Kyrgyzstan Sends an Ambassador to Belarus

 
 

In late August 2012, Kyrgyzstan called its Ambassador to Belarus back to Bishkek. While the cause of the rift between the two states remains largely unresolved, this week a Kyrgyz Ambassador once again took up residence in the Belarussian capital.

RFE/RL reports that Kubanychbek Omuraliev presented his credentials to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko this week. Interfax quoted a spokesman from the Kyrgyz ministry of foreign affairs as saying full activity at the Embassy in Minsk would resume.

“We hope for intensification of bilateral relations with Belarus, for development of integration ties within the membership of Kyrgyzstan in the Eurasian Economic Union, for implementation of the existing potential of our cooperation,” the spokesman reportedly said.

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Relations began souring between the two former Soviet states in 2010 when ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev fled to Belarus. Minsk has ignored repeated extradition requests over the years–including as recently as February 2015. Bakiyev, his brother, and a number of supporters have been tried and convicted in absentia in Kyrgyzstan for crimes ranging from abuse of office to corruption and murder. Meanwhile, Bakiyev allegedly gained Belarusian citizenship and purchased a home outside of Minsk worth $2 million.

The 2012 break in relations came after pictures surfaced which seemed to show Janysh Bakiyev, Kurmanbek’s brother, at a cafe in Minsk. Chris Rickleton wrote for Eurasianet at the time that “Perhaps no man in Kyrgyzstan is more hated than Janysh, who is accused of mass murder and wanted by Interpol for kidnapping and organized crime.”

According to the spokesman quoted by Interfax, the Bakiyev issue remains on the Kyrgyz-Belarusian bilateral agenda. But it’s doubtful the Kyrgyz government actually believes any progress will be made with regard to the Bakiyevs. If history is any lesson, the Bakiyevs will continue their life-in-exile in Belarus uninterrupted.

When Bakiyev was chased from power in 2010, both the U.S. and Russia stood behind the interim government. Some argued that Russia wanted Bakiyev gone after he reneged on a pledge to kick the Americans out of Manas–he had settled for raising the rent. In 2014 the U.S. left the airbase at Manas.

Lukashenko, who was having his own struggles with Russia in 2010, said “Russia and the West create a terrible precedent when they support an illegal government that came to power through bloodshed.”

In the intervening years, Russia has reasserted dominance in regional politics, most notably through the Eurasian Economic Union. Belarus was a founding member of the EEU and Kyrgyzstan the union’s most recent addition.

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