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2010 April 23 Friday
US Base In Kyrgyzstan And Family Businesses

The Nation has an interesting article about corruption at the highest levels in Kyrgyzstan and how the US military uses newly created companies to provide fuel to US bases in the stans. Turns out subcontractors to these companies are owned by the sons of the rulers.

It was all cozy until violence hit the streets of Bishkek in 2005, foreshadowing what was to come five years later. The "Tulip Revolution" forced Akayev to flee and abdicate, and then the secrets of the Akayev regime began to tumble out, in scandal after scandal. The new government, headed by President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, even asked the US government for help investigating the former regime. The FBI's Eurasian Unit churned out an extraordinary report that laid bare a "vast amount of potential criminal activities associated with the Akaev Organization." The president and his family were accused of "siphoning off at least $1 billion from the Kyrgyz state budget." It was as if the Kyrgyz government had been some kind of criminal enterprise within which the United States ran a military base.

The article is focused on how two secretive corporations (that sound like CIA front companies to me) which apparently were created to supply petroleum products to US bases in Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan. One of those companies apparently also was the conduit thru which the US government bribed the last two ruling families in Kyrgyzstan to allow the US to use the bases. Okay everyone, feign outrage.

The FBI helped Bakiyev investigate the previous regime of the Akayev family. The results of this investigation helped Bakiyev construct a similar web of corruption. Imagine that. Criminal investigation are more like stealing trade secrets from competitors.

After the revolt, people thought things might be different. The new government seemed to bring a fresh sense of integrity for a short while, before it began to stack its own skeletons in the closet. Despite his claims to be a reformer, Bakiyev appeared to go about replicating the patterns of his predecessor in a deliberate manner. "He really didn't think twice. They inherited this," says one consultant who dealt with Bakiyev shortly after the revolution. "We really in great detail uncovered the scheme. And I think the moment they figured out how it worked, they went and did it."

I read an account of the latest revolution where the writer claimed Russian government agents played a role in overthrowing the latest regime in order to push out the US. But this report in The Nation says at the end that the new Kyrgyz government has asked the US government for help investigating the crimes of the previous government. The new rulers need another guide book.

The new Kyrgyz government has already agreed to let the US base stay. But will some Congressional committee mess up the new deal with an awkward investigation?

(April 23) -- Days after the ouster of the country's president, the interim government of Kyrgyzstan has reassured Washington that the U.S. will maintain access to a key airbase in the former Soviet republic. But a congressional panel is probing allegations of shady contracting at the base, an important hub for supporting troops in Afghanistan.

A Kyrgyz writer describes how bad things decayed under the Bakiev regime. He describes how lots of opponents of the regime started visiting Moscow. The Russians had multiple reasons for wanting an overthrow, the US military base just one of them.

As a result of mismanagement in the energy sector, in 2006 (Bakiev's second year in power) people in Kyrgyzstan began experiencing regular blackouts, which made their lives even more miserable. Kyrgyzstan has plenty of water and hydroelectric potential, so the people could not believe that they were suddenly having electricity shortages.

Nepotism and other corruption within Bakiev's government were additional irritants. Bakiev appointed his second son, Maksim, as chief of the newly created Agency for Investment and Economic Development. This agency accumulated most of the money coming into the Kyrgyz economy -- including foreign investment and social and pension payments. Bakiev's eldest son, Marat, and several brothers were appointed to high government posts.

Maksim Bakiev's agency misused a Russian loan provided to the Kyrgyz government to bridge the state budget deficit, according to a representative of the Russian Embassy in Bishkek. And Maksim's financial adviser, Yevgeny Gurevich, was accused by an Italian judge in March of embezzling some $2.7 billion from telecom companies.

Did the US government know about the latest putsch in advance? If so, did the CIA help or oppose the uprising? Read the full story at the last link. The protestors did not appear to start out aiming to overthrow the government. It sounds like they suddenly got more ambitious when the bullets started flying.

By Randall Parker    2010 April 23 10:13 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
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