Kyrgyz journalist Bolot Temirov (file photo)
BISHKEK -- Kyrgyzstan's Interior Ministry has denied that politics are behind the launching of probes against noted investigative journalist Bolot Temirov, who was first accused of illegal drug possession before being charged additionally with forgery and illegally crossing the border, which he denies.
Speaking to reporters on April 21, ministry spokesman Bakyt Seitov described as "groundless" statements by Temirov and his supporters saying that the probes launched against him were fabricated and linked to his professional activities. Temirov, who was summoned to police for questioning on April 20 and April 21, has insisted that drugs found at his home by police in January were planted in retaliation for his investigative reports about corruption among top officials of the country, including President Sadyr Japarov and the chief of the State Committee for National Security (UKMK), Kamchybek Tashiev. Bishkek city police announced the forgery and illegal border-crossing charges this week, saying that Temirov, who was born and raised in Russia and holds a Russian passport, allegedly used forged documents to obtain a Kyrgyz passport in 2008 which he used to illegally exit and enter Kyrgyzstan in recent years. The new charges came a day after Temirov's YouTube channel published an investigative report that questioned the activities of a company owned by Tashiev's son, Taimuras, which had won several construction tenders in the southern Jalal-Abad region in recent months. Temirov said that the new charges were filed against him because of the report. Neither Tashiev, nor the UKMK have commented. Interior Ministry spokesman Seitov alleged on April 21 that Temirov also illegally obtained Kyrgyz military registration papers using forged documents, which the journalist also rejected as false. Temirov was arrested in January along with noted Kyrgyz traditional bard singer Bolot Nazarov, known for performing renditions of Temirov's investigative reports as songs. The two were freed amid rallies demanding their release but ordered not to leave the country until a probe against them was completed. The arrests in January came after Temirov's YouTube channel, Temirov LIVE, launched an investigative report alleging high-level corruption in Kyrgyzstan surrounding the activities of the state oil company. Temirov was among 12 people recognized by the U.S. State Department last year as anticorruption champions.