права человека нарушаются. А когда им не надо, они молчат и ничего не видят. Это по их вине происходят войны. Они хотят чувствовать себя хозяевами Земли. В принципе оно так и есть, к сожалению.

I respect our president more and more. Indeed, he noticed correctly – England and the USA as well as the whole European Union has double standards. When they NEED it, they start to howl about human rights abuses. But when they don't need it, they keep silent and pretend they don't see anything. They are guilty of starting wars. They want to feel like  the owners of the globe. Unfortunately, they probably are.

But Nurek twisted the knife [ru] with a joke about Atambayev's alleged penchant for a shot or two of vodka.

Больше ему не наливать…..

Don't fill [his glass up] anymore…

This post is part of the GV Central Asia Interns Project at the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

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