Promising business project in Central Asia turned into an international scandal. Nobody famous Czech company Liglass Trading has won the tender for the construction of several hydropower plants in the framework of a large-scale project of the upper Naryn cascade in Kyrgyzstan in very strange circumstances.
The scandal involved the administration of the President of the Czech Republic, as well as, apparently, the leadership of the Central Asian republics, which signed a contract with Czech company, despite the negative position of his own Ministry of foreign Affairs.
Now the controversial project Liglass Trading in Kyrgyzstan may be a weave of two or three factors which, unfortunately for the Czech Republic, merged into one particular project.
Populists hit each other
Kyrgyzstan should become a Central Asian Switzerland. Such a perspective was offered after the collapse of the Soviet Union’s first President Askar Akayev. But political and economic freedom was soon restricted. The first and then second President was overthrown revolution. Now Kyrgyzstan overcome economic problems and still can not get rid of the stigma one of the poorest republics of the region. And just a beautiful Kyrgyz nature and crystal clear water there is something reminiscent of Switzerland.
Just water is of Kyrgyzstan is of strategic importance. In fact, water is the only source of energy available to this Central Asian Republic. Large deposits of oil or gas there. Both Kyrgyzstan has to import. In addition, the river is the only energy source that can reduce the growing year by year, the shortage of electricity, existing in Kyrgyzstan. The lack of electricity so palpable that it’s regularly cut off, even in the capital Bishkek.
From the point of view of Kyrgyz energy security, the completion of the upper Naryn cascade are extremely important. Therefore, the Kyrgyz government is trying to turn the completion into a political issue. Current President Almazbek Atambayev promised that the project will commence before the end of his presidential mandate, i.e. until the fall of this year. The next presidential term of the President to claim not to be, but the new head of state could be his protégé, the current Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov.
To Atambayev had reason to boast of a successful policy, and, therefore, maintain his influence, he needs to show voters something extraordinary. And what could be better than a political bomb in the form of a new and reputable investor from the distant European Union, which will save the country from energy problems?
So that the interest of Czech companies to the hydroelectric power station in Kyrgyzstan as a gift from heaven for the President. Talking about it, Kyrgyz experts. Initially the company Liglass Trading was interested in the construction of small HPP and the upper Naryn cascade she received after the fact. Even without a tender.
Therefore, it has been suggested that large-scale hydropower project of the company Liglass Trading could simply impose to President Almazbek Atambayev was able to show himself a man of action. This is consistent with his authoritarian tendencies, which he became famous.
“In fact, the scandal erupted only because the whole world was rocked by the news that a Czech company will replace the Russian holding “RusGidro” in the project large hydro. But it seems that the Czechs did not want. They hoped that will win in the tender for small HPPs. No one thought that the Czechs will get large power plant,” said the server Tiscali Kyrgyz political analyst Edil Baisalov.
The political trap into which, apparently, landed a Czech company is actually satisfied with the administration of the President of the Czech Republic. Ahead of presidential elections Milos Zeman is advantageous to present as a skilled lobbyist for Czech companies. After all, he recommended to his Kyrgyz counterpart Liglass Trading. Such an image may at least partly compensate for not meeting Zeman with Donald trump and overshadow gossip about the state of his health.
Therefore this project two presidents (one who puts the journalists, and second, who would prefer to eliminate them) could please each other.
For all seek Moscow
Initially, the completion of power stations of the upper Naryn cascade was engaged in the Russian company “RusHydro”. For Russia, this project had special economic significance. The completion was part of the fatty bait with which Kyrgyzstan wanted to persuade him to participate in the Russian integration project in the post-Soviet space — the Eurasian economic Union.
To complete the project to the Russians and failed. In January 2016, the Kyrgyz government has terminated the contract with Moscow. How, then, said the President Almazbek Atambayev, Russia stopped funding the construction due to the economic crisis. Subsequently, the problems associated with the lack of financial resources has been recognized and the Kremlin. Despite the official version about the lack of money, the removal of the Russian holding from the project has caused tensions in relations between Moscow and Bishkek.
