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Corruption and revolution, the historical context of corruption in Kyrgyzstan

Cases of corruption and revolution are the norms in the history of Kyrgyzstan as it was seen of the history of the country. In March 24th, 2005, President Akayev deserted his post shortly after the Tulip Revolution that began after the parliamentary elections of February 27th and March 13th, 2005. The revolution was as a result of alleged corruption and authoritarianism of Akayev, his families, and his supporters.  The outing of Akayev led to the succession of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev who was the acting president. President Kurmanbek Bakiev switched his beam light on the activities of the past president.

In mid-April, President Kurmanbek created a commission to investigate the assets and properties related to the Akayev families and the commission was headed by the Deputy Prime minister Daniyar Usenov. The commission announced tentative lists of 42 businesses to be checked for the ties of Akayev clan and also he made it known that the commission will also investigate the money transfer through offshore routes[1].

On 27th of April, during a press conference to discuss the efforts of the commission, the commission declared that it was difficult for it to determine who controlled many of the companies on the lists and the actions of the commission to link corruption ended in Usenov saying that the focus on corruption should be on future compliance rather than past wrongdoing. He further said “we are not asking about what happened yesterday, otherwise – we will have to put half the country in jail”

The famous word of Usenov was as a result of the findings of the commission he led a majority of those who are found in the pool of Akayev corruption are high-ranking officials of the Kurmanbek administration.

Just as in the case of Akaev, President Bakiyev was forced to flee the country to the city of Osh as a result of corruption which was linked to his administration[2].  During the tenure of Bakiyev, he appointed his son, Maxim Bakiev into the nation development agencies and it was alleged that Maxim placed $35 million from a $300 million loan from Russia into his private account[3].

One expert while speaking about the riot that led Bakiyev out of office said the government had triggered the protests by imposing punitive increases on tariffs for water and gas[4].

Just like Akayiev, Bakiyev was also dethroned with the same cases of corruption.

The Cases of Corruption Charges in Kyrgyzstan

On March 27th, 2017, the leader of Kyrgyzstan’s opposition Ata-Meken (Fatherland) was charged with corruption and according to The State Committee for National Security (UKMK), he was ordered not to leave the country as he was linked with corruption while serving as an auditor at the State Accounting Chamber in 2011[5].

On March 31st, 2017, The State Committee for National Security said that Muzaffar Isakov who is a lawmaker representing the pro-presidential Social Democratic Party was ordered not to leave Bishkek while investigation against him was underway. Isakov was accused of having been involved in an illegal property-distribution scheme while governing a town in the southern region of Jalal-Abad between 2010 and 2015[6].

The Challenges of Anti-Corruption Reform

According to Business Anti-Corruption Report, corruption is a common thing in all sector of Kyrgyzstan while bribery is a common part of doing business in the country. Apart from petty corruption, business is likely to experience favoritism and political interference[7].

In recent years, several reforms have been put in place by the government but the corrupt judiciary undermines the effectiveness of the government reforms. In accordance to a report by Transparency.org, The judiciary and law enforcement institutions are not independent and are plagued by corruption. The US Department of State in 2011 said that the judiciary is the most corrupt institution in Kyrgyzstan. And yet in another survey, more than 70% of business people said they are having no trust in the judiciary system of the country[8].

And asides that, the diplomat in its October 2015 report on the Kyrgyzstan’s Anti-corruption failure criticizes the government approach to corruption by saying that the government’s approach to corruption is on the corruption perception rather than a campaign against the forces driving institutionalized corruption. It further reported that the emphasis on creating hardline anti-corruption image has caused high-profile elites to be indicted in corruption while lesser-known officials have been left undisturbed[9].

NOTE: Kyrgyzstan was ranked 136th out of 176 countries according to the 2016 Transparency International corruption index.



[1] http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/business/articles/pp050505.shtml

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/apr/07/kyrgyzstan-riots

[3] https://sputniknews.com/world/20100416158613170/

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/apr/08/kyrgyzstan-opposition-demands-bakiyev-resignation

[5] https://www.rferl.org/a/kyrgyzstan-opposition-leader-charged-with-corruption/28393423.html

[6] https://www.rferl.org/a/kyrgyzstan-lawmaker-isakov-pro-government-charged-corruption/28403757.html

[7] http://www.business-anti-corruption.com/country-profiles/kyrgyzstan


[9] https://thediplomat.com/2015/10/kyrgyzstans-anti-corruption-failure/


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