26 Mar 2019 17:56

Criminal prosecution of ex-officials not to do with politics, Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry tells U.S. ambassador

BISHKEK. March 26 (Interfax) - The United States Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, Donald Lu, has been warned of the unacceptability of the political interpretation of the arrests of former Kyrgyz high-ranking officials in the Department of State report on human rights, the Foreign Ministry's press service told Interfax on Tuesday.

"On March 26 the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry hosted a meeting with U.S. Ambassador Lu to discuss the recent U.S. State Department report on human rights worldwide," the spokesperson said.

It was stressed that while the report for 2018 noted significant improvements in Kyrgyzstan compared to previous years, attention was also drawn to "many points in the report [being] information from NGOs and various civic organizations," the spokesperson said.

The ministry "particularly stressed the unacceptability of determining the arrests of certain former high-ranking officials as political, since they are facing concrete charges of corruption and the trial is not yet over.

"This fact was perceived by society as an attempt to influence the trial, i.e. interference in [Kyrgyzstan's] domestic affairs."

Lu stated during the meeting that State Department reports rely on information from various NGOs, which does not always reflect the real state of affairs in the country, the spokesman said.

"The Kyrgyz side expressed a strong request to double-check the information before publishing, given the objective achievements and evidence provided by Kyrgyz ministries and agencies officially."

The press service did not name the officials. At the same time, in its report on human rights worldwide issued last week, the State Department referred to Kyrgyz ex-prime ministers Zhantoro Satybaldiyev and Sapar Isakov, who were arrested last year, as political detainees.

Both are accused of corruption schemes in a Chinese-funded $386-million project to modernize a thermal power plant in Bishkek. Kyrgyz law enforcement agencies have categorically denied any political motive behind the cases against the ex-officials (one of whom, Isakov, was a member of the close entourage of ex-president Almazbek Atambyev), claiming having irrefutable evidence of their culpability.