Books on Kyrgyzstan
Update No: 293 - (16/05/05)
Kyrgyzstan faces a presidential election on July 10th. A deal
has been struck that will almost assuredly decide the outcome.
This comes after a massive revolution earlier this year, which saw their former
president, Askar Akayev, shooed out, after dubious parliamentary elections.
The Democratic Movement's recent congress decided that they would separate from
the National Movement led by Prime Minister and acting president Kurmanbek
Bakiyev. The Kyrgyz Democratic Movement has nominated its leader Zhypar
Zheksheyev for president.
But Bakiyev is the key figure. He has done a deal with Ar-Namys Party leader
Felix Kulov (a former mayor of Bishkek and former vice-president, sprung from
jail by the populus in the course of the revolution), who has agreed to be his
prime minister. This is likely to prove an unbeatable combination in the
Eight people aspire for presidential position
Officially, there are still eight candidates in contention. Bakiyev himself,
Prof. Zhenishbek Nazarliyev, Social Democratic Party leader and head of the
Forum Company, Almazbek Atambayev, politician Kubanychbek Apas, businessman
Nurbek Turdukulov, former emergency situations minister Temirbek Akmataliyev and
parliamentarian Bayaman Erkinbayev have announced their wish to run for
My Country Party leader Dzhoomart Otorbayev may announce his presidential
ambitions at the party congress on May 21st.
The Kyrgyz Central Elections and Referenda Commission has so far registered only
one presidential candidate, Prof. Nazarliyev. Nazarliyev, who is a
self-nominated candidate, was born in Kyrgyzstan on May 8th, 1961. He is the
founder of the Kyrgyz narcology and psychotherapy schools, President of the Mind
without Drugs League, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Natural
Sciences, and member of the International Council on Alcohol and Addictions
Board of Directors.
Retrospective on a revolution
The election is being held in the wake of a revolution in March-April after
obviously rigged parliamentary elections sparked off popular protests that
spread from the south to the capital, leading to President Askar Akayev's flight
to Russia. But why did it happen; and can something similar occur elsewhere in
Kyrgyzstan is very much the odd one out in Central Asia. It was the only 'stan'
not to have had its former communist boss in charge. Akayev, a physicist, was a
compromise choice when he was chosen as their presidential candidate by the
former Soviet leadership in 1991 on independence. He lacked the power base of
the leaders in the other 'stans.'
He became much less draconian than the others, opening up to the West in a big
way, even allowing Freedom House and the Soros Foundation to become established.
The Open Society Institute made Bishkek its headquarters for their Central Asian
activities. The US embassy was active in developing civil society, to put it
diplomatically. When the electricity supply of the Freedom House institute,
which was printing the country's only independent newspaper, inexplicably broke
down before the elections, the embassy rushed in generators and restored supply.
The opposition could organise as in no other 'stan.'
The ingredients of an explosive mixture were coming together. Akayev had already
begun to alienate the population by allowing free rein to his own family's
cupidity. His wife owned the largest shopping store in Bishkek, and his family
other major shops, to be main targets of looters in the revolution. The
president ceased to mingle with the people, seeing his country from his
limousine. Official corruption mounted.
A key fact was that the police, solidly behind the regime in the rest of the
region, are miserably paid ($25 per month) and grew alienated from the powers
that-be, well aware of their nepotistic, corrupt ways.
With a remote president out of touch even with his own security forces, a venal
entourage, a disaffected population and a polity much less repressive than
elsewhere, the recipe for revolution was being created. The fraudulent
elections, in which virtually all those elected to parliament were family or
cronies of Aliyev, duly precipitated it in mid-March.
The answer to that will have to await the new elections. Acting president
Bakiyev looks to be the front-runner here.
If one looks at the opposition ranks and possible long-term candidates for
Akayev's seat, one can see that all of them at one time or another time worked
for him. For example, Bakiyev was Akayev's prime minister, he had also been
approved by the Kremlin only weeks before the uprising as an acceptable
successor to Akayev after his anticipated retirement in the autumn. Felix Kulov
was vice-president, security minister and the mayor of Bishkek, and Roza
Otunbayeva was foreign minister. This is indicative that we can assume only a
small shift from the general policies that have been pursued so far.
