possible involvement of Tashkent in Alisher Saipov’s death, there is concern 
that a thorough investigation will prove impossible for political reasons.  By 
Gulnara Mambetalieva in Bishkek

Alisher Saipov may deter others from reporting on sensitive topics, and some of 
his colleagues think that is why he was gunned down.  By Taalai Amanov in 

TURKMEN POLICE REFORMS INSUFFICIENT  Even repeated purges of senior interior 
ministry staff will not reduce abuses by an overbearing police force, say 
analysts.  By IWPR staff in Central Asia in Bishkek


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As suspicions grow about the possible involvement of Tashkent in Alisher 
Saipov’s death, there is concern that a thorough investigation will prove 
impossible for political reasons.

By Gulnara Mambetalieva in Bishkek

Despite the high priority given to the investigation into the killing of 
leading journalist Alisher Saipov in southern Kyrgyzstan, there are fears that 
the investigation will be inconclusive because lines of enquiry leading into 
neighbouring Uzbekistan will not be followed up. 

A Kyrgyz interior ministry spokesman has suggested one possible lead – that the 
Uzbek secret police came across the border and assassinated Saipov, who was 
shot dead on October 24 in the city of Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan. Many 
analysts interviewed by IWPR agree this is a strong possibility, but fear the 
police will not be able to take the matter much further both because the Uzbek 
authorities will be uncooperative, and because their own government will not 
want to strain an already difficult diplomatic relationship.

Saipov worked with Fergana.ru, a major Russian-language website covering 
Central Asia, as well as with Radio Liberty and Voice of America. Earlier this 
year, he founded a newspaper called Siyosat (Politics) that covered events in 
Uzbekistan as well as his native Kyrgyzstan. Siyosat circulated widely in 
Uzbekistan’s Fergana Valley, which adjoins the Osh region. 

The authorities in Uzbekistan – who heavily censor domestic media - were 
clearly annoyed by the emergence of an independent, critical publication which 
was all the more accessible to local readers because it was in Uzbek. 

The Kyrgyz authorities are taking the murder seriously, and President Kurmanbek 
Bakiev will personally oversee the police investigation. “We will not allow 
criminals to intimidate people by killing journalists,” he said. Major-General 
Omurbek Suvanaliev, who heads the defence and security affairs department in 
the presidential administration, has been dispatched to Osh.


The Kyrgyz interior ministry says it is looking at a number of possible 
motives, and spokesman Bakyt Seitov told the Reuters news agency that the Uzbek 
secret service might have been involved.

"One of the versions is the possibility of involvement of Uzbek security 
services, because he constantly criticised Karimov's policies and the Uzbek 
government in his newspaper," Seitov told the agency, in a report from October 

Kyrgyzstan’s human rights ombudsman, Tursunbay Bakir Uulu, has cited his own 
country’s secret service as saying its Uzbek counterparts “ordered the 
journalist’s murder”.

Colleagues and relatives of the late Saipov say he told them on several 
occasions that he had been threatened by the Uzbek security service over his 
critical reporting of the political system in Uzbekistan.

“Just two days before he was shot dead, Alisher Saipov told his friends that he 
thought he was being followed by Uzbek security services. But he always said he 
believed he would be safe on the Kyrgyz side of the border,” the BBC’s Central 
Asia correspondent Natalia Antelava wrote in a dispatch.

“They wanted to kill Saipov long ago. He was a serious obstacle to the regime 
in Uzbekistan,” said Hulkar Isamova, an Osh journalist who produces the 
Rezonans programme on the local Mezon television station. “But this killing by 
the Uzbek intelligence services was also a deterrent for other journalists.” 

Edil Baisalov, a leading Kyrgyz politician, agrees that apart from eliminating 
Saipov, the intention was to intimidate other journalists, especially in and 
around Osh.

“Now that Saipov has been killed, there is one less source of accurate 
information from Central Asia,” he said. “This killing is not simply 
retribution for his journalistic activity, it is a warning to others. The 
bloodthirsty, dictatorial regime is saying, ‘We have a long reach.’”

