A friend of the son of the President of Kyrgyzstan turned out to be one of the co-owners of a construction company that implements major projects
President Sadyr Japarov spoke at the ceremony to begin the construction of two large facilities – a mosque and a multifunctional complex in the center of Bishkek. The projects are being implemented by a well-known tycoon who is suspected of smuggling. Apparently, the president’s relatives are also involved in these projects.
March 10 was a difficult day for the President of Kyrgyzstan. The heat has arrived in Bishkek. Sadyr Japarov spoke at the ceremonies for the start of construction of two large projects: a mosque for 20 thousand people in the suburbs and a multifunctional complex in the city center, which will include the construction of the tallest building in the city.
An important investor, tycoon Khabibula Abdukadyr, who made his fortune running a trading empire in collusion with corrupt Kyrgyz customs officials, also visited both construction sites with the president.
Abdukadyr’s main accomplice, a senior Customs Service official, was later found guilty of corruption and placed on US sanctions lists. No charges were brought against Abdukadyr himself, and President Japarov does not hide the tycoon’s participation in new construction projects.
“The most important thing is that they are not wanted, and there are no criminal cases against them,” Japarov told reporters the day after the construction ceremony. — On the contrary, I am interested in those who are ready to invest money in Kyrgyzstan. I will greet such people with applause.”
However, as OCCRP journalists found out, the president probably supports Abdukadyr and his projects, in which the tycoon plans to invest $300 million, not only to create a favorable investment climate.
Newly discovered documents reveal who is behind the newly registered construction firm that plans to take on both projects. Among its co-owners, in addition to Abdukadyr’s development company, there is a 25-year-old man who has no experience in either business or construction. But this young man is friends with the president’s son Rustam.
President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov (left in the foreground) and Khabibula Abdukadyr (to the left of Japarov) at the ceremony to begin construction of the Yiman Borboru mosque
Journalists also found out that another friend of Rustam, a young man who worked as a car mechanic several years ago, became a co-owner of another company together with Abdukadyr. It is not known what this company does, but it is currently renting a plot of land next to the border checkpoint through which Abdukadyr allegedly smuggled goods.
These findings echo a recent investigation by the local publication PolitKlinika. Employees of this media outlet found out that another friend of the president’s son received a 50 percent stake in a development company, against which a criminal case had recently been opened for illegal privatization of valuable real estate.
The fact that three little-known young friends of the president’s son Japarov are closely associated with such large projects makes one wonder whether the president has anything to do with this situation.
As previous investigations into Abdukadyr and his political backers have shown, little-known young men associated with key individuals often acted as directors or shareholders of companies to conceal their involvement in the business.
According to Temur Umarov, a political scientist and fellow at the Carnegie Berlin Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Zhaparov’s motives are obvious.
“This is a country that is authoritarian but pretends to be democratic,” he said. — The person who leads it can create an illusion. We have two layers of understanding of any situation. The first layer is official – which they want to convince us of, and the second is real. In real terms, it seems to me that Zhaparov and his entourage simply need to arrange their own good life.
Journalists will write that all this… should not happen, and Japarov cannot take advantage of his position, allow his circle, especially his relatives, to earn money and receive money from nowhere. But they still understand that formally he cannot, but in reality he can do everything. Nobody will stop him.”
In response to a request for comment, a spokesman for President Japarov wrote that “there were no business ties between the head of state and these individuals,” likely referring to Abdukadyr and his associates.
“They are investing a total of about $1.5 billion in the implementation of investment projects in Bishkek,” he noted, citing a figure several times higher than the cost of the projects that journalists asked about.
“Under the conditions of our country, this is a significant amount,” he added, pointing out that the socio-economic development of the republic over the past 2.5 years indicates that Kyrgyzstan continues to actively attract investments, and this brings results.
He did not answer journalists’ questions about the participation of friends of the president’s son in joint ventures.
Abdukadyr did not respond to requests for comment.
In the foreground is the site where it is planned to build the Bishkek City Center.
Friends and loved ones
The terms of Abdukadyr’s investment in the Bishkek City Center and the Yiman Borboru mosque are set out in an agreement that was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Kyrgyzstan and published on the Internet.
