Books on Kyrgyzstan
Update No: 294 - (28/06/05)
Events are continuing to unfold in Kyrgyzstan. The revolution
in Kyrgyzstan has not run its full course as yet. There is little sense of
nationhood amongst the scattered communities in the enormous Tian shan mountain
chain, and those of the towns within the Ferghana Valley to below the South.
On June 17th protesters, angry at the exclusion of their candidate from
elections, briefly seized the main government building. They are pro-Akayev
adherents, the president ousted in March, or so the current administration
The protesters said their action was provoked by the Central Election
Commission's refusal to register Urmatbek Baryktabasov as a candidate for the
presidential poll, due on July 10th.
The authorities say Baryktabasov is ineligible to run because he holds a Kazakh
passport. They say the protesters were paid by people close to the Akayev family
keen to use his exclusion as an excuse to seize back power.
Kyrgyzstan is very much a clan society - one lot is objecting to another lot
getting into power - Akayev himself was a compromise President when the
competing clan candidates were deadlocked..
Kyrgyzstan government says it will crush unrest
Kyrgyzstan's government warned on June 18th that it would take tough new
measures to crush unrest, after the events of the previous day."We have
been too shy to show force to the people. From now on, we will use force in a
pretty tough way," Acting Deputy Prime Minister Adakhan Madumarov told a
news conference, in response to a question from a German journalist.
The government describes the protests as an attempted coup by supporters of
former President Askar Akayev, who fled into exile in Moscow after an uprising
Acting President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, whose face smiles down from billboards all
across Bishkek, is widely expected to win a July 10th presidential election. His
government is keen to avoid any comparison between the March uprising which
brought it to power -- a rebellion it describes as a democratic revolution --
and the June 17th events.
"One can be talking today of a counter-revolution financed by the former
regime," Acting Deputy Prime Minister Daniyar Usenov told a news
conference. He conceded that the unrest showed the government had yet to
establish full control over the volatile country. "We realise not all
district heads or regional governors support today's state power ... I have no
doubts that if yesterday's coup attempt had succeeded, a certain judge would
have ruled already in the evening that it was all lawful.
Kyrgyzstan seeing counterrevolution attempt - acting Deputy Premier says
Supporters of ex-Kyrgyz president Askar Akayev's rule are financing an
attempt to organize a counterrevolution in Kyrgyzstan, said acting Deputy Prime
Minister Daniyar Usenov. "There are grounds to talk about a
counterrevolution in Kyrgyzstan, which is being financed by supporters of Askar
Akayev's regime," Usenov said at a press conference in Bishkek on June
There are some supporters of ex-president Akayev in the current executive,
legislative, and judicial branches, who are "discontented with the current
Kyrgyz authorities," he said.
The events that happened in Bishkek on June 17th, when hundreds of protesters
fomented public unrest and attempted to seize the government building,
"followed a well-rehearsed scenario," Usenov said. "These actions
are aimed at thwarting the elections or toppling [acting president Kurmanbek]
Bakiyev. These are well-orchestrated actions and shows," Usenov said.
Kyrgyz revolution: taking a turn in an unpredictable direction
Kyrgyzstan's revolution is veering off in an unpredictable direction, that
is becoming very obvious. Persistent infighting and controversial political
appointments are raising doubts about the provisional government's ability to
promote civil society. Already, several alarming trends are evident that, if
left unaddressed by the provisional government, could create new sources of
dispute and frustration among Kyrgyz citizens.
All branches of Kyrgyzstan's provisional government remain bogged down in
political matters connected with President Askar Akayev's abrupt and messy
downfall on March 24. Some local political analysts say the governmental
paralysis is largely connected with a "wild scramble for power" among
members of the new political elite. In the weeks and months leading up to
Kyrgyzstan's parliamentary election in February, which proved to be the
revolution's detonator, top members of the erstwhile opposition to Akayev set
aside personal ambitions and rivalries to forge a united front against the
president. Now that Akayev has departed from the scene, the glue keeping the
provisional government together seems to be rapidly decaying, with the briefly
suppressed internal rivalries quickly reasserting themselves.