The implications of Saipov’s death on other journalists in the region is 
examined in “Journalist’s Murder Sets Back Free Speech in Central Asia” (RCA 
No. 513, 02-Nov-07 http://www.iwpr.net/?p=rca&s=f&o=340323&apc_state=henh).


Having stated that the Uzbek security service is a possible culprit, Kyrgyz 
police investigators might now be expected to pursue this line of enquiry 
forcefully in Tashkent. However, few analysts in Kyrgyzstan believe this will 

“One can say there is an Uzbek lead in Alisher Saipov’s murder,” said Ilim 
Karypbekov, director of the Media Representative Institute, a non-government 
watchdog organisation. “I do not believe a comprehensive and objective 
investigation will be carried out, and there are several factors that point in 
that direction.” 

A thorough investigation would require the Kyrgyz authorities to gain access to 
Uzbekistan and ask some difficult questions. Karypbekov doubt that the Kyrgyz 
will have the political will to pin a murder charge on the security service of 
a powerful neighbour on which it is economically dependent. 

Kyrgyz-Uzbek relations have been fraught over many years. Tashkent has regarded 
Kyrgyzstan’s relatively liberal political, media and civil-society environment 
as a threat to its own authoritarian system, and at moments of tension has 
expressed its hostility by cutting crucial gas supplied to its smaller 

Tashkent was particularly concerned by the Kyrgyz revolution of March 2005, in 
which President Askar Akaev was ousted by opposition forces including the 
current head of state, Bakiev. Violence in the Fergana Valley city of Andijan 
in May that year, in which the Uzbek security forces shot into a crowd of 
demonstrators, killing hundreds, will only have reinforced Tashkent’s suspicion 
of popular movements that express themselves in mass protests.


When hundreds of Uzbek refugees fled from Andijan across the border into 
Kyrgyzstan, Bakiev – then still only acting head of state - had to tread a 
careful line between his government’s international human rights obligations 
and Tashkent’s demand that he should not shelter people it regarded as 
ringleaders of the revolt.

Although some of the refugees were allowed to leave for third countries, there 
is evidence that the Bakiev administration quietly gave its assent for 
Uzbekistan’s National Security Service, SNB, to send officers into southern 
Kyrgyzstan to abduct individuals. (See “Andijan Refugees Sent Back to 
Uzbekistan”. RCA No. 462, 26-Aug-06 

“It’s incontrovertible that the Uzbek secret service carries out certain 
activities in Kyrgyzstan, and that these activities go beyond the limits of the 
interdepartmental agreements between the two countries,” said Karypbekov.

Kadyr Malikov, an academic from Kyrgyzstan who is currently professor of 
political sciences and Islamic studies at Madrid University, says there have 
been a number of cases where the SNB has conducted raids in Kyrgyzstan 
sometimes with the covert agreement of the authorities there, sometimes without 

Malikov recalled one particularly notorious incident in August 2006 - the 
killing of prominent Islamic cleric Mohammadrafiq Kamalov, also known as Rafiq 
Qori Kamoliddin. Kamolov was shot dead with two other men in what Kyrgyz 
security sources said was a counter-terrorism operation conducted jointly with 
their Uzbek counterparts.

Baisalov says such incidents establish an unfortunate precedent for Uzbek 
security officers to operate with impunity on Kyrgyz territory.

“Dozens of people been abducted from our territory, including Kyrgyz nationals. 
And every time it happens, Kyrgyzstan creates a precedent for foreign citizens 
and their secret service to operate with a free hand,” he said. 

There is no suggestion that if the SNB is responsible for Saipov’s death, the 
Kyrgyz security services were complicit. But indications that they have worked 
together or liaised on previous operations will add to the difficulties of 
investigating the murder in an unbiased manner. 


Baisalov, like many of the analysts interviewed for this report, is alarmed at 
what looks like a concerted attempt to smear the late Saipov’s reputation in an 
attempt to explain away his death and deflect attention from politically 
problematic lines of enquiry. 

