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PORTRAIT. Sadyr Japarov, the President with a mafia flavor

Who would have, three months ago, bet a Kyrgyz som (€ 0.01) that Sadyr Japarov, 52, would be elected President with 79% of the vote, accompanied by a green light from 81% of the voters to amend the Constitution in a more presidential sense? To the turbulent Kyrgyzstan, everything is possible in politics. The small Central Asian country has cultivated a curious alchemy since its Tulip Revolution in 2005: the most democratic of the former Soviet republics is the one that overthrows its heads of state the most.

Preserve the business

Sadyr Japarov was still very strong. At the beginning of the 2000s, in his native region of Issyk-Kul, the thirty-something in a hurry made his fortune in a small oil business, to the point of being elected deputy in 2005. He was close to the top in 2008, at the head of the national anti-corruption agency, no doubt to ensure that business of President Bakyev’s clan who appointed him …

The fall of Bakïev, in 2010, sent Japarov back into agitated opposition… until the hostage-taking of a provincial governor which earned him a ten-year prison sentence. He was purging it when his followers took him out of the cell, military hands, October 4, taking advantage of the chaos caused by rigged legislative elections.

The immediate suspicions

To everyone’s surprise, it was Japarov who won the day, by being proclaimed interim Prime Minister by a handful of deputies gathered in a hotel guarded by big arms, not smiling… The suspicions were immediate. What if Japarov was the man of organized crime, and in particular Raimbek Matraïmov, ex-director of customs who became a billionaire? Everywhere, in the countryside, we saw the same big arms not smiling holding banners: Japarov, president!

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