The executive branch, headed by the provisional government's leader, Kurmanbek
Bakiyev, has come under broad attack for its personnel policy. According to
critics, Bakiyev and others in the leadership are trying to pack the top levels
of Kyrgyzstan's bureaucracy with friends and family members, essentially
repeating a pattern followed by Akayev and indeed corrupt rulers everywhere, but
certainly in Central Asia.
In highlighting the problems plaguing personnel appointments, the MSN newspaper,
formerly a leading anti-Akayev news outlet, focused on the actions on interim
Finance Minister Akylbek Japarov. A letter from a "group of
businessmen" published April 5 by the newspaper complained that Japarov is
gutting the staff at the ministry, replacing them with relatives and members of
his own clan, which hails from the Naryn Region in eastern Kyrgyzstan. "For
example, the new head of the Bishkek tax inspectorate is Nurlan Japarov, the
interim minister's brother. The head of customs at Bishkek airport has become
Nurlan Makeyev, a relative of Japarov," the letter stated. Corruption
within the ministry is rampant under Japarov, the letter claimed.
Bakiyev has faced criticism for supposedly basing policy decisions on personal
political considerations, rather than the state's interests. Bakiyev is a
leading contender to become Kyrgyzstan's president once elections are held. But
he is expected to face spirited competition from other influential politicians,
including Feliks Kulov. Kulov's decision to resign as the provisional
government's security coordinator is widely seen as driven by displeasure over
Bakiyev's personnel moves and throws his hat into the ring of the presidential
Political analysts are also linking the inability of parliament to resolve
Akayev's political fate to the growing power struggle. Clarifying Akayev's
status is seen as an essential element in placing the actions of Kyrgyzstan's
government back on solid constitutional ground. The Kyrgyz legislature has
wrestled for four days with the issue of Akayev's resignation, which was
tendered in Moscow April 4 in a deal brokered by Parliament Speaker Omurbek
Tekebayev. Ratification of the resignation has met with stiff resistance from
some MPs, who say the parliament should impeach Akayev instead.
On April 8, the Kyrgyz parliament took action that would seem to preclude
Akayev's possible return to Kyrgyzstan, voting to strip the former president's
family members of immunity from prosecution. In addition, parliament imposed a
ban on Akayev's future participation in the country's political process. At the
same time, MPs again deferred debate on the central issue - whether or not to
accept Akayev's resignation - until April 11.
Some observers place a significant amount of blame on Bakiyev for the drawn-out
debate on Akayev's resignation. Bakiyev, according to political analysts Dinara
Karatayeva and Alexandr Gabuyev, may be working to prevent acceptance of the
resignation out of a desire to check the growing political influence of
Tekebayev, the parliament speaker.
"By securing Askar Akayev's voluntary resignation, parliament Speaker
Omurbek Tekebayev significantly increased his own political capital,"
Karatayeva and Gabuyev wrote in an analysis published April 7 in the Russian
daily Kommersant. "It is well known, however, that he [Tekebayev] is a
long-time enemy of Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Now, in order to eclipse Mr. Tekebayev's
achievements, Mr. Bakiyev may try to push through the procedure for impeaching
Mr. Akayev." Others think Bakiyev energetically set out to acquire Akayev's
resignation, to resolve the constitutional situation before the new presidential
While Akayev remains the subject of parliamentary debate, Kulov stands at the
centre of the judicial branch's attention. The country's Supreme Court has
reviewed the two criminal convictions against Kulov that resulted in his jailing
in 2001. Kulov -- a former top Akayev lieutenant-turned-arch-foe -- insists that
the abuse-of-power charges against him were politically motivated. The high
court has appeared inclined to side with Kulov, having already dismissed one of
the convictions against him. The hearing on the possible reversal of the second
charge is scheduled to resume April 11. Overturning the convictions would clear
the way for Kulov's presidential bid.
When the election will be held is uncertain. The vote had been set for June 26,
according to a resolution adopted by Kyrgyzstan's former, bicameral legislature
adopted shortly after Akayev's ouster. The new unicameral legislature,
subsequently recognized as Kyrgyzstan's legitimate Parliament, repealed the
resolution on April 7. A new election date will be set only after parliament
resolves the lingering questions concerning Akayev.