“The reaction of our law-enforcement agencies indicates that they are trying to 
shift the blame onto some kind of extremist connections,” he said. 

An October 31 statement from the Kyrgyz interior ministry hinted that Saipov 
had got too close to radical Islamic groups and the Uzbek opposition-in-exile, 
and did not refer to other possible culprits. The statement, which listed 
evidence of Saipov’s journalistic contacts found when police searched his 
office, read almost as though he himself were a crime suspect. 

The statement said Saipov had been in contact with leaders of the Islamic 
Movement of Uzbekistan, IMU, in Iran. It said he was reported to have met IMU 
leader Tahir Yuldashev in April or May 2007 and that he “regularly received 
payments” from him. 

The IMU is a guerrilla group that mounted a series of armed raids into Uzbek 
and Kyrgyz territory between 1999 and 2001. It retreated south with its Taleban 
allies after the United-States-led Coalition entered Afghanistan in late 2001, 
and is now believed to be hiding out in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier 
Province, NWFP. In earlier years, Yuldashev spent time in Iran, but he is 
thought to have been in NWFP, specifically in Waziristan, since 2001.

The interior ministry statement also cited allegations that Saipov was in 
contact with Hizb-ut-Tahrir, another Islamic group outlawed in Kyrgyzstan, as 
well as with Muhammed Salih, the leader of the Uzbek opposition party Erk, who 
lives in emigration in Europe. Erk leaflets and publications were found in 
Saipov’s office, the statement said.

The statement did not offer a possible motive for either Islamists or the 
opposition to carry out the murder, but said police had identified suspects who 
were now on the wanted list. 

Finally, the interior ministry highlighted the fact that the Siyosat newspaper 
had received grant funding from the United States National Endowment for 
Democracy. This does not in fact mark Saipov’s paper out – many non-government 
organisations, NGOs, in Kyrgyzstan are donor-funded.

It is unclear why these lines of enquiry are being pursued, but they sound 
uncomfortably close to the kind of black propaganda the Uzbek state media were 
putting out about Saipov before his death. 

The state-controlled media in Uzbekistan have remained largely silent on 
Saipov’s death. On November 11, however, the smear campaign resumed when 
Press-uz.info news agency carried a statement signed “in the name of Andijan 
journalists” by Hamidjon Numanov and Nazirjon Saidov, identified as the head 
and a member, respectively, of the provincial branch of the Union of 
Journalists of Uzbekistan. Saipov “fulfilled the orders given by his foreign 
sponsors 100 per cent”.

“Saipov may, because he was young, have become a plaything in the hands of 
western secret services,” it said. 

The Uzbek leadership was closely aligned with western governments when the “war 
on terror” began in 2001, providing the United States with the use of an 
airbase for military flights into Afghanistan. That all changed after Andijan, 
when international calls for an independent investigation led Tashkent to close 
the US base and turn its face towards Moscow. It began accusing western spies – 
working with Islamic militants – of organising the Andijan violence, and pushed 
western NGOs and media outlets out of the country, suggesting that many were 
merely proxies for the subversive activities of their governments.

The Andijan journalists’ statement contained a number of contradictions, 
praising Saipov as well as damning him, and talking of “complete freedom of 
speech” enjoyed by Kyrgyzstan’s journalists, a luxury which appeared to be 
marred only by the inability of their “passive” police force to protect them. 

RFE/RL reports that a regional TV station in Uzbekistan showed a programme on 
October 29 with similar content, alleging that Saipov worked for "evil forces" 
and was "controlled from abroad”. 


Having assumed oversight of the murder investigation, President Bakiev finds 
himself in a difficult position. International and domestic pressure for a 
proper investigation that bears conclusive results may be hard to square with 
the realpolitik of living next door to Uzbekistan. The temptation may be to 
drag out the investigation. 

“It’s unlikely that the Kyrgyz authorities will be able to present Uzbekistan 
openly with any allegations,” said Malikov.

