On October 16, 11 days after he was sprung from jail, Kyrgyzstan’s new leader Sadyr Japarov laid out a manifesto of sorts, with the fight against crime and corruption getting top billing.Speaking of the turbulence that paved his path to power, Japarov said it had “opened a new page in the history of the revival of national identity.” The upcoming war on corruption would be based on “simple and enforceable laws that work the same for everyone,” he said.
Organized crime would stop “dictating terms” on which business is done, he insisted.
His early endeavors to follow through on those pledges are only fueling suspicion, however.
The State National Security Committee, known by its Russian acronym, GKNB, has since October 16 been headed by Japarov’s old and close personal friend, Kamchybek Tashiyev. This body is the tip of the spear in the government’s stated intent to purge the country of its crooks.
To accept the official narrative at face value, things have got off to a roaring start.
On October 20, Rayimbek Matraimov, an elusive, former top customs service official whose name has for anti-corruption activists become a byword for graft, decided to hand himself in to GKNB officers at a gas station across the road the security services building.
Japarov had name-checked Matraimov in his address, insisting he would “face justice.”
But a judge ruled to immediately release Matraimov and allow him to remain under house arrest. The GKNB said he had already begun paying back $24 million in damages owed to the state. That sum is markedly lower than the $700 million that investigative journalists claim he has siphoned out of the country over the years.