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Omurbek Tekebayev about life in prison colony and biggest political mistake

Convicted of corruption and serving a sentence in penal colony No. 47, leader of Ata Meken party remains at the center of public attention. News related to Omurbek Tekebayev still cause great interest.

24.kg news agency interviewed the disgraced politician. The questions were handed over to him on January 19. The answers were received three weeks later.

How important it is not to humiliate a person

— Omurbek Chirkeshovich, how do you assess the conditions of detention? What would you like to change? What causes difficulties or suffering?

— I should note: since the moment of my detention on February 26, 2017, the employees of the State Committee for National Security treated me with respect and were polite.

The same attitude was on the part of the employees of pretrial detention center 1 and the penal colony 47, where I am now.

I must admit that the criminal-executive laws and regulations are applied taking into account the personality of a detainee, arrested and convicted.

With all my negative attitude to political opponents, I must say that they did not allow conditions of detention that humiliate human honor and dignity in relation to me.

Omurbek Tekebayev

Although they could do it. For example, I have never been handcuffed or forced to walk with my hands behind my back. I walked as I usually went to work. But this does not mean that I was provided with some privileged conditions of detention in the pretrial detention center of SCNS.

At my request, I was placed in a separate cell. The cell was standard. However, the requirements to me were stricter. For example, I was forbidden to listen to the radio and watch TV, when others were allowed it.

I was kept in complete isolation. I maintained contact with the outside world exclusively through my lawyers.

My lawyer Isken Afidzhanov visited me five times a week.

I do not believe, I’m not afraid, I do not ask and keep my head shut

— Do you have any complaints about the conditions of detention and the attitude of the State Penitentiary Service and the people around you?

— Now I’m on the territory of penal colony 47. I do not recognize the justice of the decisions of the courts against me and I am sure that we will get an acquitting judgement. The motivation gives me strength, helps me to endure the hardships of life in the colony. I feel a moral superiority over my political opponents. Their so-called victory was Pyrrhic.

— What do you do during the day?

— It’s common knowledge that a prison is not a resort. It is improper to complain here. Back in the early 2000s, I, Almazbek Atambayev and other comrades visited Felix Kulov — the first political prisoner of Kyrgyzstan. Then Felix Kulov in a few words told the basic rules of life in the colony: «Do not believe, do not be afraid, do not ask and keep the head shut!» These rules help me a lot!

Benefits of reading

— What has changed in your life in prison conditions?

— I have good conditions, the best can be in a penal colony. Both employees and prisoners treat me with respect. At my request, I live separately.

I am visited not only by close relatives, but also by well-known politicians, public and state figures, leaders of political parties and my comrades (Roza Otunbayeva, Felix Kulov, Iskhak Masaliev and others).

Each of them brings books that, in their opinion, I must necessarily read while being here.

I have a large library. Probably, I will come out of there not only as a wise, but also as more educated person.

Omurbek Tekebayev

From visit to visit

— I was a closed person, I loved being alone, as people say now, I was an introvert. Nobody then, including me, did not expect that I would become a public figure.

Now I seem to have returned to the past, into my youth. Now I’m alone with my thoughts, experiences, plans and hopes. Only at a higher level, taking into account life experience. This sets me up in a philosophical way, which, in its turn, helps me to bear today’s conditions.

The days are monotonous. I’m engaged in physical education, reading newspapers and books, watching TV programs, listening to the radio.

Omurbek Tekebayev

Sometimes I write down my thoughts. And I wait for the next visit. Time here is measured by visits. You live from visit to visit.

There are a lot of rules and requirements in correctional facilities of Kyrgyzstan that have remained since Soviet times, which do not meet modern realities.

Now I know the penitentiary system from the inside and I know how to reform it in order to make correctional facilities to fulfill their basic re-education mission.

Omurbek Tekebayev

I also now know how to improve the conditions of prisoners.

Who turns the convicts against

— Please, comment on the letter of Almazbek Abekov addressed to you.

— Abekov is a puppet in someone’s game. Last year, in April, he was transferred to the SCNS detention center and was attempted to use against me. He wrote a statement to Abdil Segizbayev, making false accusations against me. One tried to hype this, using KTRK and other state-owned media.

Abekov gave an interview to a KTRK journalist being in prison! It is clear which political forces are behind Abekov. In my opinion, the distributors of the last statement of Abekov set three tasks: to turn prisoners against Tekebayev (Abekov states that Tekebayev must answer to the prisoners why his Constitution does not work, why the judicial reform failed, and so on); certain political groups, including the SCNS, are preparing an alibi for themselves (if something happens with Tekebayev, it can be attributed to the hostile attitude of the prisoners to Tekebayev on the basis of political and ideological differences); once again to downgrade Tekebayev’s honor and dignity.

I acknowledge and repent

— What, in your opinion, was the biggest mistake in your political activity?

— After the parliamentary elections in 2010, President Roza Otunbayeva instructed the leader of SDPK Atambayev to form a government in accordance with the Constitution. Almazbek Atambayev failed it.

Then Roza Otunbayeva publicly stated that she would give the mandate for the formation of the government to the parliamentary faction Ata Meken, that is, to me.

I refused the mandate in favor of Omurbek Babanov, who nominated Almazbek Atambayev for the post of prime minister, and thanks to this, he later became the president of the country.

Many politicians and faction leaders asked me, even demanded, not to give up this mandate. But I did not listen to them, and this was, in my opinion, my biggest political mistake.

If I had not refused the mandate to form a government, Almazbek Atambayev would not have become the president of Kyrgyzstan.

Omurbek Tekebayev

History would have evolved differently...

Omurbek Tekebayev, February 9, 2018.

24.kg news agency thanks the lawyer Isken Afidzhanov for help in preparing the interview.