While Kyrgyzstan's government remains inwardly focused, political and social
upheaval continues to sweep across the country. In connection with the March 24
events in Bishkek, governing structures in regions and towns across Kyrgyzstan
have become engulfed in turmoil, with new leaders, claiming a popular mandate,
striving to replace Akayev-era appointees in key positions of authority. The
process has gone on largely unchecked by any constitutional restraint, deepening
the dilemma about the legitimacy of Kyrgyzstan's new political order.
The situation is especially troublesome in southern Kyrgyz regions, where a
condition of "dual-power" exists in many areas of Jalal-Abad and Osh
provinces, the Kabar news agency reported. A Kabar report on April 8 said
Bakiyev has established two working groups to help sort out questions related to
local governing structures. However, the working group responsible for southern
Kyrgyzstan, headed by Bakiyev's chief of staff, Usen Sydykov, seems to have
helped fuel controversy in the region's largest city, Osh. Despite support from
a minority of members of the city council, Sydykov issued a decision appointing
a Bakiyev loyalist as interim mayor of Osh, Kabar said, citing a report in the
Zhani Muun newspaper.
Another disturbing trend concerns the spontaneous seizure of land. Squatters,
many of them reportedly from poor regions of southern Kyrgyzstan, have flooded
into Bishkek, occupying undeveloped plots of land, mainly on the outskirts of
the city. Some people have already started to build homes on land to which they
do not have clear title. Others have started re-selling land plots that they
have staked out, despite the lack of a deed. The unregulated occupation of land
could easily become a source of social tension in the capital, local experts
believe. Kabar quoted Bishkek's chief architect, Kanybek Narbayev, as saying the
rapid influx of squatters could lead to overcrowding in the capital.
Rather than try to bring order to the process, some political analysts wonder
whether Bakiyev, whose political base is in the South, is tacitly encouraging
southerners to move to Bishkek. They note that several southern-based political
organizations, such as the People's Hope movement and the March 24 Revolution
Committee, are reported to have participated in land seizures in and around
Hopes for democracy
A constitutional conference has already reached a broad consensus that the
all-powerful executive branch must be replaced by a system that creates the
checks and balances common in the West: an independent judiciary, a prime
minister accountable to the Parliament and a president with limited powers
serving a single five-year term.
"Because our revolution was done without leaders, we have a unique
opportunity to participate in the reform process and to change our corrupt
system," said Emil Umetaliev, chairman of the Congress of Business
Associations and part of the 104-member panel. "We want to replace it with
something with more accountability that can survive a bad president."
The conference is composed half of members from the three branches of government
and half of representatives from companies and nongovernmental organisations.
In an interview, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who is prime minister and acting president
until presidential elections are held July 10th, agreed. "We must have a
presidential-parliamentary system that will give more powers to the
parliament," he said.
Bakiyev, a former prime minister who is well regarded in the West, was propelled
into his post on March 24th in the Tulip Revolution - a wave of mostly peaceful
protests, triggered by fraud in parliamentary elections, that sent Askar Akayev,
who had become deeply unpopular after 15 years as president, fleeing to Moscow.
The revolution was prompted in part by repressive measures taken by Akayev after
similar uprisings overthrew unpopular leaders clinging to power through rigged
elections in Ukraine and Georgia.
In Kyrgyzstan, Akayev was reviled for eloquently denouncing corruption while
allegedly letting his family grow rich through bribes and forced takeovers and
providing little but promises to those plunged into poverty by the collapse of
the Soviet social net. The final straw, many said, was getting his son and
daughter elected to parliament, raising fears of a dynastic succession.
Since he replaced Akayev, Bakiyev has repeatedly chosen stability over risk. He
maintained the unpopular new unicameral parliament mandated by the Constitution
rather than provoke a constitutional crisis by reviving the old two-chamber
parliament; he went to great lengths to obtain a resignation from Akayev; and,
although he was already the front-runner in the approaching presidential vote,
he made a power-sharing deal with his main rival. Felix Kulov.
