Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 124

The police have arrested three deputies of Kyrgyzstan’s Assembly of People’s Representatives, and are conducting criminal investigations against another seven deputies on multiple charges of corruption drawn up by the General Prosecutor’s Office. The arrests and the investigations–including search warrants against at least one absconding deputy–disregard those deputies’ parliamentary immunity. President Askar Akaev stands behind these anticorruption measures.

One of the deputies under arrest, Marat Kalmurzaev, is accused of having defrauded the state and a number of farm cooperatives on a massive scale. In another–and particularly serious–case, the arrested deputy, Zhalgap Kazakbaev, is accused of having personally profited from illicit uranium and gold sales in his capacity as director-general of the Kara-Balta uranium and gold mining and processing enterprise. Hundreds of Kara-Balta employees picketed government buildings in Bishkek during the week to protest against the arrest of their director.

In a third case involving a top executive, the director-general of the Naryn Power Plant Construction Trust, Vladimir Shevelev–who is also a parliamentary deputy–has fled the country after being charged with large-scale embezzlement. Shevelev is believed to have returned to his native Russia. His deputy Boris Vorobyov has, however, been detained in Bishkek on similar charges.

A majority in the Assembly of People’s Representatives, including its chairman Abdygani Erkinbaev and communist leader Absamat Masaliev, seem prepared to make a stand in defense of parliamentary immunity. Theirs is a weak case, however. A national referendum in October 1998 supported Akaev’s initiative to limit parliamentary immunity so as to make possible the prosecution of deputies involved in or suspected of corruption (Vecherny Bishkek, Habar, June 22-25).