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KYRGYZSTAN


 

 

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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 1,737 1,632 1,500 145
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 330 290 280 178
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 316 - (26/04/07)

Bishkek Protest Erupts in Violence
A mass protest rally taking place on the main Bishkek square for several days was broken up on the evening of April 19th by forces of Kyrgyz law enforcement bodies. Dispersal of demonstration was preceded by a crowd of up to 100 young men throwing stones and bottles at militiamen, guarding the Government House. In response militiamen started dispersing young men, applying noise grenades and tear gas. About 100 young men - participants of protest rally were arrested in Bishkek.

The largest opposition newspaper Agyim has been stopped in Kyrgyzstan. General Prosecutor's office suspended the edition's publication at an independent print-shop Freedom House, took away printout plates, and also withdrew advance copies; and destroyed the electronic version. The newspaper was closed at night under the order of Kyrgyz General Prosecutor. The issue comprised materials on protest rally dispersal, press conferences of opposition leaders, Prime Minister Almazbekh Atambaev and Minister of Internal Affairs Bolotbekh Nogoybayev.

The most popular Kyrgyz news agency IA 24.kg web site has remained silent since that night. Another popular news agency AKI-press web site loads so slowly that receiving information from it is quite impossible.
To state that total censorship was introduced in the country is probably premature. However system-administrators of independent Internet-editions inform of mass hacker attacks at their web-servers, which is the more obvious explanation. 
Kyrgyz authorities have declared that they are not inclined to introduce a state of emergency or forbid the carrying out of peaceful demonstrations.

Street demos strengthen the government
Opposition leader Feliks Kulov promised that April 19 would be a decisive day in his campaign to bring early presidential elections and constitutional reform to Kyrgyzstan via street protest. The day indeed proved pivotal, but not in the way that Kulov had anticipated. Instead of ending in President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's demise, the day's events culminated with the incumbent chief executive in position to reassert control over the Kyrgyzstan's political system. 

After unruly anti-government protesters began hurling stones and other projectiles outside the presidential compound on April 19, security forces moved quickly to disperse the demonstrators and dismantle the opposition's headquarters on Ala-Too Square. By daybreak on April 20, the square had been cleansed of nearly all signs of protest, with the exception of a few shop owners repairing shattered windows. 

The rioting on April 19 "untied the hands" of Bakiyev, political commentator Orozbek Moldaliyev wrote in an analysis published by the 24.kg.news agency. "He [Bakiyev] can say, 'I put up with [protests] for a long time, but now retaliatory measures must be taken.'" 
"That the protest took on a violent nature is a vexing fact for the opposition," Moldaliyev continued. "The strict actions of the law enforcement bodies gained legitimacy." 

The sudden turn of events left opposition supporters chastened. Leaders of “For Reforms,” one of the two main opposition movements that spearheaded the anti-administration demonstrations, announced that they were halting all protest actions. They left open the possibility, however, of reviving the protest tactic in the future. 
Bakiyev appeared to waste little time in pressing his political advantage. First, the Interior Ministry announced that it had opened a criminal investigation into the cause of the mass unrest. Then, in an indication that Bakiyev intends to conduct a broad crackdown against his opponents, law-enforcement agents seized the entire print runs of the opposition newspapers Agym and Kyrgyz Rukhu. 

"Between 4 and 5 a.m. guys from the militia and state security services came to our office; there were about 30 people, armed," said an employee of the foreign-funded printing press that produces the newspapers. "They took printed press runs of Agym and Kyrgyz Rukhu, the plates, and even demanded that we delete the files [off our computers]." He added, "they said these papers were part of that case [against the] organizers of the mass meeting." 

Later, authorities raided the United Front headquarters and the main office of Kulov's Ar-Namys party, seizing computers and files, according to local reports. Ata-Meken party leader Omurbek Tekebayev told AKIpress that investigators had approached his office with the same intent, but that his staff had refused them access because they lacked proper documentation. 
Several members of Kulov's United Front were brought to the headquarters of the State Committee on National Security for questioning on April 20. Human rights defenders who visited the party activities said the detainees were being deprived of several basic rights, including access to legal counsel, the AKIpress news agency reported. 

Kulov himself was scheduled to appear before the committee on April 21. Many of “For Reforms” and the United Front's top leaders are members of parliament, and therefore enjoy immunity from prosecution. Asiya Sasykbayeva -- director of the nongovernmental group Interbilim and a member of “For Reforms,” told EurasiaNet that the authorities were now targeting politically active civic leaders. 

Appearing before a special parliamentary session on April 20, General Prosecutor Elmurza Satybaldiyev said that he did not know the reasons behind the seizures and other investigative tactics, the 24.kg news agency reported. "The General Prosecutor has many other duties beyond issuing warrants," Satybaldiyev said. He added that investigators' moves to question United Front members were "within the boundaries of the law," and that the newspaper seizures must have had "some justification." 

Washington objects to press crackdown
The United States protested a raid by Kyrgyz security forces on a facility where opposition newspapers are printed. The police action in the capital Bishkek on April 20 followed several days of protests against the government of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. 
The State Department is expressing disappointment over the action by Kyrgyz authorities, and it is calling on the government in Bishkek to respect the right of the media to report and publish information and opinions on recent events there without interference. The written statement by State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack followed an early-morning police raid on a printing facility - supported by the U.S. non-government organization Freedom House - where two opposition newspapers are published.