It seems likely that the opposition leaders will share power for some time
together. We see that the new government is composed of a coalition of
opposition leaders. It remains to be seen whether this cabinet can push through
structural reforms to establish a grass-roots democracy and protect the primacy
of law, or if they wish to do so. This will largely depend on whether they
believe that they can operate successfully independent of Moscow.
The revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine clearly had an impact on Kyrgyzstan's
political opposition. The new acting Kyrgyz foreign minister, Roza Otunbaeva,
had been in Georgia working for the UN when the revolution took place there in
2003 and kept in contact with her former associates. Other parliamentarians had
recently been to Ukraine to meet with President Viktor Yushchenko's supporters
and to examine how they had succeeded in overcoming the regime and thrusting
their candidate into office.
Bakiyev needs a good relationship with the man now in charge in the key interior
ministry, Kulov, and to boost the pay of the police. It does not do to be out of
touch with one's security forces, as Aliyev found to his cost!
FOREIGN ECONOMIC RELATIONS
Gul says Turkish businesses will remain in Kyrgyzstan
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul told Kyrgyz
Acting Deputy prime Minister, Daniyar Usenov, who is responsible for economy, in
Bishkek on May 5th to ensure economic stability in the country, New Europe
During the meeting, both leaders discussed how foreign investments could be
drawn to Kyrgyzstan. Gul stressed that economic reforms are necessary and also
underlined the importance of transparency and rule of law in the new period.
While commenting that Kyrgyzstan should focus on tourism, Gul told Interfax that
this country had the potential to become "Switzerland of Asia."
Problems that Turkish businessmen face were also discussed during the meeting. A
commission was formed in Kyrgyzstan for compensation of Turkish businessmen who
suffered losses due to last March's protests. Kyrgyzstan is expecting a new wave
of business from Turkey in spite of the damage many investors suffered during
the March revolution. Two major Turkish stores in Bishkek were looted and set on
fire during the revolution, which toppled president Askar Akayev following
disputed parliamentary elections. The Turkish Istikbal chain of furniture stores
also faced severe damages.
In spite of the damages, Turkish investors are ready to undertake more work in
the former Soviet Republic. However, Turkish business interests proved more
difficult to protect, and negotiations are now underway for compensation.
Turkish investors are concerned about the level of damage done to their stores
and premises during the revolution, and so far have not been properly
recompensed. Gul said the damage caused on March 24 and 25th had not deterred
Turkish investors, describing the anger of the looters as
Gul and Usenov also debated signature of a new protocol between Turkish
International Cooperation Agency (TICA) and Kyrgyzstan and possible
contributions of TICA to the country. Gul also met his Kyrgyz counterpart, Roza
Otunbayeva Gul, Acting President, Kurmanbek Bakiyev and parliamentary speaker
Omurbek Tekebayev. During the talks with Gul, Otunbayeva said Turkish Airlines
(THY) was the first airline opening Kyrgyzstan to the world and he also told THY
to increase the number of its flights to his country. Otunbayeva and Gul also
discussed trade, economic, cultural and humanitarian cooperation, the fight
against terrorism and other issues.
Bishkek and Ankara have a long history of cooperation. Turkey has provided more
than three million Euro in military aid since Kyrgyzstan gained its independence
in 1991. Gul expressed his country's readiness to offer all-round assistance to
Kyrgyzstan. He said, "Turkey will always be close to Kyrgyzstan, rendering
all possible assistance and support in various spheres."
Last month in line with a bilateral agreement, Turkey gave a further two million
Euro for the purchase of technical resources, clothing and medicines for the
Kyrgyz armed forces. Official statistics show that there has been a 23% increase
in investment from non-former Soviet countries since 2003, amounting to 146m
Canada is the main investor, accounting for just over 25% of the total, with
Turkey providing 13%. In the wake of the revolution, staff at Turkish-owned
companies are repairing damage to their properties or preparing to do so, with
one, Lion, forging ahead with expansion plans. "The Lion chain of stores
plans to open a new branch soon, and intends to continue its business here no
matter what," said staff manager Olesya Dubova.