“The authorities are currently in a position where they have to do their best 
not to damage Kyrgyzstan’s positive international reputation, and 
simultaneously to get out of this situation with the minimum loss,” he said. 

Tursunbek Akun, who chairs the Kyrgyz presidential Commission for Human Rights 
is sure the investigation will be thorough. “There are a number of 
international memorandums on how to conduct this kind of investigation, and I 
think it is 60 or 70 per cent likely that it will be done in an objective 
manner,” he said.

If, however, the authorities fail to ensure a fair and transparent 
investigation, the damage – at home as well as abroad - could involve more than 
a loss of face. “It will undermine the regime’s authority, and [show that] it 
cannot protect its own citizens from abuse – in other words that the law is not 
working. That would then suggest that the lawful state exists only in formal 
terms,” said Malikov. 

Gulnara Mambetalieva is an IWPR contributor in Bishkek. Taalai Amanov, also an 
IWPR contributor, provided some additional reporting.


The killing of Alisher Saipov may deter others from reporting on sensitive 
topics, and some of his colleagues think that is why he was gunned down.

By Taalai Amanov in Bishkek

The murder of Alisher Saipov, a noted journalist in southern Kyrgyzstan, is a 
major setback to the right to report freely in Central Asia, especially on the 
sensitive political situation in Uzbekistan. 

Saipov, 26, was killed by three gunshots on the evening of October 24 in the 
centre of Osh, the major city in the south of Kyrgyzstan. 

Kyrgyzstan, where the political climate is more liberal than its neighbours, 
has been left in shock by the deliberate targeting of a high-profile 
journalist. No arrests have been made, but many commentators believe Saipov was 
eliminated because of his critical reporting on the regime in Uzbekistan. 

He worked with Fergana.ru, a major Russian-language website covering Central 
Asia, as well as with Radio Liberty and Voice of America. Earlier this year, he 
founded an Uzbek-language newspaper Siyosat (Politics) that covered events in 
Uzbekistan as well as his native Kyrgyzstan. 

According to Aziza Abdurasulova, a human rights activist in Kyrgyzstan, Siyosat 
was very popular in the Fergana Valley region of Uzbekistan, next door to Osh. 

The murder was condemned around the world as well as in Kyrgyzstan. 

“I am shocked and saddened by the brutal assassination of Alisher Saipov - one 
of the most promising young journalists from Kyrgyzstan, well known in his 
country and abroad," said Miklos Haraszti, the OSCE Representative on Freedom 
of the Media. 

Hulkar Isamova, an Osh journalist who produces the Rezonans programme on the 
local Mezon television station, told IWPR that Saipov’s death had made many 
local journalists think about their own security. 

“As a human being, I am afraid and I shudder every time I get a phone call, but 
as a journalist I do not get intimidated by that. In contrast, it has made us 
angry and we have rallied together,” she said.

Like many others, Isamova believes it is no coincidence that Saipov was 
silenced in the run-up to the Uzbek presidential election scheduled for 
December 23, to prevent alternative viewpoints being heard. 

Many analysts and journalists suspect the hand of the Uzbek secret service. 
Saipov had reported being threatened on several occasions, and the 
state-controlled media in Uzbekistan had run what looked like a concerted 
campaign to blacken his reputation. 

“They wanted to kill Saipov long ago. He was a serious obstacle to the regime 
in Uzbekistan. But this killing by the Uzbek intelligence services was also a 
deterrent for other journalists,” said Isamova. 

The Uzbek authorities have not commented on Saipov’s death. 

Edil Baisalov, a leading Kyrgyz politician, said, “Now that Saipov has been 
killed, there is one less source of accurate information from Central Asia. 
This killing is not simply retribution for his journalistic activity, it is a 
warning to others. The bloodthirsty, dictatorial regime is saying, ‘We have a 
long reach.’”

