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Valentin Bogatyrev: "Three oppositions of Almazbek Atambayev"
"So far, the President has been successful in political maneuvering to maintain a low level of protest consolidation. But it is becoming more and more difficult to do so... It is a logic of politics,” said Valentin Bogatyrev, head of the analytical consortium "Perspective" in an article written for the IPP.
Those who believe that the country is going in a wrong way, that the state is falling apart, that it is necessary to change the Constitution, renounce the parliamentary republic and restore the old order, need not worry about it any longer. I have three proofs that we are back in a presidential republic, and we finally have a president again.
The first of them is the adoption of the national strategy for sustainable development and the creation of the appropriate council.
In Kyrgyzstan, the President cannot do without his own development strategy. Askar Akayev was, in this sense, an "outstanding" president, because he developed several strategies. Even Kurmanbek Bakiyev, famous for his dislike of punditry, also developed his own country's development strategy, calling it the "New Deal."
There was not a strategy during Roza Otunbayeva’s rule, but she can be forgiven: she was only a provisional, and, as many believe, an “unreal” President. Only at the end of her short term, she realized that even working 24 hours in a holes-patching mode, problems were not solved. They were even doubled, but it was too late.
Negotiating and adopting his own development strategy, Atambayev has finally become a full-fledged president of Kyrgyzstan.
It should be emphasized, in spite of many detractors of his roadmap, that the presidential strategy is a genre that does not require a reality. This is a simulacrum, which is posted for the needs of clever critics, so that they had something to do while the President is doing his business. Only the President knows what this business is. Only God knows what will be done in reality.
Almazbek Atambayev is not original here. His predecessors did exactly the same thing. Therefore, those who believe in historical analogies can easily tell what the outcome of the next presidential strategy will be. As the great Hegel said, history teaches us only the fact that it does not teach anybody anything.
However, I would not predict the same fate of the current President as his predecessors. First of all, this is just because the National Sustainable Development Strategy of the Kyrgyz Republic has nothing to do with the real action strategy of Atambayev.
And here it is: the real course of action by the President, at least so far, has a significant difference with the thoughts of his predecessors. This difference is reduced to a simple fact: despite all the hatred for Almazbek Atambayev, his enemies cannot accuse him of using his public office for personal gain.
It is this fact that allowed him step by step to still accumulate the power in his hands and do the things that his predecessors could not afford, even during the periods of their greatest influence. I mean not only arresting deputies, which was unthinkable before, but the recently legalized control over the Parliament with preserving visibility of a parliamentary system and the tough foreign policy positioning, and even impulsive emotion statements in assessments, inconceivable in such a position. Our president today is above suspicion.
The integrity of the President, though detrimental to his former driver, on whose figure all the evils and all the hatred of Atambayev’s enemies are concentrated now. But apparently the driver has such a fate.
The second proof of the President's return to our old values is the emergence of political prisoners. In this case we are not talking about Tashbaev or Tuleyev. They will not answer for the policy. It is difficult, too, to agree with those who think that Kamchybek Tashiyev is a political prisoner. The whole country heard his calls for the seizure of power. But those soldiers who are in the dock without any evidence of their personal involvement in the murder of at least someone are an example of obvious political persecution.
They are responsible for the fact that they served the previous regime, not the government, but the political regime of Bakiyev. And they are responsible for the fact that the current government is not able to prosecute the real criminals, those who gave the orders to kill. We are talking about political responsibility transformed into the criminal format for others. Therefore, the men of "Alpha," in any case, those against whom there is no evidence of the use of weapons for killing or wounding people - they are political prisoners.
It looks like that in a couple of months, we, the ranks of political prisoners, will be enlarged, also due to those who are currently preparing a new "revolution." I have mixed feelings when I see the unfolding campaign against Beknazarov. Nobody likes him, but nobody likes the political bias of his persecution either. Why did nobody go to the press conference concerning the appropriation of money by Beknazarov two years ago? Where were these guys from this public association, and who pushed them into the political scene today?
The meeting of the "new opposition" held last Saturday set out a practical plan for its actions. Headquarters in the capital is established, and other headquarters will be in the regions, too. It remains only to recall that exactly three years ago, everything started in exactly the same way, which led to the events of April 7. Yes, and almost the same people are participating in it.
A lot of people around Atambayev are trying to persuade him not to be too soft with the parliamentary troika, with Beknazarov and with the remains of “Ata Jurt." The President is literally pushed for tough actions. But there is no reason to doubt that the consequences of such actions, as has happened several times, will be disastrous. And the matter is not in Beknazarov or Tashiev and the willingness of people to support them.
It is not about them and not about the threat of another coup, which is virtually impossible. The point is the government itself, which is running the mechanism of prosecution of opponents, already has one foot on the road to dictatorship.
Emotionally, one can understand Atambayev. One can understand the pathos of his fellow councilors in relation to attempts to overthrow the goals of the April Revolution, in relation to the backlash that has occurred as a result of more or less democratic elections during post-April years. It is no accident that on the eve of a political spring those who entered into the provisional government have gathered again.
But succumbing to emotions today and to engage in the game, which the government imposes, is pernicious not only for the current power (after all, it is far from ideal), but also it is detrimental to the country, its maintenance and development.
Today, the President has a fundamentally different political strategy. The strategy is not based on rejection and persecution of those who have a different opinion, not to exacerbate the political opposition. It should be subtler; it should be based on political technologies inherent in democratic regimes, the technologies that provide a national dialogue. It's hard. It is much more difficult than giving instructions to the obedient Prosecutor’s office. But this is the only way to save his reputation and loyalty to the ideals, for which the revolution was made.
