Monday, May 24, 2010

Maksim-Zhanysh Affair Goes Public

By Erica Marat

A telephone conversation allegedly between former Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek Bakiyev's son and brother—Maksim and Zhanysh respectively—was recorded and posted on Youtube. Both are captured discussing their plan to seize power in Bishkek in late May or early June.

Neither Maksim nor Zhanysh seem to be apt enough to come with an elaborate course of action. Rather, they rely on some 500 paid protestors who would violently take over the government headquarters and major TV channels in Bishkek. "…it must be done towards the evening… The time when everyone goes away towards their houses", Maksim suggests. "It will be better even to do it in the morning, for instance at 6 a.m.”, his uncle offers. Maksim would offer $2,000-3,000 to protestors and double the pay after the goal is achieved. According to his calculations, all it would take is paying a crowd and finding the right person to place as a president in order to undermine the provisional government.

At least two more conversations were similarly recorded—between Almazbek Atambayev (responsible for economic policies at the provisional government) and Azimbek Beknazarov (Prosecutor General), and between Temir Sariyev (interim finance minister) and Azimbek Beknazarov. These conversations captured politicians' corrupt deals and exposed their ambition to grasp more power and benefit financially from the ongoing mayhem in the country. "Hey, my friend, you know that I can arrange a third revolution if need comes", says the voice of Beknazarov. "Why don't you scare someone else but me!?", responds Atambayev. Both quarrel about competing interests in allocating positions in the provisional government to their own people.

The Maksim-Bakiyev conversation is transcribed into English, suggesting that it was prepared for the broader public. According to Jamestown's sources, the phone conversations were taped by specialists in Russia.

It takes two communications professionals to capture mobile conversations. Some Kyrgyz military experts assume that the videos were prepared by people unfamiliar with politics in Kyrgyzstan or politics in general because a few slang words and expressions were not translated into English accurately and failed to reflect their intended meaning. The overall translation was grammatically sound but likely done by a non-native speaker. By contrast, the Kyrgyz language transcription was quite accurate.

According to experts in Kyrgyzstan, Maksim is likely to still be residing in Latvia and Zhanysh in Tajikistan or Kyrgyzstan. Mobile connection signals in Maksim and Zanysh’s conversation indicate that they are located in the territories of these states.

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