According to the document, the implementation of both projects will be carried out by the Uzbek company Hyper Partners, owned by Abdukadyr. In exchange for land from the state and tax breaks for a period of six years, Hyper Partners is required to invest at least $300 million in projects.
Previously, almost nothing was known about Hyper Partners, but during a previous investigation it turned out that Abdukadyr’s company, with the support of the authorities, was building another large facility in Tashkent.
The investment agreement also mentions the Kyrgyz construction company Bishkek Construction and Development, which will take part in the implementation of the projects. This company was founded on the day construction began; the document states that it is a Kyrgyz subsidiary of Hyper Partners.
But reporters discovered that this new company is a joint venture between Hyper Partners and two other firms.
One of them is Repal, a newly created Kyrgyz company about which little is known. Its only owner is a young man who received Kyrgyz citizenship in 2018 together with his father.
The second, Mega Construct, was registered just a few days before the launch of the joint venture. The documents indicate Argen Kadyrbekov, a friend of the president’s son Rustam, as the founder.
Both Argen and Rustam were born in 1997, communicate with the same group of friends, go to the same events together and appear in photos on social networks. In 2016, Rustam was a guest at Kadyrbekov’s wedding.
Rustam Zhaparov (second from right) in the photo from Argen Kadyrbekov’s wedding (in the center, next to the bride)
Kadyrbekov strongly supports President Japarov and is friends with his son, but there is almost no other information about him in public sources.
However, journalists found out that at the address where Mega Construct is registered, there is an apartment that now belongs to Kadyrbekov’s wife, and previously belonged to the president’s relatives.
In the period from 2013 to 2022, the apartment was owned in turn by Zhaparov’s two sisters and his mother. In October 2022, the apartment was sold to Rakhat Baktybekova, the wife of Argen Kadyrbekov.
Kadyrbekov and his wife have no other business. Friends of the Argen and Rakhat families describe them as poor people.
Kadyrbekov did not respond to a request for comment.
“The people and God see everything”
Kadyrbekov is not the only person from Japarov’s circle who collaborates with Abdukadyr.
Another citizen of Kyrgyzstan, Dastan Ermekbay uulu, is the owner and director of two enterprises opened jointly with Abdukadyr’s Uzbek company Tashkent Trade Center.
Judging by general photographs on social networks, Ermekbay uulu is also friends with the president’s son.
In the GetContact application, where you can see how the subscriber’s number is recorded among his contacts, it is clear that at least six acquaintances of Ermekbay uulu saved his number with a reference to the president’s son Rustam Japarov: “Dastan Friend Rustam 01” or “Dastan Security Rustam.”
Ermekbay uulu also worked for Japarov himself. He was one of Japarov’s campaign staff when he ran for president in 2020-2021.
In a couple of other cases, Ermekbai uulu was recorded by his contacts with reference to the president himself or to the already liquidated Umut Bulagy Foundation, which was headed by the first lady: “Sadir Dastan”, “Headquarters of Dastan Japarov”, “Dastan (President)” and “Dastan Umut Bulaga.”
Judging by the way Ermekbay uulu is recorded in more than ten contacts, he was related to security issues: for example, someone wrote down his number, indicating “Dastan Nach. Security.”
Now there are almost no signs of commercial activity of the joint ventures of Ermekbay uulu and Abdukadyr, with one eloquent exception. Their common company, Invest Trade, leased a plot of 96 hectares near the Irkeshtam checkpoint on the Kyrgyz-Chinese border.
The photo that Dastan Ermekbay uulu published on Instagram with the caption “at work” proves that in 2018 he worked in a car service center
As reported in previous investigations, trucks belonging to Abdukadyr’s companies transported mislabeled goods from China to Kyrgyzstan and from there to other markets, including through this checkpoint, for many years. In neighboring Uzbekistan, Abdukadyr’s companies also operate trade and logistics centers near important border points.
Ermekbay uulu did not respond to requests for comment.
It is unclear whether the president is interested in this business. In an interview about Abdukadyr back in March, Japarov said that he was not afraid of the opinions of “intriguing journalists or individuals.”
“The most important thing is that I don’t become a corrupt official, right? – said Zhaparov. “The people and God see everything.”