Freedom House, which appealed for U.S. officials to speak out on the case, said the police confiscated all copies of the latest press run of the two papers, as well as the printing plates, and demanded that the newspapers' electronic files be deleted. Freedom House said the Kyrgyz security officers at the site said the raid was in response to anti-government demonstrations that have been underway since April 11th.
Spokesman McCormack said the act of censorship by the Kyrgyz government, which he said has benefited from a free press and publicly declared its support for independent journalism, is disappointing. He also said political disagreements in Kyrgyzstan must be resolved by the Kyrgyz people in a lawful, peaceful and constitutional manner.

The Washington-based Freedom House sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on April 20, calling the raid a serious violation of press freedom and urging her to take up the matter with the Kyrgyz government.
The private organization's advocacy director, Paula Schriefer, told VOA human rights conditions in the country have been mixed, since the Bakiyev government was swept into power in a street revolt in 2005, promising democratic and economic reforms:
"Certainly you have seen on-going issues of censorship in regards to the press, you have seen things like the demonstrations being broken up yesterday, in perhaps not the kindest way possible. So it is really been a mixed picture, and the feeling at Freedom House is that now is really the time to make sure the U.S. increases its emphasis on supporting human rights and free press in Kyrgyzstan, as it is undergone a lot of change with the new government," she said.

The newspaper facility raided by the authorities, called the Media Support Centre Foundation, contains the only independent printing press in the country. The two papers based there have been critical of the Kyrgyz government and its handling of the latest demonstrations, which turned violent and were broken up by police using teargas and stun grenades.
Protestors accuse the Bakiyev government of corruption and failing to live up to reform pledges.
Freedom House, which monitors and evaluates respect for human rights in countries world wide, rated Kyrgyzstan partly free this year in its annual survey, Freedom in the World. The Central Asian state was given medium-to-low ratings on civil liberties and political rights, and the organization said the overall trend there was downward, because of renewed authoritarianism on the part of the president. 

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ECONOMY

Economy grows 7.3% to 21.1bn som in Q1

Kyrgyzstan's GDP grew tentatively 7.3 per cent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2007 to 21.119 billion som, the National Statistics Committee said, Interfax News Agency reported on April 10th. 
GDP minus the Kumtor gold mining project would have been 19.965 billion som, up 9.5 percent. Inflation was two per cent.
Industrial output grew by 1.1 per cent to 13.23 billion som or, minus Kumtor, by 9.9 per cent to 10.112 billion som.
Extractive industry output fell 3.5 per cent year-on-year to 226.4 million som, and manufacturing output fell 2.1 per cent to 8.9 billion som. Output by the utilities sector (power, gas and water) rose by seven per cent to 4.104 billion som.
Output grew 2.1 per cent to 7.004 billion som in agriculture and forestry, 45.7 per cent to 1.418 billion som in the construction sector, 6.2 per cent to 6.067 billion som in freight and 24.3 per cent to 1.406 billion som in communications. Capex rose 64.8 per cent in the quarter to 1.827 billion som.
Kyrgyzstan had a foreign trade deficit of US$179.6 million som in January-February 2007. Imports came to US$331.6 million and exports to US$152 million.

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MINING

Kyrgyzstan to seek 61% stake in Centerra Gold

Kyrgyzstan will look to increase its interest in Centerra Gold, which is developing the Kumtor gold deposit, to 61 per cent. Kyrgyz Prime Minister, Azim Isabekov, said that the government and parliament were ready for a new round of talks with Canada's regarding increasing Kyrgyzstan's interest in Centerra Gold, currently 16.66 per cent, to 61 per cent, Interfax News Agency reported.
The first two rounds of talks took place behind closed doors in Istanbul and Moscow. Cameco owns 52.6 per cent of Centerra Gold. Isabekov said a special commission of government and parliament representatives had been set up. "We don't like the terms by which Centerra Gold's 100 per cent-subsidiary Kumtor Gold Company has been operating lately, so we are initiating talks," Isabekov said. "We've calculated that during the course of the Kumtor project Cameco has earned about 150 million Euro and has capitalized its interest in Kumtor by 975 million Euro. Cameco has made 1.125 billion Euro from the project in total, while Kyrgyzstan has received 610 million Euro, or half as much, taking taxes, dividends and the value of shares on the stock market into consideration," Almazbek Dzhakypov, the head of KyrgyzAltyn, the company that represents the Kyrgyz government in Centerra Gold, said at a parliament meeting. 

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TOURISM

Visa Relaxation to boost tourism

Turusbek Mamashev, director of the State Agency for Tourism, announced that his organisation and the Kyrgyz foreign ministry will soon be putting forward a proposal to the government to allow citizens from 28 wealthier developed nations to visit Kyrgyzstan without a visa, Interfax News Agency reported. 
Observers stated that allowing foreigners from the wealthier nations to enter Kyrgyzstan without a visa will boost tourism, but the implications for national security also need to be considered. Since 2002, nationals from these 28 countries have been able to enter Kyrgyzstan more easily by obtaining their visas on arrival. Sapar Orozbakov, director of the Bishkek-based Centre for Economic Analysis, thinks the move could increase the threat Kyrgyzstan faces from extremist organisations, who could abuse the right to come in and out of the country without a visa.

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