Baisalov says that message is intended first and foremost for journalists in 
Osh, an area with a large ethnic Uzbek population. “It is also a signal to the 
international journalists including foreigners who work here. In the run-up to 
the presidential election, those journalists and human rights activists who 
have based their press centres in Kyrgyzstan and Osh because of the liberal 
regime have realised how dangerous it is to work there,” he said.

Ulughbek Babakulov, chief editor of the human rights newspaper Golos Svobody 
(Voice of Freedom) knew Saipov personally, and says the way the murder was 
carried out, as a very public hit, suggests it was designed to intimidate 

“If they’d simply wanted to get rid of him, they would have done it in secrecy. 
But he was shot in the city centre during the daytime, with a loud noise as 
they didn’t use a silencer,” said Babakulov. “This was done so as to scare 
journalists and indeed everyone who tries to stand up to the regime in 

Babakulov fears that many local journalists will stop working as a result, but 
he believes information will keep flowing, “There will be people who continue 
to say what is going on there. They are mainly western journalists, or people 
who have managed to get to the West and work independently – they will keep 
writing about what’s happening in Uzbekistan.”

Inside Uzbekistan, he added, “there have been no independent journalists for a 
long time, so there won’t be any independent coverage of the elections or 
reporting about what’s actually going on there”. 

Baisalov agrees that “the intimidation is taking place especially for the 
election period”.

No one is in any doubt who will win the election – the incumbent president 
Islam Karimov. A handful of other candidates are standing but they are minor 
figures whose nominations have been sanctioned by the regime to create a show 
of political competition.

Officials in Tashkent have been unusually tight-lipped about this year’s 
ballot, announcing a firm date more or less at the last possible moment. One 
possible explanation is that it is not easy to explain why Karimov has the 
constitutional right to stand at all. 

The president, who has been in power since Soviet times, began the first of two 
five-year terms to which he was entitled back in 1991. He stayed on through a 
series of constitutional fixes prolonging his term in office. In the past, 
Uzbek officials were generally up front about the various changes, and were at 
pains to explain why they should be seen as legitimate. 

Now the range of legal mechanisms seems to have been exhausted, and with them 
the answers to difficult questions posed by critics like Saipov. 

Abdirasulova is convinced that the Uzbek authorities will attempt to close off 
any source of information and debate about this sensitive vote.;

“In my opinion, there will be minimal coverage of the presidential election 
inside Uzbekistan,” she said. “He [Saipov] at least had an opportunity to write 
about what was going on there from Kyrgyzstan, but in the wake of his death, 
the Uzbek authorities will most likely not allow any criticism. Thus the screws 
are being tightened to the extreme.” 

The BBC correspondent in Central Asia, Natalia Antelava, agrees that Saipov’s 
death leaves a big gap in reporting on the Uzbek election.

“I think his absence will have a dramatic effect on media coverage of elections 
in Uzbekistan because his newspaper was nearly the only media, besides the 
internet, that gave an alternative point of view,” she told IWPR. “For Alisher, 
who reported on Uzbekistan, elections naturally became the biggest story, and 
indeed he would have been that alternative voice that people in Uzbekistan do 
not have.” 

The killing of a leading journalist has implications which will be felt in 
other Central Asian countries, too. 

“Saipov’s murder shows that the price for freedom of speech in Central Asia is 
the life of a journalist,” said Abdurasulova. “His death is a threat to the 
foundations of democracy. There’s no doubt that journalists… in all the Central 
Asian states will be intimidated and will become less critical of existing 
authoritarian regimes, and of emerging ones too. 

Dosym Satpaev, director of the Political Risk Assessment Group in Kazakstan, 
said that while the extent of media freedom varies across Central Asia, none 
are really free. “This fact unites all the Central Asian states, because power 
in these countries is concentrated in the hands of either one individual or a 
small group. To preserve their power, these groups are willing to do many 
things, above all to control access to information.” 

