Bakiyev’s extradition is a personal matter for President Lukashenko
Extradition request concerning members of Bakiyev’s family is an extremely sensitive issue for President Lukashenko. Belarusian authorities will not extradite and will put pressure on Kyrgyzstan through various channels in response.
On October 2nd, Kyrgyz MFA reiterated that it was still waiting for Belarus’ response to the official note requesting extradition of the former Kyrgyz head Kurmanbek Bakiyev.
To extradite former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and his brother Zhanybek, currently in Belarus, would be extremely difficult. The main reason is President Lukashenko’s personal involvement in their fate. In particular, in 2010, the Belarusian president said that he personally had invited Bakiyev in Belarus.
As a result, Belarusian law enforcement authorities refuse to extradite Bakiyev’s family members. Repeated extradition requests from the Kyrgyz Prosecutor’s Office regarding Kurmanbek Bakiyev and Zhanybek Bakiyev have been rejected by the Belarusian Prosecutor General’s Office on the grounds that at home they may be subject to political persecution. Such a waiver is envisaged by the Convention on legal assistance and legal relations in civil, family and criminal cases (1993 and 2002), to which Kyrgyzstan refers its extradition requests.
The situation is overcomplicated by the fact that Zhanybek Bakiyev has been declared internationally wanted by Interpol. Also Belarus has the sovereign right to decide on the issue. Finally, Belarus does not extradite its own citizens: unofficial reports say, that Kurmanbek Bakiyev was granted Belarusian citizenship back in 2010. It is likely his brother Zhanybek also has a Belarusian passport. The detention of Bakiyev’s proxy, former director of Gosmatreserves Mr. Rakhmanov, who possessed Belarusian passport, issued in 2011, also confirms these reports.
In Bakeyevs’ case, Belarus is not limited to passive defense, but actively attacks. Earlier, President Lukashenko said that Kyrgyzstan was not ready to join the Common Economic Space, and that it still had a lot to do in this regard. Also Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Belarus to Kazakhstan Mr. Brylev said in an interview with www.Tengrinews.kz, that Belarus was not ready to see Kyrgyzstan in the Customs Union until political issues had been resolved. The main issue in question is Bakiyevs’ case, which has already resulted in the recall of Kyrgyz Ambassador from Minsk.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.