Last week, beleaguered journalist Bolot Temirov said that Kyrgyzstan’s Interior Ministry had declared his passport invalid. Temirov’s lawyer told journalists that the Interior Ministry investigator who declared Temirov’s Kyrgyz passport invalid doesn’t have the authority to do so but that apparently the document has been invalidated anyway. Temirov discovered that his passport had been canceled while preparing for his trial, which began preliminary hearings last week.
Temirov, a well-known investigative journalist in Kyrgyzstan, has been subject to a series of accusations, which have come in phases over the past few months. Each time Temirov and his colleagues release a new investigation, something happens in response.
In January, Temirov’s channel Temirov LIVE published an investigation alleging that the family of Kamchybek Tashiev, the head of the State Committee for National Security (SCNS), was benefitting from lucrative deals with the state oil company. A few days later, police raided Temirov LIVE’s office and claimed to have found a bag of marijuana in Temirov’s pocket; he claimed it was planted by the police. Temirov and his colleague, poet Bolot Nazarov, were both arrested on drug charges. They were later released with charges pending.
In April, Temirov published another investigation into the business dealings of Tashiev’s son. That was followed by new charges: The state alleged that Temirov had illegally obtained a Kyrgyz passport 14 years ago, using forged or stolen documents, and therefore had been illegally crossing Kyrgyz borders.
Temirov was born in 1980 in Soviet Kyrgyzstan. His family migrated to Russia when he was a child and he carried a Soviet passport until 2001. He returned to Kyrgyzstan in 2006 and acquired a Kyrgyz passport in 2008. As one of Temirov’s lawyers told OCCRP: “Bolot Temirov was born on the territory of Soviet Kyrgyzstan and has an officially recorded birth, a birth certificate… Based on that alone, he is a citizen of the Kyrgyz Republic.” The canceling of a passport does not reflect the status of a person’s citizenship, but it may complicate traveling out the country.
Preliminary hearings for Temirov — who faces four total criminal cases — and Nazarov began last week. According to 24.kg, the judge asked the media and Temirov’s supporters to leave the courtroom, preferring to hold the preliminary hearing behind closed doors. Additional hearings are scheduled for this week.
Back in November 2021, RFE/RL highlighted the joint work of Temirov and Nazarov in a short video. “Folk poets used to be the journalists of their time,” Nazarov says in the video, which Temirov follows by underscoring how the poet’s songs clarify complex issues.