Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev defends his use of force to put down unrest in the country’s prisons, which cost four lives on Nov. 1. “Police did the right thing when they demanded that suspects and other inmates leave the prison for interrogations,” said Bakiev. “[The inmates] refused to come out. [Law-enforcement officers] approached them to meet and they [the convicts] started shooting. Should they have been presented bagels in response?” (BBC, Nov. 2)
The incident was sparked by the removal of a high-profile inmate, Aziz Batukayev, who is suspected of involvement in the killing of MP Tynychbek Akmatbayev during a tour of a prison last month. Deputy Prosecutor-General Abibulla Abdykaparov said Batukaev had occupied a whole floor of his prison. That included 16 rooms, where he kept three mares and 15 goats. Abdykaparov explained that the convict used to drink the domestic animals’ milk to heal his ulcer. His wife and daughter-in-law as well as a bodyguard—not convicts themselves—were with him when the troops burst into the prison building. (RFE/RL, Nov. 4) Batukaev is named by MosNews as a “Chechen ganglord.”
The crackdown may come at a convenient time for Washington, which habitually exploits human rights concerns in wresting concessions from Central Asian despots. The Pentagon is now rejecting demands by Kyrgyzstan to pay for the past use of Manas air base, a key military facility for US aircraft flying missions to Afghanistan.
President Bakiev wants the Pentagon to pay about $80 million to compensate for previous payments that it alleges were siphoned out of the country by fuel supply companies closely tied to the former regime of President Askar Akayev, ousted in a popular uprising earlier this year. (Financial Times, Oct. 29)
Bakiev had better be careful with the references to bagels, lest the Internet conspiracy theory set smell a Jew.