In the wake of the assumed death of Kyrgyz ex-presidential chief-of-staff, Medet Sadyrkulov, some interesting fissures are coming to light in what has generally been believed to be a monolithic pro-government bloc in parliament.

Three political groupings are represented in the Jogorku Kenesh: the pro-presidential Ak Zhol party with an overwhelming 71 deputies, the soft Communist Party opposition with 8 deputies, and the more combative Social Democrats with 11 seats.

One of the saddest outcomes of the tainted parliamentary elections of December 2007 was that this legislative chamber, easily the most lively in Central Asia, was neutered and turned effectively into a rubber stamp body for President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s administration. Over the past few months, however, there have been increasingly rumbling about potential schisms within the dominant Ak Zhol group _ a possibility that has become ever more likely with Sadyrkulov’s death.

A substantial section of Ak Zhol deputies have an obvious loyalty toward Sadyrkulov, being former members of the Moya Strana (My Country) party that he once headed and saw merged into the larger grouping.

Galina Kulikova

Galina Kulikova

On Tuesday, former Moya Strana coordinator Galina Kulikova demanded Ak Zhol convene in an emergency meeting and called on Bakiyev to attend. The proposed topic of the meeting is to be what she described as shortcomings in the investigation into the crash in which it is believed Sadyrkulov was killed.

Meanwhile, Ak Zhol deputy Erik Arsaliyev, who lent the Lexus to Sadyrkulov, questioned the likelihood of the accident resulting in a fatality. He noted that the fuel tank in the Lexus is on the opposite side from where the collision took place, and so it was unlikely for the vehicle to catch fire the way it did.

(Incidentally, see this TV report for an interesting computer-generated reconstruction of the collision, which now appears to have taken place on a desolate road by a lake, although pictures from the scene suggested otherwise).

According to this article published in Reporter-Bishkek last year _ one of whose reporters recently fell victim to an unexplained beating _ Arsaliyev lies within the sphere of influence of an Ak Zhol faction headed by Sadyrkulov and Elmira Ibraimova, who also resigned as deputy prime minister in January. Ibraimova has been trenchant in her accusations against the government, insisting that Sadyrkulov’s was indeed murder. It was also she that has been telling all and sundry that Sadyrkulov warned her in previous weeks that he has been under surveillance and had received death threats. The important point here is that while some of Ibraimova’s words may verge on the hysterical, not to speak of self-regarding, she is clearly not a frivolous person without influence. Also, unlike Sadyrkulov, Ibraimova has manifestly pitched her tent broadly within the anti-government camp.

Elmira Ibraimova

Elmira Ibraimova

Zainidin Kurmanov, also formerly of Moya Strana, is yet another voice in the list of indignant deputies demanding a more probing inquiry into Sadyrkulov’s death.

What seems quite probable is that most those deputies (barring Social Democrats) coming out with the kind of stern words on this shady affair that we have seen so far will prove to be members of this broad faction encompassing Moya Strana and the Sadyrkulov-Ibraimova alliance, which may include anything up to 30-40 people, if the Reporter-Bishkek article is anything to go by.

Conversely, Sadyrkulov’s convenient death may have been just what the doctor ordered, so to speak. Any large-scale defections or rumblings may have been suitable averted by this macabre occurrence.

Ak Zhol may be on the brink of an almighty schism, in which case all bets are off. If the break-up of this political monolith is averted, however, it is difficult to see what difference the planned opposition marches will have.

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