With just two weeks left to go until Kyrgyzstan’s presidential elections, the authorities have embarked on another highly politicized criminal case, accusing a well-known lawmaker of plotting to foment riots and topple the government. The General Prosecutor’s Office announced in a statement on September 30 that it is filing criminal proceedings against Kanatbek Isayev, who has been formally detained, on charges that he planned to provoke violent unrest in the event of a political ally failing to win the October 15 election. Isayev is identified in the statement as a supporter of one of the election frontrunners, Omurbek Babanov. Prosecutors claim that Isayev entered into an agreement with “representatives of organized criminal groups” to “pursue active measures aimed at the organization of mass unrest.”
Around the same time as the prosecutors released their statement, a series of recordings were dumped on YouTube appearing to support the allegations. The source of the video and audio tapes is not made clear, although the apparent access to phone taps strongly suggests it may be handiwork of elements in or close to the security services. In Kyrgyzstan, similarly incriminating, anonymously released and ultimately unverified recordings regularly surface online in advance of politically tinged arrests.
One piece of video footage purports to show Isayev agreeing on a 2 million som ($29,000) payment to criminal elements in exchange for committing acts of violence. It cannot be indisputably confirmed from the footage that Isayev is actually the person featured, but the same account is echoed in a statement issued by the State Committee for National Security, or GKNB, the local successor agency to the KGB.