Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 82

Feliks Kulov, one of Kyrgyzstan’s most powerful political figures, resigned on April 26 from his latest post–that of mayor of the capital Bishkek. That post is appointive, not elective; Kulov accordingly handed in his resignation to President Askar Akaev who had appointed him. But Kulov’s influence had stemmed from his tenure as national security minister until last year and the network of loyalists he had created in that capacity.

Kulov complained in an interview yesterday that the president and his staff were purging the National Security Ministry of officers suspected of being loyal to him (Vecherny Bishkek, April 27). Twenty such officers have been placed on unlimited leave of absence; six others have been arrested and face criminal proceedings for unlawful acquisition and use of eavesdropping equipment. According to Kulov, the purchase of the equipment in Moscow was financed by “private sponsors” during his ministerial tenure and authorized by Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service.

Presidential officials, for their part, charge that pro-Kulov security officers were using the equipment to eavesdrop on Akaev and his staff (Vecherny Bishkek, Russian agencies, April 27). The situation probably helps explain the internal political considerations which Akaev cited to justify his absence from NATO’s anniversary summit in Washington. Kulov’s transfer from the ministerial to the mayoral post last year was the first step toward depriving him of official power. In neighboring Tajikistan, the powerful deputy prime minister responsible for security affairs, Mahmadsaid Ubaidulloev, had his wings clipped in similar fashion in 1997 when he was transferred to the post of mayor of the capital Dushanbe. Kulov’s downward descent has been greater, however.

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