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 could to step up the opposition representation in local councils, should party members demonstrate potency. The Belarusian leadership is unlikely to have the resources to ensure 100 percent pro-government candidates in the local elections. The authorities have exhausted the grassroot support and have no funds to pay for the loyalty.
The Belarusian Central Election Commission has proposed to hold the elections to the local Councils of Deputies on February 18th, 2018.
The president has repeatedly emphasised the importance of the local councils in the power system and the state machine always tried to ensure the necessary local election results. Candidates have been decreasing in number with each elections and the authorities dealt with that by reducing the deputy corps. That said, during the rule of President Lukashenka, his electoral base has changed substantially. Over the past decade, most Belarusians have moved to cities and lost their local roots. The rural population is ready to support the president, but rural residents are constantly decreasing in number.
The Belarusian leadership is likely to permit broad participation in the election campaign and an increase in alternative representatives in the local councils. However, the opposition would have to boost its activity, so as so far it has been passive in defending its interests. In addition, the authorities, while determining the date for the local elections, have taken into account the fact that the opposition is usually the least active in the winter time.
Overall, both, the opposition and the local authorities have exhausted their grassroot support, however new local leaders may still come on political stage, although the party opposition has not yet shown sufficient aspirations.