A Central Asian country of incredible natural beauty and proud nomadic traditions, Kyrgyzstan was annexed by Russia in 1864; it achieved independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Current concerns include: privatization of state-owned enterprises, expansion of democracy and political freedoms, inter-ethnic relations, and terrorism.
Update No: 271 - (24/07/03)
President to step down at end of his term
President Askar Akayev is remarkable in central Asia in being the first leader there to agree to step down voluntarily at the end of his current term. He has been leader since independence in 1991, as have all other Central Asia presidents (bar Tajik president Rakhmonov elected in emergency circumstances in 1994, his ailing predecessor dying shortly afterwards).
Akayev is to benefit from a wide range of privileges on retirement. Kyrgyzstan's lower house of parliament has adopted bills on lifetime guarantees to the first president of the state and the ex-first secretaries of the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic's Communist Party.
"The bills pay respect to former leaders of Soviet Kyrgyzstan and the first incumbent president of Kyrgyzstan, Askar Akayev, the generator of a new idea of statehood and a new approach to reform," Kubatbek Baibolov, the architect of the bill, was quoted as saying. The bill was developed from similar acts in other member states of the CIS. "When his term in office ends, the first president of Kyrgyzstan shall enjoy immunity. He cannot be held responsible for actions or inaction during his presidency," the parliamentarian was quoted as saying.
According to Baibolov, the first president shall have an office, a secretariat and assistants. "He shall also own an official apartment and dacha and a luxury car with a driver," he added.
A monthly pension, representing 80% of his presidential salary, will also be a benefit bestowed upon the first president, Baibolov said. "Every member of the first president's family who lives with him shall have a monthly allowance," he noted.
A total of 2.6m soms will be earmarked from the state budget each year to ensure the president's money.
"Two former first secretaries of the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic's Communist Party, who are currently parliamentary deputies, shall have the right to official apartments and dachas, free medical assistance, a car with a driver, and lifetime pension amounting to 75% of their parliamentary salaries," the official was quoted as saying.
Russian air base to balance US one
Kyrgyzstan cooperated whole heartedly with the US after 9:11, giving the US the use of a large air base, Manas, which is only 150km from the Chinese frontier. Convenient for the use of surveillance aircraft over Afghanistan, it is equally so for keeping an eye on China, albeit by subtler means. A full complement of 3,000 US personnel is planned there eventually.
This is to be counterbalanced by a Russian air base shortly. Kyrgyzstan is prepared to sign an accord with Russia which calls for the transformation of the Kyrgyz military airfield in the town of Kant into a Russian air base. The agreement is due for signature in early July. "Talks are underway with the Russian Defence Ministry to determine the signing date," a Kyrgyz government source was quoted as saying. "The document will probably by signed in Kant from July 6th to July 8th," the source added. The deal offers a blueprint for subsidising the Russian air base that will be attached to the CIS Collective Security Forces. The accord also legalises the Russian military's status in Kyrgyzstan. "Russian Defence Minister, Sergei Ivanov, is expected to arrive for the signing ceremony," the source said.
Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan develop friendly ties through water main
Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are developing friendly relations through water mains for two boundary villages, AKI press reported.
The project called "Pure water - guarantee of health" has been launched in the south of Kyrgyzstan.
Its primary goal is to strengthen amicable relations through supplying drinking water to the population of Jekemiste village of Aravan district (Kyrgyzstan) and Nayman village of Markhamat district (Uzbekistan).
From now on, at least 4,000 residents of these two boundary villages will be supplied with drinking water due to joint efforts of local authorities and financial support of foreign donors.
Large settling pits and 13-km-long water pipes were constructed in each of the above-mentioned villages.
World Bank to invest in Maili-Suu uranium storage facilities
The World Bank announced it would spend US$5m in the upgrade of uranium storage facilities based just outside of Maili-Suu (southern Kyrgyzstan), Interfax News Agency reported.
"These funds will be provided under the World Bank's assistance programme for Kyrgyzstan, which was approved by the bank's board of directors in May 2003," Orunbek Shamkanov, coordinator for environmental protection programmes under the bank's Bishkek office, said. "These grants will be extended at the Kyrgyz government's request and will be spent on rehabilitating some of the storage facilities in Maili-Suu that pose the biggest threat to environmental security in the Fergana Valley, which marks the border between Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan."
MINERALS & METALS
Gold output down
Kyrgyzstan reported 7,511 tonnes of gold output in the January-May 2003 period, nearly 12% less than it recorded in the same period last year, Dilger Zhaparov, vice president of Kyrgyzaltyn, a state-controlled mining company, said recently. Kyrgyzlatyn produced 550 kilograms, about 15% less than in the five-month period of 2002, falling short of the target by 110 kilograms, Interfax News Agency reported.
Joint venture Kuntor Gold Co produced 6,961 tonnes, more than 11% less than in the same period of 2002, but just over the 6,381 target. "Production dropped because gold grading in ores were lower than expected," Zhaparov said.
Kyrgyzstan willing to lose state property for symbolic US$1
The Kyrgyz government expects to give up state property for a symbolic US$1, Interfax News Agency reported. "This is part of a new model for privatising government property," Dayir Kenekeyev, deputy head of the state property committee's centre for direct investments, was quoted as telling a news conference.
"The investor will receive a so-called 'clean' enterprise, meaning one that is free from debt, and promises to invest in its development every six months," the official said. "But new laws will be needed to introduce the new model, as existing ones do not cover this type of transaction."
According to him, the pilot project of offering companies to investors for a symbolic payment may be adopted by the end of December.
Two companies have been chosen for it: Aidanfarma, a drug company and Aksui maize-processing plant.
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