“From sky-high flyovers to the security of Kyrgyzstan’s borders”

“My father was a Derby winner and a Kyrgyz equestrian sports champion in Soviet times. To participate in various equestrian sports competitions anywhere, my father often traveled by train and plane, and my mother accompanied him everywhere. From the very first days of my life, I was accustomed to flying by plane, and that’s probably why I later became a military pilot,” says Colonel Almaz Maksutov. “I learned to drive a car professionally much later, only at the age of 40.

In school, I was a good student. I was fond of history and geography. Mathematics was easy for me, and I was skilled in drawing and physics. My mathematics teacher persuaded me to enter the physics and mathematics department, as I often used to find unusual solutions in algebra and participated in school competitions.

It is possible that my analytical mindset began to find its expression at school, was developed in military school, and found realization later on, in the course of my duties. I wanted to be a lawyer - if not a lawyer, then at least a pilot or a space engineer. In 1986, I entered Balashov Higher Military Aviation School and flew in L-410s, An-24s, An-26s and studied Il-76s. I started working in military transport aviation in Siberia, applied for the cosmonauts’ squadron and underwent preliminary training. I felt in my element while in the sky. If in 1992 I had not been suddenly called back home by the Kyrgyz Defense Ministry, maybe I would have stayed in the Russian Armed Forces and become a cosmonaut,” says Almaz Maksutov with a smile.

Almaz Maksutov is today the Head of the Department of the Border Service of the State Committee for National Security of the Kyrgyz Republic*, a government agency that is one of the main partners implementing a regional project on strengthening cross-border cooperation. Colonel Maksutov has contributed to the project and cooperation between partners from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, UNODC Programme Office in Kyrgyzstan and its Regional Office for Central Asia, as well as other agencies.

Upon his return to independent Kyrgyzstan, young Almaz Maksutov served in the Ministry of Defense forces and engaged with information reviews and analytical work. In 1995, he started studying terrorist threats and prepared an analytical review on the activities of the Taliban movement. Since 2004, his job was to cooperate with international organizations, engaging in measures to strengthen border cooperation with Central Asian countries, particularly Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Selected to work in the State Service on Drug Control, he has always been successful in using his analytical skills and putting forward proposals. According to Almaz Maksutov, not all of his initiatives used to get approved the first time around, but since cooperation with UNODC began, many of them have been applied, yielded results, and strengthened the partnership.

“Having read about the UNODC XAC/K22 project on ‘Enhancing the capacity of border crossing points and improving regional cross-border cooperation by promoting the Border Liaison Offices’ concept and the development of information and communication networks for border agencies’, I approached the management with a proposal to create a team to coordinate the work of national agencies with UNODC. I began to coordinate these activities while in the State Service on Drug Control and later in the Border Service. In the past, at the very beginning of the cooperation with UNODC, I also approached representatives of CARICC about opening a branch in Osh, given the need to pay increased attention to the so-called ‘Osh Hub’ of drug trafficking. In 2014, as part of the development of the Department of Mobile Operative Teams, I developed the concept of developing mobile operative groups, but it was not fully considered. However, a year later, on the same basis, a concept to develop this service was approved and started with the support of UNODC.”

“We have well-established and fruitful cooperation with the UNODC Regional Office for Central Asia. One of the first and important outcomes of our joint work in the past has been establishing cooperation with the Drug Control Agency in Tajikistan and its subdivisions in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast,” says Almaz Maksutov. “This work has been implemented with the direct support of Yusuf Kurbonov. He is the UNODC International Coordinator for the project on strengthening cross-border cooperation in Central Asia between the law enforcement agencies of the countries in the region responsible for combating drug trafficking and border protection. He has made an important contribution not only to the development and implementation of UNODC projects in the region but also to establishing warm relations with our colleagues from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, and introduced us to many experts and specialists in these areas from the US, European countries, Russia, Georgia, and Ukraine.

Previously we had worked only with the Border Services of neighboring countries, then later on, when the UNODC project on strengthening cross-border cooperation began to gain momentum, when other agencies such as Customs Services, Counternarcotic Agencies and Interior Ministries joined as well, we began to expand interagency cooperation and saw all the benefits of this work in practice.”

Almaz Maksutov speaks warmly about his experience of working with the UNODC regional project on strengthening cross-border cooperation in Central Asia: “I can only give positive feedback on our cooperation. What I am particularly impressed by is the openness to our ideas, proposals and projects, as well as the promptness and real support in promoting and implementing these ideas. We have never been restricted to any limiting frames. This is probably why the cooperation results we have are very good since both parties are eager to cooperate.”

Almaz Maksutov always welcomes the opportunity to cooperate and is eager to support various UNODC initiatives. “The opening of the Center for the Coordination of the Activities of Border Liaison Offices at the Border Service Headquarters in Bishkek in 2017 under the above-mentioned UNODC project was probably one of the most important milestones. Our initiative was really appreciated by all parties, including donors and colleagues from other countries in the region. This was the beginning of development in this area. We have plans to open an operational management unit at the center in the city of Osh.”

The purpose of the center is to ensure real-time collection, compilation, processing and analysis of data coming from the Border Liaison Offices to plan and develop recommendations on combating transborder organized crime in the areas of drugs, weapons and ammunition trafficking; international terrorism and extremism at borders; and to promptly take proactive and preventive measures. Specialized analytical software products, such as IBM i2 and iBase, IBM i2 Analyst’s Notebook, ArcGIS geoinformation system are used in the center’s daily activities.

At present, there are five Border Liaison Offices (BLOs) operating in Kyrgyzstan: Bor-Dobo Road and Karamyk Road at the Kyrgyz-Tajik section, Dostuk Road at the Kyrgyz-Uzbek section, Akzhol Road at the Kyrgyz-Kazakh section of the state border, as well as Manas Airport. These offices operate at checkpoints with the highest rates of passenger and cargo flow. In the near future, there are plans to open at least two more BLOs, including at the railway border crossing point.

“Employees who have undergone training courses within the project, including the study of law enforcement based on intelligence collected using specialized software, are able to apply their knowledge and skills in a targeted and efficient manner. These software products have made it possible for us to assess risks and predict at what time of year a challenging situation may emerge at the border. This greatly helps the service plan joint actions and increases the efficiency of border cooperation. It is based on this data that we develop interaction and work plans on information exchange with colleagues from other agencies and neighboring countries. Examples of this cooperation include cases of detaining individuals involved in drug trafficking, members of terrorist groups and internationally wanted persons at the border,” says Colonel Maksutov.


*As of 2021.  


By Nurangez Abdulhamidova and Shakhnoza Zafari


Эта статья на русском языке


For further information, please contact:

Nurangez Abdulhamidova

Communication and External Relations Officer

UNODC Regional Office for Central Asia (Dushanbe)

Email: nurangez.abdulhamidova[at]un.org