Kyrgyz lawmaker and businessman Bayaman Erkinbaev was shot dead last night [Wednesday] in Bishkek. Erkinbaev, who was for a brief time among the country's presidential contenders earlier this year, had alleged connections to criminal groups in the southern Osh area. He is the second parliament deputy to be killed since June. His murder comes after a warning by Kyrgyzstan's ombudsman that contract murders were on the rise in the country. The Kyrgyz parliament today held an emergency session on the murder, with both President Kurmanbek Bakiev and Prime Minister Feliks Kulov in attendance.
Controversy seemed to follow the lawmaker since a previous murder attempt against him last April. At the time, Erkinbaev said the attack was linked to his presidential bid.
"With full responsibility I declare that this [assassination attempt] is a political order which I believe is linked to my decision to run for president," Erkinbaev said.
But there may have been other reasons -- Erkinbaev's alleged criminal ties among them.
In June, violence broke out in his native Osh region when guards shot guns into the air to disperse a crowd of angry protesters gathered outside an Osh hotel believed to be owned by Erkinbaev. The protesters were primarily merchants from the Kara-suu bazaar, one of the biggest such markets in Central Asia.
Erkinbaev allegedly held large financial interests in the Kara-suu bazaar. Several recent articles in the Kyrgyz press and on the Internet accused Erkinbaev of being involved in a number of illegal business ventures, including some linked to the market.
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
Support the Belarusian cartoonists
Third Way, the Belarusian organisation whose members are being prosecuted for producing satirical cartoons about Lukashenka,
have set up a web page where you can make a donation via PayPal. The group urgently
need money for their legal defence and operating expenses. Please give what you can today! Read more
We are continuing to focus our efforts on the Belarusian prisoner of conscience Mikhail Marinich.
We are campaigning for him to receive proper medical treatment, to be permitted to see his family,
and ultimately to be released from prison pending a review of his case. You can help by distributing
our factsheets and letters.
Members of these groups have joined our blog to share their views and experiences.