People & Power untangles the dangerous links between sports, crime and politics in Central Asia.

In January 2006, a prominent Kyrgyz wrestler, Raatbek Sanatbayev, was shot dead. Police link his killing to the fact that he was running for the presidency of the country's Olympic committee, a lucrative and influential position in the masculine and aggressive world of Kyrgyz politics.

In this mountainous central Asian state, crime and sport are closely interwoven. In fact - it appears that whoever controls the wrestling gyms controls Kyrgyzstan.

The previous chairman of the Olympic Committee, Bayaman Erkinbayev, was also killed violently. The deaths and the failure to bring anyone to account have sparked rows between rival government agencies. At one point, troops from one ministry surrounded the building of another ministry and demanded the return of one of their employees.

Amongst rumors of high-level corruption, contract killings and increasing signs of authoritarian rule, Juliana Ruhfus travels to Bishkek to investigate what was behind the killings and learn more about the dangerous, sweaty world of Kyrgyz politics.


This episode of People & Power first aired in November 2006.

Source: Al Jazeera