31 Jul 2018 13:49

Belarus refuses to extradite ex-Kyrgyz PM Usenov, fears he may be prosecuted for political views

MINSK. July 31 (Interfax) - The Belarusian Prosecutor General's Office has rejected Kyrgyzstan's request for the extradition of former Kyrgyz prime minister Daniyar Usenov, the spokesman of the Belarusian Prosecutor General's Office, Dmitry Brylev, told Interfax.

"On July 7, 2018, the Prosecutor General's Office refused to extradite Usenov to Kyrgyzstan, citing the provisions of Subpoint E of Point 1 of Article 89 of the convention [2002 Commonwealth of Independent States Convention on Legal Assistance and Legal Relations in Civil, Family, and Criminal Matters]. It gave us strong reasons to suspect that the request for this person's extradition is linked to his prosecution for political views," Brylev said.

Kyrgyzstan initially forwarded a request to Minsk on December 14, 2017, asking it to take measures to search for and detain the former prime minister in Belarus for a series of corruption-related crimes committed by Usenov while he was the mayor of Bishkek, he said.

"We referred to the provisions of Article 21 of the [above-mentioned] convention. This article stipulates that the provision of such assistance must not be denied if such assistance in the case does not violate the Belarusian side's legislation. But it did violate our legislation, and we refused," Brylev said.

In March 2018, Kyrgyzstan again requested Usenov's extradition in line with the conviction handed down in 2013 by Bishkek's Pervomaisky District Court, which sentenced the former premier in absentia to 15 years in prison, he said.

The July 7 reply relates to the March extradition request, Brylev said, adding the Belarusian Prosecutor General's Office fears that this case is politically motivated.

"I will presume that our Kyrgyz colleagues have not yet received this answer," he said.

Last week, the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry sent a note of protest to Minsk over Usenov's presence in Belarus.