By Arslan Sabyrbekov (03/04/2015 issue of the CACI Analyst)
On February 11, Kyrgyzstan's former prosecutor-general Aida Salyanova gave her first press conference since her recent resignation, describing it as "forced" rather than "voluntary," as was previously claimed by representatives of the president's closest circle. In her words, the main reason for her resignation was the obvious lack of support from the side of the president, who "could not or did not wish to guarantee security and sustainability for her office's work in combating corruption."
Rumors about Salyanova leaving her office started to circulate some time before she submitted her official letter of resignation on January 19. At his end of the year press conference last December, President Almazbek Atambayev denied information about the prosecutor-general's possible resignation stating that, "her work is very complex and she is tired. She has a family and children and needed some time to rest." Back then, the president assured the public that Aida Salyanova will return to work after her short vacation and wished the country to have such a "President as Salyanova." However, the prosecutor-general's long vacation generated further rumors, with local political observers suggesting that the head of the Presidential Administration Daniyar Narymbaev may replace her, and that she might be appointed as Kyrgyzstan's next envoy to Washington, DC.
Salyanova was appointed Kyrgyzstan's prosecutor-general in April 2011, after serving as the President's representative in Parliament and briefly as Minister of Justice. Under her leadership, the prosecutor-general's office has conducted an unprecedented fight against corruption with a number of high profile cases filed against the country's top high ranking officials, including the former speaker of Parliament, former Mayor of Bishkek, former Minister for Social Development, and a number of prominent parliamentarians. She is perceived by part of the public as Kyrgyzstan's "Iron Lady" and as a symbol of the fight against corruption, while others believe that she became a victim of the system and simply turned into an instrument of selective justice.
The former prosecutor-general's open criticism against the country's president caused an immediate reaction from his office. "Aida Salyanova was given full political support and freedom of action for the entire period of her tenure as Kyrgyzstan's prosecutor-general," stated presidential adviser Farid Niyazov. The high-ranking White House official also added that "for a long time, information about the intervention of people from Salyanova's inner circle into the affairs of her office existed only in the form of anonymous letters and rumors, and the attitude of the president was therefore appropriate. However, when these rumors began to appear as facts, she was proposed to draw conclusions, lost the president's trust and is now making false statements for her own political benefit." Shortly before Salyanova's resignation, local media sources have spread information that her spouse and an aide at the Justice Ministry, Bakyt Abdykaparov, received US$ 50,000 for his alleged assistance in terminating the criminal case against officials of the municipal enterprise Tazalyk. Salyanova described these assertions as a clear information attack against her.
The most important announcement during the former prosecutor-general's press conference was her intention and readiness to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections in October 2015. Contrary to local political analysts' views that she will join one of the large political parties, Salyanova has been unanimously affirmed as Chairwoman of the relatively new political party called Kuchtuu Kyrgyzstan (Strong Kyrgyzstan). According to Bishkek-based political observer Mars Sariev, her political party has very good chances of entering the next Parliament and emphasize combating corruption in its election program. Local analysts also do not exclude the possibility that prior to elections, Salyanova's party might merge with larger political parties, socialist Ata Meken party being at the top of the list.
In the meantime, Kyrgyzstan's Parliament has supported the nomination of a new prosecutor-general, Indira Joldubaeva, who has previously served as head of the justice sector reform department in the presidential apparatus. The newly appointed Joldubaeva, 35, is the youngest serving prosecutor-general in Kyrgyzstan's history and has prior to her nomination attained widespread criticism for not having worked a single day in the prosecution system.
The author writes in his personal capacity. The views expressed are his own and do not represent the views of the organization for which he works.
The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.