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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
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)

Books on Kyrgyzstan


Area ( 


ethnic groups
Kyrgyz 52.4%
Russians 21.5%
Uzbeks 12.9%


Kyrgyz Som 

Askar Akayev

Update No: 295 - (29/07/05)

'Tulip Revolution' turning against US
The 'Tulip Revolution' is turning sour on one of its main instigators - the US. The Soros Foundation and other NGOs galore from the West were right behind it, and now the regional tyrannies are turning on them.
But Kurmanbek Bakiyev, just the day after his landslide victory in the Kyrgyzstan's July 17th presidential election, told a press conference the presence of a US military base in the Central Asian republic should be reconsidered. Following 9/11, the US military were allowed to use the Manas airport base in Bishkek to conduct military operations against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Rent paid by the US to use the base has reportedly provided millions of dollars to Kyrgyzstan's state budget. Former president, Askar Akayev, supported Washington's global "war on terror" and was applauded by the US for his suppression of "Islamic extremism". 
In September 2003, however, Akayev agreed to allow Russian military forces to be deployed at Kant airbase, just 46 kilometres from the US base. This was seen by Western analysts as bending to the Russian wind as a counter to US influence. An anti-US turn was already apparent under the old regime.
Bakiyev emerged as the leader of last March's "Tulip Revolution" - a pro-democracy uprising that forced the previous president, Akayev, to flee to Moscow, where he claimed the uprising had been organised and financed by Washington to install a pro-US regime. Akayev had been the country's president since 1990, when it was a constituent republic of the USSR. Shortly after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in late 1991, Akayev was re-elected in multi-party elections. 
The March 24th uprising against him was sparked by widespread anger among Kyrgyzstan's 5 million inhabitants over electoral fraud, government corruption and widespread poverty. 
The irony is that Akayev's regime followed the recipes prescribed by the International Monetary Fund to restore capitalism in Kyrgyzstan. As a result, the tiny republic now has the largest debt per capita in Central Asia and almost 60% of the population live below the poverty line, according to World Bank figures. 
In an interview with Associated Press in Moscow on July 1st, Akayev said Washington wanted to project its influence in Central Asia and was apparently vexed by his efforts to balance US, Russian and Chinese interests in Central Asia. "I did everything to balance the interests of the three great powers. But the United States doesn't want a balance. Americans want [others] to have a clear orientation on Washington." 

US conspiracy?
Akayev's claim that the US had organised his overthrow was based upon reports that Washington had provided support to the Kyrgyz opposition through pro-Western non-governmental organisations. The February 25th Wall Street Journal, for example, reported that one of the main NGOs working with the opposition, the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, was being funded by the National Democratic Institute in Washington, which is financed by the US government (but then Moscow is not known for financing NGO's). 
US President George Bush later hailed Akayev's ousting as part of the "march of freedom around the world" that included the US- organised elections in occupied Iraq. He told the general assembly of the Organisation of American States on June 6: "In the last year-and-a-half - think about this - we've witnessed a Rose Revolution in Georgia, an Orange Revolution in Ukraine, a Purple Revolution in Iraq, a Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, a Cedar Revolution in Lebanon - and these are just the beginnings. Across Central Asia, hope is stirring at the prospect of change - and change will come." 
In the July 17th presidential election, Bakiyev won 89% of the votes cast. Human rights commissioner Tursunbai Bakir Uulu, known for his Islamist orientation, finished a distant second with 3.73% and Akbaraly Aitikeyev, the head of the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, followed him with 3.63%. 
Bakiyev had served as prime minister under Akayev in 2000-02, but had resigned following mass protests after police fired on opposition protesters. He then moved over to the opposition, leading protests in March that culminated in an opposition takeover of government buildings in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, and Akayev's flight to Moscow. Bakiyev took over as interim prime minister, pending the new presidential elections. 

US Bases
At a July 18th, news conference, his first after winning the election, Bakiyev told reporters: "This election can be called a convincing victory of the popular revolution." He then went on to say that Kyrgyzstan intended to review the presence of US troops on its soil. He made no mention of the presence of Russian troops. 
The Kyrgyz news agency AKI quoted Kyrgyzstan's ambassador to Moscow, Apas Jamagulov, as saying on July 18 that the US base at Manas would be "gradually" shut down, while stressing that the Russian base, at Kant, two minutes flight time away, would remain operational. 
At a July 5th summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation - an alliance comprising Russia, China and all of the former Soviet Central Asian republics except Turkmenistan - the leaders of these six member-states issued a call for the US to set a deadline for removing its troops from air bases in two of the SCO's member-states, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. 
Originally set up in 1996 to deal with border disputes between its member states, the SCO has transformed itself into a regional security alliance, including organising joint military exercises. 
US officials responded angrily to the SCO call. On July 14th, General Richard Myers, the top US military officer, accused Russia and China of bullying the Central Asian states into issuing the call. "Looks to me like two very large countries were trying to bully some smaller countries", Myers told reporters at the Pentagon. 
Bakiyev's support for the SCO call, however, would not require no "bullying" from any outside powers, but simply that he reflect the sentiments of the majority of the Kyrgyz people. Three years ago, the US BusinessWeek magazine reported that an April 4, 2002 US State Department study had found "that most people in Uzbekistan, Kazakstan, and Kyrgyzstan oppose an extended US military presence". 
However, US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited Bishkek on July 25th-26th to meet with Kyrgyz defence minister Ismail Isakov. The meeting duly took place, the upshot being that Rumsfeld effectively leaned on this small state just as their giant neighbours, Russia and China, had leaned on them previously at the Astana meeting of the SCO. But Russia had already taken a firm line with new president Bakiyev, who earlier had announced on July 17th that with the appeasement of the situation in Afghanistan, it was time for the US to pull out of its base in Kyrgyzstan. Amidst smiles, handshaking and pledges to co-operate against terrorism and any resurgence of this in Afghanistan, the complete opposite was voiced and Bakiyev now says that the situation there was still not stable. Therefore his government would continue to support the struggle, but his last word on this was that "the timetable for withdrawal would be decided in accordance with the development of the situation in Afghanistan." There was however a rider "…and within the framework of US- Kyrgyz relations," not what Moscow would have wanted to see, allowing as it does the prospect of massive subventions from Washington, to keep what they have got.