Actions ranging from murder to closing down websites have the same aim, said 
Satpaev – “removing alternative forms of information that annoy the 

Antelava added, “Alisher was one of the few who kept on doing real journalism 
in a region where that is dying out. Therefore, I think this [murder]… is an 
extremely tough blow for that small amount of freedom of speech that still 

Tolekan Ismailova, who leads Citizens Against Corruption, a pressure group in 
Kyrgyzstan, hopes that Central Asia’s journalists will derive strength from 
their colleague’s death rather than being cowed by it.

“This murder will spread even greater fear in society. But I think his death 
should instead encourage journalists and mobilise activists because he stood 
for freedom of speech,” said Ismailova. “This brutal murder is a challenge to 
the entire journalistic community, to everyone working for free speech, and to 
the entire Central Asian human rights movement.”

Taalai Amanov is an IWPR contributor in Bishkek.


Even repeated purges of senior interior ministry staff will not reduce abuses 
by an overbearing police force, say analysts.

By IWPR staff in Central Asia in Bishkek

Observers say current attempts to shake up Turkmenistan’s security services are 
positive but will only have a limited effect. Fundamental political and 
cultural changes will be needed if the police are to stop behaving as the 
repressive arm of the state and start respecting the rule of law, they say. 

In the last six months, President Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov has taken a series 
of steps to reform his law-enforcement agencies, including sacking ministers, 
reshuffling staff and responsibilities, and establishing a police complaints 

However, analysts say these measures are insufficient; what is needed, they 
say, is a thorough overhaul of both the interior ministry – which controls the 
uniformed police – and the Ministry for National Security, MNB, the successor 
to the Soviet KGB. They are also calling for a sea-change in attitudes to 
policing, which has traditionally been seen as the instrument of state 

Attempts to reform the security ministries began the month after 
Berdymuhammedov came to power in February, when he established a commission to 
investigate complaints made by members of the public against the 
law-enforcement agencies.

Also in March, the interior ministry was relieved of responsibility for 
guarding important military and civilian facilities, but was given the traffic 
police back from the MNB.

In early April, the president fired Interior Minister Akmamed Rahmanov, whom he 
had inherited from his predecessor as president Saparmurad Niazov, who died in 
December. The following month, interior ministry staff began going through an 
appraisal system and some were reassigned to new posts. 

However, these efforts were clearly not enough. On October 8, Berdymuhammedov 
sacked the man he had put in to replace Rahmanov only five months earlier, 
Hojamyrat Annagurbanov. Two deputy interior ministers, Nuryagdy Yagmyrov and 
Muhammetdurdy Ataev, were also dismissed. 

At a meeting at the ministry, the president delivered a blistering attack on 
Annagurbanov and the ministry.

“It’s as if the winds of change haven’t even touched the interior ministry, 
where levels of accountability, competence and rigour have fallen lower than 
ever,” he said.

These abuses were uncovered both in the course of checks carried out on the 
ministry, and from the submissions made to the special complaints commission – 
the number of which, the president said, had recently doubled.

After Berdymuhammedov had finished, Turkmenistan’s chief prosecutor 
Muhammetguly Ogshukov read out a litany of abuses the minister was said to have 
presided over, including taking bribes and fabricating criminal cases.

As part of this latest cull, the chiefs of police in the capital Ashgabat and 
in the northern Dashoguz region have also lost their jobs because of “serious 
shortcomings” in their performance. In his speech, the president revealed that 
more than 300 policemen across the country had been sacked in recent months for 
various misdemeanours.

The focus has been on the interior ministry, but two other security agencies 
that arguably carry more political clout have also seen changes at the top. 

At the same time as he sacked Annagurbanov, the president also removed National 
Security Minister Geldymuhammed Ashirmuhammedov, another holdover from the 
Niazov era. However, while the interior minister was stripped of his police 
rank and all his service benefits, the outgoing MNB chief was simply shunted 
off to a senior post at the country’s Military Academy.

In May, the president got rid of the man many believe engineered his swift 
accession to the presidency after Niazov’s death. Akmurat Rejepov headed the 
Presidential Guards Service, a paramilitary force that was independent of both 
the MNB and the interior ministry. He was dismissed and soon afterwards found 
himself facing a 20-year term in prison.

