A Kyrgyz election official was arrested over the weekend on a fraud charge after a person who attempted to bribe him complained that his money hadn’t been returned in full.
Akylbek Eshimov, a member of Kyrgyzstan’s Central Election Commission (CEC), was arrested on September 11 by the State Committee for National Security (SCNS). SCNS alleged that Eshimov had received a $550,000 bribe from a member of the Kyrgyzstan Party to, in collusion with one of the party’s leaders, slot the individual into the top five spots on the party roll ahead of the October 2020 election. Position on a party list is critical for actually getting a seat in parliament. According to the SCNS, “having failed to fulfill his obligations” — presumably making the switcheroo a reality — Eshimov and the unnamed party leader only returned $300,000 of the bribe, keeping $250,000.
The politician who unsuccessfully attempted to bribe Eshimov, per RFE/RL’s reporting, turned to the police after being stiffed. The politician has not been named beyond initials (A.D.) which RFE/RL suggests may fit Akunaly Dosaliev, who was ranked at 37 out of the Kyrgyzstan Party’s list of 120 candidates in the October 2020 parliamentary election.
Eshimov served in the Kyrgyz parliament with the Respublika Party from 2010 until he was nominated to the CEC in 2016. He was nominated again in 2021, this time by the Kyrgyzstan Party.
The Kyrgyzstan Party was among the four parties that cleared the 7 percent national threshold to gain seats in the Kyrgyz parliament, along with Birimdik (Unity), Mekenim Kyrgyzstan (My Homeland is Kyrgyzstan), and Butun Kyrgyzstan (United Kyrgyzstan). The results — with Birimdik and Mekenim Kyrgyzstan together capturing about half the votes — triggered protests that led to not just the annulment of the election results but the rise of Sadyr Japarov, the fall of President Sooroonbay Jeenbekov, and the pursuit of a new constitution, shifting Kyrgyzstan back to a more presidential, less parliamentary, government system.
Although Kyrgyzstan elected a new president and voted on a new constitution, it has still not gotten around to a rerun of the mangled parliamentary elections. But on November 28, Kyrgyzstan will finally hold parliamentary elections.
On September 13, a Bishkek court ordered that Eshimov be held in pretrial detention until at least November 11.
On Telegram, according to RFE/RL’s reporting, outspoken MP Dastan Bekeshev lamented that a member of the CEC being imprisoned for two months before the election is a bad sign, one that could instill fear in other members of the CEC.
Under the new constitution, approved in early 2021, half of the CEC’s 12 members are nominated directly by the president, with the other half nominated by parliament. The parliament is slated to shrink from 120 deputies to 90, and the upcoming election will feature 36 single-mandate constituencies and 54 seats filled by preferential voting from party lists.