Saturday, September 24, 2005

Bayaman is dead

On Wednesday night, just after 10 p.m., I was watching a DVD episode of the Sopranos on my computer screen. At the same time, the deputy Bayaman Erkinbaev was returning to his home in Bishkek. When he stepped out of his car, he was shot several times and died.

This was big news. No one talks about his bad side, but he is pretty generally viewed as a bandit. A very rich and powerful bandit and deputy in the national legislature.

I heard the news when my colleague checked the internet. I thought he had disappeared after the unrest at the Kara-Suu market and the shootout at his Alai Hotel in Osh. I guess it would have been smarter for him to stay out of sight a while longer.

On Thursday evening I tried to go to aerobics. The wrestling center and sports hall was also owned by Bayaman, an athlete who was also head of the Kyrgyz Olympic Committee. A wide sheet of paper hung on the front door with two black ribbons hanging on either side. In large black text it read, “Due to the tragic event of the murder of Bayaman, we will be closed to attend the burial ceremonies until September 26th.”

“All that work he put in, all the effort to get more and do more, and it’s all gone,” our driver, Malan, said.

The news stories say that the government arrested Bayaman’s bodyguards several days before and that he’d been left without protection. The Prime Minister, Felix Kulov, said that Bayaman came to him two days earlier, said he knew that someone was trying to kill him, and told Kulov the name. He asked Kulov to announce the name publicly should anything happen to Bayaman.
Whether this is true or not, who knows, but Kulov says he told the security services the name.

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