Crying coup, once again, last week Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee for National Security (SCNS or UKMK) searched the homes of 10 members of the opposition Butun Kyrgyzstan party and reportedly temporarily detained some of them. It’s not clear whether any charges will be filed.
(For subscribers to The Diplomat Magazine, note that I covered three previous allegedly forestalled coups in Sadyr Japarov’s Kyrgyzstan in the July 2023 issue.)
On July 6 local media reported on severals raids on the homes of members of the Butun Kyrgyzstan party, led by Adakhan Madumarov. In video provided by the state security services, replete with dramatic music, men in fatigues with guns are seen dashing into village homes and detaining people. Then still photos of gathered materials cross the screen, showing what look like receipts, reports, and campaign materials with the party’s logo on them.
According to the SCNS, the party members were engaged in “underground preparations for holding mass protests and large-scale riots on the territory of the country, followed by a violent seizure of power.”
The evidence presented ranges from ordinary campaign materials (like party vests) to benign common goods (like credit cards). The SCNS also alleges that it found a variety of inflammatory statements, but it’s not clear where they appeared (24.kg includes a list here).
Madumarov, the leader of the Butun Kyrgyzstan party, said the harassment of his party members is “taking place against the backdrop of unsuccessful border negotiations with Tajikistan.” He characterized the raids as an attempt to divert attention and ridiculed the produced video in comments to 24.kg: “The papers that are shown in the pictures are the party charter, program and badges registered by the [Central Election Commission]. Such thoughts [about the overthrow of power] can only come to a sick head.”
In essence, where Madumarov (and I’d argue any reasonably democratic mind) would see the activities of an opposition party, the Kyrgyz government sees the seeds of a nefarious coup plot.
Madumarov has his own troubles. In late June, the Kyrgyz parliament agreed before breaking for the summer in a vote of 61 to 17 to allow criminal proceedings against Madumarov, but in regard to what the state now alleges was an overreach on his part in signing a border protocol with Tajikistan back in 2009 and not the Kempir-Abad case, as was assumed the gambit at the time.
As I reported early last month, the Kyrgyz Prosecutor General sought parliament’s approval to revoke Madumarov’s parliamentary immunity in order to allow the state to pursue a criminal case against him. In a press conference at the time, as Kloop reported, Madumarov made it clear that he believed he would soon become one of the Kempir-Abad defendants.
Last year, in March 2022, the parliament rejected a similar request to strip Madumarov of his parliamentary immunity in regard to the 2009 case. Legislators have now apparently changed their minds.
In an interview with Kaktus.media, MP Gulya Kozhokulova said that the commission that was organized to consider the request decided to partially grant it — specifically where it addressed charges related to the 2009 border protocol and not in relation to the Kempir-Abad case. The difference is between an allegation of abuse of power and of preparing for a coup.
That decision was made on June 22. Two weeks later, on July 6, Madumarov’s supporters’ homes were raided in search of evidence of a coup.
As I noted in earlier reports about Madumarov:
Madumarov ran against Japarov in the January 2021 snap presidential election and came in second, with just under 7 percent of the vote (Japarov won with 79 percent). In various polls over the years, and likely a product of his long political career, Madumarov appears among the lists of politicians people trust.
Madumarov told RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service, Azattyk, that his is a case of clear political prosecution.
As I noted in my recent magazine article, it seems as if the Kyrgyz government is conflating the activities of opposition parties with the plotting of coups. At the same time, the steady drumbeat of a government under siege is handy rhetorical ammo for tightening restrictions on NGOs, media, and civil society more broadly. It’s perhaps understandable (though not very democratic) that the Japarov government would be nervous about losing its position amid a potential protest movement, because that’s precisely how it ascended to power and how most Kyrgyz governments are shown the door.