Crossroads Asia

Kyrgyz Authorities Arrest Unnamed Suspect for the Murder of Ulan Salyanov

Salyanov’s sister, Aida, was recently convicted of abuse of office, charges she and her supporters say were politically motivated.

Kyrgyz Authorities Arrest Unnamed Suspect for the Murder of Ulan Salyanov

Kyrgyzstan’s parliament building

Credit: Catherine Putz

Police in Bishkek say they’ve arrested a 31-year-old man suspected of the murder of Ulan Salyanov, the brother of former Kyrgyz Prosecutor General and opposition politician Aida Salyanova.

According to the Kyrgyz Interior Ministry, Salyanov was shot on November 6 after several masked men entered his house. As RFE/RL reported at the time, the ministry dismissed the possibility that the killing was politically motivated. But as Franco Galdini suggested in the introduction to his interview with Salyanov’s sister, which The Diplomat published this week, the masked men took nothing from the home and their uniformed appearance suggested organization. In the absence of an alternate motive, politics is a possibility.

Aida Salyanova was, from April 2011 to January 2015, Kyrgyzstan’s Prosecutor General. At present she is a member of Kyrgyzstan’s parliament, representing the Ata-Meken opposition party.

Ata-Meken’s leader, Omurbek Tekebayev, was arrested in early 2017 on corruption charges which his supporters say were politically motivated. Then-President Almazbek Atambayev had instructed the country’s justice system to investigate Tekebayev in late 2016 after a document allegedly from 2012 was mailed to Kyrgyz authorities from Belize (yeah, it’s a bit of a nutty story) which apparently connected the dots between Tekebayev, Salyanova, and Almambet Shykmamatov (another Ata-Meken member), and an offshore company opened by Maxim Bakiyev, the much-reviled son of Kyrgyzstan’s second ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

Tekebayev was arrested, however, for allegedly taking a $1 million bribe from a Russian businessman and it was on that charge he was convicted in August — two months ahead of the presidential election he had hoped to contest — and sentenced to eight years in prison.

In October, Salyanova was convicted of abuse of office stemming from her time as Prosecutor General and sentenced to five years — though her imprisonment will be postponed until her 2-year-old daughter is 14. (Galdini’s interview has more detail on this).

A month after her conviction, Salyanova’s brother was murdered and now, nearly two months later, Kyrgyz authorities have arrested a single individual. Details are thin, with the authorities withholding the suspect’s name and saying only that the 31-year-old man was in possession of a Makarov pistol, which was used to kill Salyanov.