06 April 2006

More on Ryspek

I talked with the students about Ryspek yesterday and they were very pessimistic about the entire situation. Ryspek is not well-liked at all, except in Balykchy, where he will be elected. (One reason for dropping the regional system of elections currently in place.) They were disgusted with the Supreme Court. They felt this would damage Kyrgyzstan reputation even more at a time when they'd thought it couldn't go much lower. They are not very positive about the direction this country is going.

Here is a very short history about Ryspek and how he got to the point of joining Parliament:

He was charged with committing several murders in 1998. He was on the run for most of the early part of this decade until he returned to Kyrgyzstan in May of 2005 after a deal with then-chief prosecutor Beknazarov.* His brother, a member of Parliament, was killed in prison riots in September 2005 and Ryspek accuses Kulov, the prime minister, of being connected. He staged demonstrations in Bishkek in October.

The murder charges against Rypsek were dropped in early 2006 on a legal formality (I've heard that it was one of several different formalities, but it definitely wasn't based on his innocence).

Ryspek decided he wanted to run for his brother's seat in Parliament. There were two problems though- his past criminal history and the fact that he hasn't lived in Kyrgyzstan for most of the last five years to fulfill the residency requirement for Parliament. An election commission ruled that he couldn't run based on these two issues (brave folks), so Ryspek staged another demonstration last Friday. There was real concern about that one. Bakiev talked to Ryspek and crew and told them to wait for the court decision.

And, handily, the courts ruled in Ryspek's favor. It's interesting to hear what people have to say about Bakiev. It seems that they feel he handled the demonstration on Friday well, but not many are impressed with the court's decision. The question is whether there was pressure from Bakiev to rule in Ryspek's favor, or if the courts are simply afraid of Ryspek.

*Beknazarov was fired by Bakiev in September of 2005. It's thought that he was getting too close to something Bakiev didn't want known during his investigations into criminal activity and corruption. Beknazarov's arrest in 2002 by Akaev's government was what started the events in Aksy where five people were killed by the government in March 2002. That is often considered to be the true beginning of the revolution and also forced Bakiev's resignation, who was then prime minister under Akaev. All these interesting little connections.

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