The head of Kyrgyzstan’s security services revealed in a speech on October 19 that the government has spent over $2bn on bolstering the state security apparatus, in part to prevent popular uprisings of the kind that ushered him into office.
Kamchybek Tashiyev said in the speech, which he delivered at the inauguration of new premises for a local branch of the State Committee for National Security, or GKNB, in Kara-Balta, a city in the northern Chui region, that the investment was aimed at “bolstering the strength and power of the state”. He refrained from explaining how this spending was being funded.
“The country must be strong. The armed forces, military personnel, security, and law enforcement agencies must be strong. In [the past] two years, more than $2 billion have been spent on strengthening the State Committee for National Security and other law enforcement agencies,” he said.
Tashiyev has made little secret of the overtly political dimension of his agency’s operations. In his speech, he alluded approvingly to the recent case of a 70-year-old retiree in the city of Jalal-Abad who was jailed for 10 days over social media posts critical of the government.
The GKNB chief described such sentiments as fuel for public upheaval that could weaken the nation.
“We will not allow our people to be cast into turmoil. Because our people have been roused, our country has had two, three revolutions. Our country has not come to live any better because of that. With every coup, our country has grown weaker,” he said.
The three revolutions to which Tashiyev appeared to be referring were the toppling of president Askar Akayev in 2005, the overthrow of president Kurmanbek Bakiyev in 2010, and, finally, the unseating of president Sooronbai Jeenbekov in 2020. That last bout of unrest was what paved current President Sadyr Japarov’s way to power. One of Japarov’s first moves once in office was to appoint his old friend and ally Tashiyev as GKNB chief.
The role and heft of the GKNB has been growing ever since that time. Around 30 new premises for the service have been built under Tashiyev’s watch.
Further efforts have been made to ensure the loyalty of rank-and-file officers. Hundreds of apartments have been gifted to GKNB agents in Bishkek and Jalal-Abad over the past two years. In February, Japarov pledged that he would within three years provide state-backed mortgages to any security service employees that had not yet been allocated apartments.
In additional to buildings and personnel, the government has also spent lavishly on materiel. In July, Tashiyev said that more than $1.3bn has been splashed out since 2021 on procuring and upgrading military equipment. Notable acquisitions have included Turkish-made Bayraktar, Aksungur and Akinci drones, Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters, as well as air defence systems.
Ayzirek Imanaliyeva is a journalist based in Bishkek.
This article first appeared on Eurasianet here.