The Turkmen leader’s attempt to address law enforcement issues has been 
welcomed by some in the country. 

“I think the president is absolutely right not to want to work with people who 
worry about nothing other than lining their own pockets,” said one Ashgabat 
resident, who did not want to be named.

A commentator in the capital welcomed the fact that the police complaints body 
appears to be listening to people. 

“The very fact that the commission exists makes it possible to rein in the 
completely unchecked behaviour of interior ministry, MNB and prosecution 
officials,” he said. “Everyone is aware that in recent years, these 
institutions have taken it in turns to be Niazov’s favourite, and that this 
gave them carte blanche to do things that were often against the law. Interior 
ministry, MNB and prosecution service officials and even ministers were accused 
of trafficking drugs, racketeering, abducting people, driving people to 
suicide, and the like. 

“Now the state leadership wants to hear about such cases from those who 
suffered personally.” 

Several low-ranking members of the interior ministry police said replacing 
senior staff was a significant step. 

“I think it’s going to get easier to be a policeman, since those [top] posts 
were previously held by mafia figures who were bound together by shady 
business,” said a police cadet.

Despite the number of dismissals, however, analysts say Berdymuhammedov’s 
reforms still only scratch the surface. 

“The police force in Turkmenistan long ago became a monster that scares the 
population,” said a local journalist.

A lawyer in Ashgabat said the interior ministry reforms were inadequate as the 
bulk of staff remained in their posts, behaving the same as before.

“The attempt to reform the interior ministry through purges, reshuffles and 
punishment raises many questions…. For instance, how should rank-and-file staff 
who commit offences on a daily basis be dealt with?” asked the lawyer. 

Much of the attention has been on the interior ministry, and less so on the 
MNB, whose role in intelligence-gathering and surveillance on behalf of the 
regime is all-pervasive. 

“The [interior ministry] police are completely subordinate to the MNB, which 
plays a central role in all areas. Reforming law enforcement in isolation is of 
doubtful value – it should be pursued alongside political changes,” said 
Vyacheslav Mamedov, leader of the Civil Democratic Union, a Turkmen émigré 

Tajigul Begmedova, chair of the Turkmenistan Helsinki Foundation for Human 
Rights, which is based in Bulgaria, said the police need a complete change of 
ideology and culture. 

“There is a need to change attitudes to work among law enforcement staff, as 
they are still convinced they are working for a punitive agency,” she said. 
“Most important of all, this change in police attitudes has to be founded on a 
respect for the constitution.” 

Begmedova argues that despite some systemic improvements as a result of 
Berdymuhammedov’s reforms, the police have not become more legally accountable.

“The changes are simply that whereas Niazov kept a grip on everyone and people 
were afraid, that grip has now relaxed or disappeared – but nor is there law, a 
fear of the law,” she said.

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local and international understanding of the region.

IWPR's Reporting Central Asia is supported by the UK Community Fund. The 
service is published online in English and Russian. 

The opinions expressed in Reporting Central Asia are those of the authors and 
do not necessarily represent those of the publication or of IWPR.

REPORTING CENTRAL ASIA: Editor-in-Chief: Anthony Borden; Managing Editor: Yigal 
Chazan; Senior Editor: John MacLeod; Central Asia Editor: Saule 
Mukhametrakhimova; Project Director: Kumar Bekbolotov.

IWPR Project Development and Support: Executive Director: Anthony Borden; 
Strategy & Assessment Director: Alan Davis; Chief Programme Officer: Mike Day.

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IWPR builds democracy at the frontlines of conflict and change through the 
power of professional journalism. IWPR programs provide intensive hands-on 
training, extensive reporting and publishing, and ambitious initiatives to 
build the capacity of local media. Supporting peace-building, development and 
the rule of law, IWPR gives responsible local media a voice.

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For further details on this project and other information services and media 
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ISSN: 1477-7924 Copyright © 2007 The Institute for War & Peace Reporting 

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