Exclusive: “We Will Start a War” – Kyrgyz Thugs Threaten Canadian Gold Miners

Kumtor Operating Company's logo

The Canadian-run goldmine accounts for 12 per cent of the country's GDP.

Back in May 2013, Global Voices covered the trail of political chaos that resulted when protests close to Kyrgyzstan's Kumtor gold mine turned violent. Now a secret video has emerged that appears to show the hand of organized crime in the protests and points to the likelihood of future conflicts over the mine.

Peace for money

On August 28 a video featuring men widely acknowledged as instigators of the May unrest negotiating with representatives of Kumtor's parent company Centerra Gold appeared on YouTube and other video-sharing platforms. On camera the two men attempt to extort money from the company, offering peace and stability in the communities around the mine in return. One of them said, ”If they try to put pressure on us, we will start  a war.”

The video was ostensibly shot in July 2013 and released on state television in late August. Centerra Gold funds various projects in the region surrounding the mine, where locals are divided between supporters and opponents of the company.

Following the release of the video, Kumtor Operating Company announced that it was providing “full assistance” to the authorities in investigating the incident. Kurmanov and Junushbaev subsequently organized [ru] a road block on August 29 to protest against what they claimed was a fake video. They were arrested and are now awaiting their trial.

Netizens had their say on forums and news blogs, with opinions varying from those who felt [ru] the video was a fake created by the Kyrgyz security services to those who argued the footage was real and who registered their disgust [ru] at the local thugs.
Below is the only publicly available video in Russian and Kyrgyz with exclusive unabridged English subtitles.