'Next oil frontier'
China's "Peoples Daily Online" reports that far from departing, the US seeks to consolidate its military presence in Central Asia. In his July 14th comments on the SCO call, Myers said that having bases in Central Asia "is important to the United States for lots of reasons, not just for operations in Afghanistan." He failed to elaborate what these other reasons are. However, they were outlined some years ago in BusinessWeek. 
The May 27th, 2002, edition of BusinessWeek ran a cover story - "The Next Oil Frontier"- in which it reported: "American soldiers, oilmen, and diplomats are rapidly getting to know this remote corner of the world, the old underbelly of the Soviet Union and a region that's been almost untouched by Western armies since the time of Alexander the Great. 
"The game the Americans are playing has some of the highest stakes going. What they are attempting is nothing less than the biggest carve-out of a new US sphere of influence since the US became engaged in the Mideast 50 years ago. 
"The result could be a commitment of decades that exposes America to the threat of countless wars and dangers. But this huge venture - call it an Accidental Empire - could also stabilise the fault line between the West and the Muslim world and reap fabulous energy wealth for the companies rich enough and determined enough to get it." 
"From incidental sums fewer than five years ago", the report added, "the amount of US investment in the region has jumped to US$20 billion... Major investors include ChevronTexaco Corp, Exxon Mobil Corp., BP PLC, and Halliburton." 
The BusinessWeek article explained that key to these companies exploiting the oil and gas wealth of Central Asia is the construction of pipelines that lead south to the Persian Gulf or the Indian Ocean, where it can be shipped by tanks to the energy-hungry Japan and China. However, Washington wants pipelines "that will help its friends in the region and freeze out its enemies - especially the Iranians". 
That, of course, means the construction of oil and gas pipelines that run south through Afghanistan and Pakistan. The big US oil companies have had such pipeline projects on their drawing boards since the mid 1990s but have been held up by the continuing warfare in Afghanistan - first between the Pakistani-trained Taleban and the rival Islamist and warlord factions grouped in the Northern Alliance, and now between the US-led occupation forces and the remnants of the Taleban. 
"What is fast evolving is a policy focused on guns and oil", the 2002 article in BusinessWeek observed. "The guns are to protect the local regimes from Islamic radicals and provide a staging area for attacks on Afghanistan. The goal is 'to get rid of terrorism, not just get it out of Afghanistan', says A. Elizabeth Jones, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs. The guns, of course, will also protect the oil ..."
It all reflects the fact that foreign policy decisions under the Bush governments have not reflected the realities of the world, when these are in contradiction to a neo-con projection of US influence and power. Envisaged on the grand scale, as though the immense and complex region of central Asia was in some way a cohesive entity, one can see that if the US were to seriously go down this road, with a hostile Russia and China resenting their presence, the capacity for disaster could make Iraq look like a side-show.

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Micro-credit promotes rural business culture in Kyrgyzstan 

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) poverty reduction programme has over past years provided assistance to micro-enterprise in Kyrgyzstan. Micro-credit programmes extend small loans to very poor people for self-employment projects that generate income and help them to look after their families. The target of the programme are the poorest families who suffer poor access to credit, with no experience of running a business and lacking marketable skills. The programme is based on the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that aims to boost rural livelihoods, among other things and the National Poverty Reduction Strategy (NPRS), IRIN reported recently.
Olga Grebennikova, UNDP Kyrgyzstan's public affairs officer, recently said that in the capital Bishkek there were long term changes to the culture of the people who had learned to use micro-credit as a tool to improve their lives. The programme in Kyrgyzstan that began in 1998, in a small group of villages participating in a pilot scheme has spread rapidly throughout Kyrgyzstan and currently operates in 130 villages. It works by organising low-income communities into self-help groups that flourish into rural cooperatives and micro-credit agencies. 

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OSCE gives Kyrgyzstan a helping hand with tourism

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) Centre in Bishkek is helping to promote foreign tourism in Kyrgyzstan in the wake of unrest in March by organising tours of the country for foreign journalists, New Europe reported recently.
The first group of European and American journalists began a visit to the country on June 10th. This visit was organised by Destination marketing Association and the Helvetas project in cooperation with the International business council, the Kyrgyz government and the OSCE Centre.
It is expected that several groups of journalists from Europe, the United States and Commonwealth of Independent States countries will also visit Kyrgyzstan in the near future. Through these tours, the journalists will become better acquainted with the real environmental and political situation in the country and create tourists. "Foreign tour operators reacted predictably to the March 24-25 events and some trips for the coming summer season were cancelled," said Ruslan Bakirov, manager of Destination. He added that these tours and the newspaper reports would show that Kyrgyzstan is safe now and there is no threat to foreign tourists. It has been reported that Kyrgyzstan and the Issyk-Kul Lake area in particular, is ready to receive tourists. "Kyrgyzstan has remarkable natural sites and tourism can be the locomotive development," said Asim Acikel, the OSCE centre's economic and environmental officer, adding that international marketing can help to counter negative media reports about the region.

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