“Because of the “RusHydro” state company, she was not interested in the problem of profitability. For the company the project was important because of the prestige, presence in the country and control over the course of the largest river in Central Asia. His role was played and corruption,” explained Baisalov.
According to Kyrgyz experts, it is impossible to exclude the hypothesis that Liglass Trading is Moscow. By Czech company it could either seek the return to the project of the upper Naryn cascade or hinder the participation in the project of Chinese competitors.
“If you look at this scandal from the point of view of geopolitics, we can assume that Russia could lure Atambayev, using a shell Corporation, to avenge terminated the original contract. Moscow also wants to prevent in Kyrgyzstan were the other players, for example, China,” said Baisalov.
The political scientist is sure that in the result the agreement with the Czech company will be terminated, and after the presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan in the project of the upper Naryn cascade will go back to the Russians.
Version that for Liglass Trading can stand Moscow, does not exclude the Kyrgyz investigative journalist Elnur Alkanova. She told the server Tiscali that Russia is not interested in strengthening of positions of China in Central Asia and can take all sorts of attempts to prevent the spread of influence of Beijing, including using dubious Czech company.
That Liglass Trading and RusHydro, apparently, there is a link that shows a list of objects, construction of which was allegedly attended by the Czech firm. According to initial reports the official website (now completely changed for the Kyrgyz project and the data is gone), Liglass Trading participated in the construction of Saharistoi hydroelectric power station in Russia’s North Caucasus. This plant belongs to RusHydro.
The money in the first place
Apart from geopolitics and the game of powers in the Central Asian region, in which Czech businessmen could become pawns, Kyrgyz transaction of the company Liglass Trading looks doubtful.
“Corruption here lies in the fact that the Kyrgyz government introduced the right for implementation of the national project worth nearly a billion dollars is a small company, which is the only consulting firm and has experience in construction of HPP. Furthermore, this firm does not meet any of the criteria stated in the tender,” explained Elnur Alkanova.
The main person in the case of receiving the order for the construction of HPPs in Kyrgyzstan is jiří voytekhovsky. On the website Liglass Trading it appears the CEO of the company in Eurasian region. According to the official record, voytekhovsky engaged in business projects in the former Soviet Union. First, he was a Manager in the ESA Group, and then worked in companies ESI Eastern Investment. 2013 voytekhovsky is the Executive Director Liglass Trading.
From the commercial register on Voitekhovski you can learn a little more. For example, in late January of this year he founded, together with Michael smelyk the Czech-Kyrgyz chamber of Commerce, whose goal is “to strengthen economic and trade relations between the Czech Republic and Kyrgyzstan to defend the interests of the Czech economy in Kyrgyzstan, as well as the interests of the Kyrgyz economy in the Czech Republic and to promote the interests of its members.”
In Kyrgyzstan voytekhovsky — known figure. In Kyrgyzstan, his company ESI Eastern Investment, which until February of last year called City Food deals, including the sale of alcoholic beverages. According to information available to us, along with Smelyk voytekhovsky long tried to enter the energy market of Kyrgyzstan.
Czech dealer of alcohol managed to win a government contract and to avoid even the Chinese competitors? Probably Voitekhovskaya managed to attract influential lobbyists. The scandalous letter of the Chancellor Vratislav Minara that was sent to the presidential administration of Kyrgyzstan, could be just a safety net.
“Voitehovschi has ties to the President of Kyrgyzstan. We are a very high-ranking figures,” says Edil Baisalov.
According to him, this proves the fact that Liglass Trading has won the tender, despite the negative response, sent to the government of the Kyrgyz Ambassador to Austria (he also represents Kyrgyzstan in the Czech Republic). Because of this writing, the Kyrgyz foreign Ministry also opposed the contract with Czech company.
“In any country, the position of the foreign Ministry — is an important factor in the approval of important state decisions. Therefore, only two or three people in the country can wipe out a very negative response, directed our Ambassador in Vienna”, — said Kyrgyz expert.