Whether Bakiyev is a true reformer or will simply substitute, as many put it in
Kyrgyzstan, a southern mafia for a northern one, is the subject of endless
debate in the pleasant cafés that line the leafy avenues of this city set
amongst snow-capped mountains.
Michael Mered, the International Monetary Fund representative in Kyrgyzstan, is
among the optimists. Of Bakiyev, he said: "I think he's sincere, not
corrupt, he has a social conscience and he understands economics."
But business associations report that while bribe demands evaporated in the
month after the removal of Akayev, they have returned in force since then.
Daniyar Usenov, the deputy prime minister for economics and a respected former
banker, is leading a commission investigating accusations that the Akayev family
turned the country's economy into a patchwork of monopolies under its control.
"It was a government plan: Everyone had a target, an amount they were
supposed to bring in every month," he said in an interview. As a result, he
said, an amount equal to the government budget was allegedly collected by
officials and pocketed by themselves, their bosses and the Akayev family.
That the new constitution will result in a more democratic system is being
described as a given, but whether the stifling corruption will be curbed will
depend on how the reform of government is carried out. Usenov said, "We
need to change the system," but so far no one is examining how to do it.
Bakiyev did not mention in his interview plans to make structural changes,
saying only, "We must fight corruption regularly and insist that revenues
be collected." He also pledged that neither his six brothers nor his two
sons "will be involved in business."
While the Bakiyev-Kulov ticket if that is what finally transpires, is viewed as
unstoppable, several candidates running against Bakiyev complained of an
unreasonable short time given them to gather the necessary 50,000 signatures.
Urmatbek Baryktabasov, a millionaire businessman and the best-organised of the
11 candidates, said that Bakiyev had no program at all and that state television
would not allow him to explain his own very detailed program.
Edil Baisalov, president of the influential Coalition for Democracy, which
monitors elections, said "It's really important that this time the
elections be clean so people get a feeling of empowerment."
Kyrgyzstan and Russia examine CSTO expansion
Kyrgyzstan and Russia are considering the possibility of enhancing the
presence of member countries in the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO)
in southern Kyrgyzstan, head of the state Duma Committee for Compatriot Affairs,
Andrei Kokoshin, told Interfax News Agency reported on May 19th after
negotiations with Kyrgyz Acting President, Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Kokoshin said
Kyrgyzstan has made suggestions and possible enhancement of the presence of
Russia and other CSTO member countries in southern Kyrgyzstan is being
considered. "It is being considered. "It is not a matter of purely
military presence, but of larger capacities for fighting terrorism on the basis
of CSTO international legal documents," he said.
It does not go unnoticed that "Southern Kyrgyzstan" is the Ferghana
Valley shared with two other nations, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan where an
incipient uprising was recently crushed with great brutality. The CSTO could
establish a base for Russian troops in the Ferghana Valley, no doubt under the
guise of anti-Islamic terrorism. It is a development to be closely watched for
its capacity to stifle the stirrings of nascent democracy there.
Government strives to boost tourism in Kyrgyzstan
The events at the end of March, which resulted in a change of leadership of the
country, triggered off reasoned concern of executives of local resorts and
tourist operators that are interested in further development of tourism in
Kyrgyzstan, Interfax News Agency reported recently.
The Kyrgyz government intends to realise a turnaround programme to provide safe
tourism in the country and aimed at averting a recession in the tourist
The government of Kyrgyzstan jointly with the state committee for tourism, sport
and youth policy are to take measures to preserve the image of its tourist
industry. Current decisions of the Kyrgyz side are targeted at creation of
comfortable conditions for tourists.
All resort entities will have their own security services. The other innovation
is a removal of all traffic police points en route Bishkek-Cholpon-ata.
The majority of vacationers are from Kazakstan. International tourist
exhibition-fair "Issyk-Kul 2005" expected to start in Cholpon-ata, is
to demonstrate tourism potential of Kyrgyzstan's neighbour and contribute to
attracting investments for tourism and recreation development.