And finally, the third, the most striking proof of the return to a presidential system is the formation of an all-out opposition. It is inevitable for our country when the President remains alone, and the space around him is filled with the opposition forces.
Here are the three oppositions of Almazbek Atambayev.
First of all, there is an ideological opposition, i.e., people who have different views on the development of the country. This is a rather large and heterogeneous army. Some people do not like the foreign policy orientation of Atambayev, some of them dislike his political polyvalence, someone - the principles of personnel decisions, and some of them dislike the institution of the President as such. In any case, these people believe that Atambayev does everything wrong and that the country is once again unlucky to have a wrong president.
Here lies an old dilemma: you have a democratic society, in which there is not and should not be any father of the nation and the Soviet-Asian paternalism. Part of society is unhappy that the President, as it should be in a parliamentary republic, is not interfering in the government. The other, on the contrary, are dissatisfied with the fact that he interferes too much in the running of the country. As the split in the public discourse is very clear on this issue, and the polarity of opinions is obvious, nobody likes the President.
Well, it is clear that the appearance of this kind of opposition cannot be avoided, if the President is not recognized as the national leader or conscience of the nation. Almazbek Atambayev is trying to play this role but is hardly convincing enough.
The second group of opponents includes people dissatisfied with their status or access to resources, which gives power, and who are resentful, neglected, or, vice versa, ambitiously undervalued. We can talk about two categories in this group: leaving politicians and a new generation, those who had and lost, and those who want to have, but do not have it. Needless to say, this is also a considerable number of people for whom the chance to change their lives for the better is connected only with the departure of Atambayev.
Finally, the third group is the immediate environment of Atambayev. They are the most dangerous, because they shape the President, his position, and his attitude to the people and events. In this case, the problem lies in the fact that their interests do not coincide or are even directly opposed to those of the President in view of the fact that the object of his activities as president of the country is different from the object of the bureaucracy’s interests. Therefore, the head of state will always move to solutions that benefit not the country, but the machine. Of course, part of that decision or something in such decisions will be beneficial for the country, but only to the extent and in the amounts, which strengthens the position of the bureaucracy. This, unfortunately, has long been known as a law of functioning of such a system, which is however ardently otherwise stated by the officials. Officially, the presidential entourage is by definition the most opposition to his mission, except, of course, when the team of like-minded partners has a common goal. Unfortunately, we do not see it today
The group that made the revolution and was involved in the post-revolutionary process could be such a team. But Otunbayeva failed to do it, and Atambayev does not want to do it. His efforts to create expert institutions that could provide control are not visible either.
If somebody wants to find out the specific names of the opposition, we will not be able to provide a list for each category of the opposition, not because it is not known or cannot be published. The problem is that this division is conditional on motivation. In reality, people are either at the same time in the three categories, or in two of them, which further contributes to the totality of the opposition body. Therefore we are not surprised when people who seemingly supported the President suddenly find themselves on the other side. This is not a betrayal. They were there already.
I saw the deserted corridors of the White House after the Aksy events. The President sat alone, and only Zhanuzakov didn’t leave. I saw people resigning on the morning of the 25th of March, 2005. And it was under Akayev, whose environment he selected himself. What can be said about Atambayev then? Probably, only Ilmiyanov will remain, if something happens.
So far, the President has been successful in political maneuvering to maintain a low level of protest consolidation. But it is becoming more and more difficult to do so. It is the logic of politics. Thus, only one question is relevant today: When?
Although I was one of those who strongly warned the President about the difficult coming year and the possibility of political tension in the coming spring., I do not think that the situation will evolve so critically that it would threaten the power authorities for several reasons. Above all, there is not the right degree of public discontent. This is not because the government is working well and does not give reasons for this. It is quite the opposite. People simply have lost all faith in the fact the government decides something, and that a change of government will lead to improvements. If even the President himself, defending his teammate, recognizes that a change of bosses does not change anything, the people have long understood it. This public indifference lets the government not be particularly worried, at least this year, at least in the spring. Mass expressions of public discontent will not happen.
The people do not determine Atambayev’s fate. The people, I repeat, do not care who is sitting in the White House. Atambayev’s fate is determined by the attitude of the elites, or, to be more precise, by the degree of consolidation of the elites. It is almost the only remaining evidence of the presence of democratic principles in our society.
So far, the President has been successful in political maneuvering to maintain a low level of protest consolidation. But it is becoming more and more difficult to do so. It is logic of political science. In order to maintain a low level of opposition elites’ consolidation, one can dissolve one government, or even two governments and the parliament. One can humiliate one strong political party, or even most of them, but we must understand that every such a step is not bringing us closer to solving the problem. On the contrary, it can bring to the regime change.
It was not necessary to enshrine in the Constitution such a long term for the President. During transition phases, it is very dangerous both for the President and, most importantly, for the country.
It is impossible not to draw attention to the fact that Atambayev has placed himself and his presidential destiny into a very high degree of external dependence. His term in office was at the site of activation of several geopolitical projects. Ill-conceived or because of emergency, (I do not know which one is worse), he tries to make decisions in situations where nothing depends on him, and thus constantly, so to speak, he "gets in the way." This is very annoying for all the parties. As a result, Kyrgyzstan either will be pulled into a conflict or will have to give up the remnants of its sovereignty, or there will be a change of power made by a foreign will.
While you and I are choosing what we like, other people go on the safe side and leave Barak, enclose Sokh by barbed wire, and move their assets out of the country.