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: 276 - (01/01/04)
Central Asian maverick
The Kyrgyz republic has a leader, Askar Akayev, who is unusual in not having been the communist party boss before independence. He has been responsible for attracting interest and credit from the West.
Presidential elections loom in 2005, from which he is debarred from standing by reason of the constitution. His second term expires then. He has said that he will abide by the constitution. But there are calls for him to stand all the same.
Elizabeth Jones, the feisty US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Asia, was in town recently and stated her belief that there would be free and fair elections in Kyrgyzstan. She also said that the US was particularly interested in the development of a civil society there.
First private printing press opens
She could not have spoken more aptly. The republic is, thanks to the US, achieving a major breakthrough here. As if to prove the point the new departure has already been criticised openly.
Kyrgyzstan officially opened its first independent printing house in Bishkek, the capital city, on November 14th. Subsidised by the US advocacy group Freedom House, which campaigns for the global expansion of political and economic freedoms of the press in Kyrgyzstan.
"The independent printing house will boost Kyrgyzstan's independent media," Rina Prizhivoyt, the editor of the MSN (formerly the Moya Sotlitsa, which was closed down due to a lawsuit) independent newspaper said in Bishkek.
The programme will help publications that cannot afford the prices and terms of Uchkun, the government-owned printing house. The facility could also process orders from neighbouring countries like Kazakstan and Uzbekistan, which would certainly affect the development of independent media too, project manager, Ramis Ziyangaraev said. It is registered by the Kyrgyz Justice Ministry as the Centre for Mass Media Support.
"It will be led by a board of directors, comprising representatives of international organisations, the Kyrgyz and US administrations, members of parliament, and journalists as well," Ziyangaraev explained.
Bermet Bukasheva, the chief editor of the independent Litsa newspaper, is hopeful that the facility will also increase freedom of speech in Kyrgyzstan "Those newspapers that were publishing under threat of closing will feel more confident. They will report about the human rights situation more confidently, and therefore the situation with regard to human rights will improve," she said. But she added that whereas the impact of the independent printing house's opening would be positive in the short term, it would be difficult to foresee its long-term influence.
"The monopoly of Uchkun will be lessened and a more competitive environment will appear. In the economic sense, the opening of the independent printing house will positively impact on the development of the mass media in Kyrgyzstan," Turat Akimov, the chief editor of KyrgyzInfo, a local news agency, said.
There are some people and groups not so quick to smile about the entire project, however. Pro-government newspaper Vecherny Bishkek said the independent printing press from Washington is an attempt to manipulate content in Kyrgyzstan, a former soviet republic, asserting that "the West intends to seize the fourth estate" in Kyrgyzstan.
What is clear is that the new printing house will provide services at lower prices, partly due to the fact that it will be operating free of value added tax. Also, new technologies at the facility will enable it to print full colour publications.
Uchken president, Kanybek Imanaliev, said that starting in November the group would cut its prices and work to develop the facility's quality and printing terms." "We are going to use its (the new printing house's) services. The key factor will be the economic one - prices," Bukasheva said.
MSN editor-in-chief Alexander Kim said: "The most important thing is that the authorities will be deprived of the monopoly on publishing activities."
EBRD to pay 1.4bn for 25% of Ineximbank
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) recently announced it will purchase a quarter of Ineximbank, the sixth largest bank in Kyrgyzstan, Interfax News Agency reported. EBRD is prepared to pay US$1.4bn for the 25% stake. The joint contract was signed recently in Bishkek.
Fernand Pillonel, the head of the EBRD office in Kyrgyzstan, said the investment was to make sure Ineximbank held a stable role, aimed, especially at financing small- and medium-sized business. The Kazakstan-based Temirbank picked up 46% of Ineximbank a few months ago. This is the second example of Kyrgyz and Kazak banks working together after Kazkommertsbank bought Kyrgyzavtobank in 2002.
Kyrgyzstan gears up to pay off debt to IMF
The Kyrgyz government is prepared to pay off its debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and petition for part of its external debt to be written off, Kyrgyz Prime Minister, Nikolai Tanayev, said, Interfax News agency reported recently.
"In 2004, we have to finish the joint programme with the IMF and get the Paris Club to write off part of the country's external debt for US$450m," the premier said. Kyrgyz Finance Minister, Bolot Abildayed added: "Since the beginning of the year, to clear the domestic and foreign debt of Kyrgyzstan, 1.8m som have been allocated." According to Abildayev, 11.4bn som have come into the budget in the first three quarters of this year. Tax revenue amounted to 8.4bn som, up by 967.9m som compared to the same period of 2002. "The general expenses of the central budget, with account taken of state debt, reached 6bn som," the finance minister said, adding that the general debt of local budgets on salary payments grew in the reporting period. After nine months, it has reached 124.5m som, while last year, this debt equalled 92.7m som to local administrations since the beginning of 2003.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS
Bishkek, Moscow and Washington in joint projects
Kyrgyzstan's Ministry of Ecology and Emergency Situations will collaborate with Russia and the United States to implement a number of projects, Minister Satyvaldy Chyrmashev said, Interfax News Agency reported.
"We are cooperating with the Russian Ministry for Civil Defence and Emergencies, the Ministry of Ecology and the Ministry of Atomic Energy. We are planning a number of projects with each of them in 2004," the minister said. The Russian Ministry for Civil Defence and Emergencies provided 32 pre-assembled houses to residents of south Kyrgyzstan who were stricken by a landslide in 2003, he said.
"Another 20 pre-assembled homes will be supplied to Kyrgyzstan soon. They will be set up in a village near Bishkek, which is suffering from high underground waters," Chryrmashev added.
The Russian Atomic Energy Ministry has earmarked US$160,000 to prepare for the reconstruction of uranium tailing dumps in Kaji-Sai in northern Kyrgyzstan. "To be frank, the Russians know the condition of our tailing dumps better than we do because they were working here in Soviet times," the minister said.
With respect to Kyrgyzstan's cooperation with the United States, Chyrmashev said: "The Kyrgyz Ministry of Emergency Situations received vehicles, communication systems and mining rescue equipment from the American government this year."
INVESTMENT BACKGROUND REPORTS
Our analysts and editorial staff have many years experience in analysing and reporting events in these nations. This knowledge is available in the form of geopolitical and/or economic country reports on any individual or grouping of countries. Such reports may be bespoke to the specification of clients or by access to one of our existing specialised reports.
For further information email:
Considering an investment or a trip to any newnation? First order our Investment Pack which will give you by e-mail the last three monthly newnation reports and the complete worldaudit democracy check for the low price of
US$12. The print-out would be a good companion to take with you. Having read it, you might even decide not to go!
To order please click here: