by opposition’s “exploitative” claims about crash in which ex-official Medet 
Sadyrkulov is feared dead.  By Anara Yusupova and Mirgul Akimova in Bishkek

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Interior minister angered by opposition’s “exploitative” claims about crash in 
which ex-official Medet Sadyrkulov is feared dead.

By Anara Yusupova and Mirgul Akimova in Bishkek

Allegations surrounding a car crash in which a leading politician is feared 
dead have done further damage to the already tense relationship between 
government and opposition in Kyrgyzstan.

There is no evidence to suggest that the crash on March 13 believed to have 
killed Medet Sadyrkulov, the head of the Kyrgyz president’s administration 
until January, was anything other than an accident.

However, in the heightened political mood in Kyrgyzstan, the case has added 
fuel to the fire. 

After hopes of a new deal in Kyrgyz politics were raised by a first round of 
negotiations with the authorities earlier this month, opposition parties are 
now boycotting the talks process because a number of leading members have been 
prosecuted in what they see as a political witch-hunt.

All the signs are that Sadyrkulov’s reported death has dealt a final blow to 
any chance of a resumption in the dialogue.

The accident happened early on the morning of March 13, when a vehicle careered 
off the road, hitting a stationary car and causing an explosion. The driver of 
the first car was able to escape and summon help, but three people in the 
parked vehicle died. 

It is feared one of them was Sadyrkulov, who is known to have borrowed the car 
concerned. However, the interior ministry has not confirmed this, because the 
bodies were badly burnt. 

“We cannot say precisedly who it was until DNA analysis has been carried out,” 
minister Moldomusa Kongantiev told reporters. 

A health ministry official later said the test would have to be done in 
neighbouring Kazakstan, and wold take ten to 15 days

Interior minister spokesman Bakyt Seitov said the driver of the other vehicle 
was being questioned as police tried to work out why the crash resulted in a 
devastating fire. 

Although the investigation is ongoing, a number of opposition leaders have 
seized on the accident, alleging that Sadyrkulov was murdered for political 
reasons. They say the former presidential chief of staff was in talks with the 
opposition and that he was planning to raise funds for anti-government protests.

Sadyrkulov’s resignation on January 8 was the most noteworthy in a series of 
moves that amounted to a comprehensive reshuffle by President Kurmanbek Bakiev. 
Analysts said he was on the losing side in a power-struggle taking place among 
three rival political groupings in the elite.

Appointed in 2007, Sadyrkulov was seen as a Bakiev ally who helped the 
administration to weather a series of anti-government demonstrations, and later 
to weaken the opposition by coopting several of its members.

Since his departure from office, Sadyrkulov is said by opposition members to 
have been manoeuvring to reposition himself on the political landscape.

“Medet Sadyrkulov had recently been meeting opposition leaders and was planning 
to play an organising role in [anti-government] rallies,” Green Party leader 
Erkin Bulekbaev told IWPR. “He had powerful connections in Kazakstan and Russia 
which could have helped him on a range of issues.” 

On March 14, the main opposition coalition, the United People’s Movement, 
announced the start of a wave of protest rallies later this month. They 
continue to press for Bakiev’s resignation at the top of their list of demands, 
but they have added a new one – a parliamentary commission to investigate 
Sadyrkulov’s death.

That appears to spell an end to the already halting talks process, which was 
launched after March 3 press conference at which President Bakiev offered his 
opponents an olive branch, saying he was prepared to work with “any party, even 
the radical ones”. 

Opposition leaders accepted the offer, albeit grudgingly, saying they wanted 
the government to stop the “political repression” they said was being directed 
against them. 

In the last couple of months, charges have been brought against a number of 
opposition leaders. Ata Meken leader Omurbek Tekebaev was detained in January 
and accused of a firearms offence, but the charges were subsequently dropped. 
Green Party leader Bulekbaev was accused of the criminal offence of besmirching 
President Bakiev’s good name, and Uluu Birimdik leader Emilbek Kaptagaev was 
prosecuted on corruption allegations.

On March 11, a day after the first round of talks took place, a court ordered 
Alikbek Jekshenkulov, a former foreign minister who now heads the Movement for 
Justice, to be detained for one month pending a police investigation. 
Jekshenkulov had been arrested two days earlier on suspicion of the murder of a 
Turkish national in December 2007. 

Opposition leaders said it would be hypocrisy to continue the talks, and called 
off a meeting scheduled for March 13. The president’s office responded with a 
statements insisting that the opposition had offered “no weighty reasons” for 
withdrawing from talks, and had not given the authorities time to respond to 
allegations that earlier criminal charges were politically motivated. 

The authorities, meanwhile, have urged the public – and especially the 
opposition – not to jump to hasty conclusions in the wake of Sadyrkulov’s death.

At a March 16 press conference, Interior Minister Kongantiev issued a plea not 
to use this human tragedy for political ends. 

“It is unpleasant that certain individuals are advancing various versions of 
events in order to score political points, even before an examination of the 
incident scene has been completed,” he said. “I regard it as heartless to 
exploit people’s misfortune.”

Some commentators say it is unwise to be speculating about Sadyrkulov’s death 
as long as the facts that are available do not point to murder. 

In the view of political analyst Marat Kazakpaev, “This is a tragic 

Anara Yusupova and Mirgul Akimova are pseudonyms for journalists in Bishkek.

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