The first president of Kyrgyzstan, Askar Akayev, returned from Bishkek to Moscow on the morning of January 20. At home, all charges were finally dropped from him. The exile, which had lasted 16 years, was over. Askar Akayevich told MK how he managed to achieve this and what plans he now has for the future.
– In 2021, I visited my homeland twice. I flew there for one week in the summer and one week in December. There I worked very closely with law enforcement agencies, every day from morning to evening. I can say that now there are no complaints against me at home, all cases are closed. Now I, like any other citizen of Kyrgyzstan, can come there at any time.
Of course, the current president, Sadyr Japarov, played the main role in this. He personally called me and said that over 16 years in Kyrgyzstan, many different cases have accumulated in relation to me, many of which are far-fetched, but to close them, my explanations and answers are needed. I gratefully accepted the invitation to fly to Bishkek.
In addition, I am grateful to the head of the State Committee for National Security, General Kamchybek Tashiev. He and all his subordinates treated me very favorably. They were very empathetic, although they acted strictly according to the law.
– And when you flew there in the summer, did you have any fears that you could be deceived or undertaken some kind of provocation?
– There was no doubt, because the issue of my trip was agreed at the level of the presidents of Russia and Kyrgyzstan, Vladimir Putin and Sadyr Japarov. I am immensely grateful to Vladimir Vladimirovich for being so hospitable to me in Russia. For 16 years I have been working here, the most comfortable conditions have been created for my whole family.
– Today the loudest case in Kyrgyzstan is the Kumtor gold mine case, and you testified on it …
– Yes, of course, in particular, I walked through Kumtor both as a witness and as an accused … Most of the questions I was asked in Bishkek related to this particular case. After all, I know most about this enterprise, it was I who found the investor in the early 1990s. They worked well at first. In the 1990s, in the conditions of highlands and permafrost, in record time, in three years, the largest gold mining enterprise in Central Asia was built. The first gold was awarded in 1997. However, in the early 2000s, they began to abuse, caused great damage to the environment, corrupted some of our officials …
I can’t say more so as not to harm the case. But I removed all the questions about myself and tried to provide the investigators with all the necessary information that would help them in international courts.
– What do you think, how high are the chances for Kyrgyzstan to win in court?
– The chances are high, because the damage to the environment was enormous. In general terms, I will say: there are two glaciers – the Davidov glacier and the Lysy glacier. They feed the Syrdarya and Naryn – the largest rivers in Central Asia. Waste rock was dumped on these glaciers, which accelerated their melting, increased pollution … At the same time, we are talking about sources of fresh water, which in the near future will become more expensive than gold. I hope Kyrgyzstan will win in court and Kumtor will be used for the benefit of the people.
– Will they take testimony from other heads of state?
– Now two former prime ministers are under investigation on the Kumtor issue. The authorities intend to bring this matter to an end.
– Why did they not want to drop charges against you earlier?
– Today the international community recognizes that in 2005 a coup d’etat took place in Kyrgyzstan. Those events were headed by Bakiev, Atambaev and Otumbayeva. They took turns as presidents and, naturally, all the time they tried to dig up some case on me, although the Prosecutor General’s Office admitted that many of the accusations were far-fetched. After Atambayev, his protege Jeenbekov came to power, who was also not interested in objective consideration of my question.
Only Japarov treated me fairly. He honestly told me that he could not cancel criminal cases, and my participation was needed to close them. I agreed with that.
– How long did it take between Japarov’s call and your first trip?
– Japarov called, and two days later I was already in Bishkek. I spent this time to inform the leadership of Russia about my trip. After all, for 16 years I have enjoyed the hospitality of this country. At the same time, I learned about the guarantees of my safety.
As a result, I came to Kyrgyzstan for a week, then parliamentary elections were held in the country, and the leadership of the republic had no time for me. As soon as the elections were over, they called me again and said that it would be nice to come to finish what I started. Everything went naturally …
– How unexpected was Japarov’s call for you?
– Honestly, the call was very unexpected. I did not even think that my business could be taken up so quickly, only six months after his election as president.
– Do you remember your first thought when you heard Japarov’s proposal?
– I immediately realized that I could return home. During the reign of previous presidents, the fifth or tenth prosecutors from other law enforcement agencies of Kyrgyzstan approached me. Moreover, they threatened me with a wanted list, lengthy imprisonment, and so on. I ignored all their statements and told them not to threaten me, because great Russia protects me. But then the president himself called me, and he does not throw words to the wind.
– Are you going to move to Kyrgyzstan or while you stay in Russia?
– While in Russia, because here I have an interesting job. I work at the Faculty of Mechanics and Mathematics at Moscow State University, where I am among the outstanding scientists. It is very important for scientific work to be among the leaders. As long as my creative powers remain, I want to continue my work at Moscow State University.
Moreover, the other day I was awarded the highest scientific award, which is awarded to the best scientists – the Lomonosov Prize of the first degree. One Prize in the First Degree and two Prizes in the Second Degree are awarded annually.
I am very grateful to the team in which I have been working for the past 16 years. In difficult years, they supported me and gave me strength to do science. In particular, I am grateful to our rector Viktor Sadovnichy, an outstanding mathematician of our day. I am happy to work under his leadership and in his wonderful scientific school.
– After all, you became the first representative of Central Asia to be awarded the Lomonosov Prize, how do you like in this status?
– This is the highest honor and award for me. In my second scientific life, I managed to rise to incredible heights. I am happy and want to continue my work. And I will come to my homeland from time to time.
– When you returned to Kyrgyzstan after a long absence, did you have the opportunity to visit your relatives, come to the graves?
– Of course, we saw each other every evening. I met with relatives, friends, colleagues, associates, including 94-year-old surgeon Mambet Mamakeev. He’s still doing surgery. I bowed to the graves of my parents and brothers …
– Has Kyrgyzstan changed a lot during your absence?
– Very much. In most cases, the changes have been for the better. Life is raging and moving forward.
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