Books on Kyrgyzstan
Update No: 304 - (28/04/06)
Moscow and Washington apprehensive about Bishkek
Kyrgyzstan has been the scene of geopolitical competition between Russia and the
United States in recent years. However, there are indications that both states
are alarmed by the country's burgeoning disorder, which several events in April
highlighted. US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Richard
Boucher, urged President Bakiyev to implement stabilization measures during
talks held on April 11th in Bishkek. Meanwhile, in an interview with the Regnum
news agency, Russian political analyst Arkady Dubnov indicated that Moscow
policymakers are chagrined with Bakiyev's conduct, referring to a notorious
crook being allowed to stand for parliament.
"The parliamentary victory of Ryspek Akmatbayev was a surprise for the
Russian leadership," Dubnov stated. The Kremlin had made its concerns about
stability known, and right up until the by-election "Moscow assumed that
the Kyrgyz leadership would not allow such a development Akmatbayev's win."
"The threat of a new wave of instability in Kyrgyzstan is not in the
interest of either of the two world powers [The United States and Russia],"
Assassination attempt generates alarm
Concerns about Kyrgyzstan's political stability are rising following an
assassination attempt on April 12th against a prominent civil society figure.
The attack against Edil Baisalov -- head of the Coalition for Democracy and
Civil Society, a Bishkek non-governmental organization - occurred as he was
leaving the organization's offices in central Bishkek at approximately 6 pm
local time. He suffered a wound in the back of his head, but doctors could not
immediately determine whether the wound was caused by a bullet, or by a blunt
object. The lone assailant, who was not immediately apprehended, was described
as a "young man of Kyrgyz nationality," the AKIpress news agency
Witnesses to the incident reported hearing a bang, as if a pistol, possibly
equipped with a silencer, had gone off. Baisalov, who only briefly lost
consciousness, was quoted by AKIpress as saying, "It was a clap. There is a
hole [in my head], but I am alive." After suffering the wound, Baisalov's
driver hustled him into his car and sped off to a nearby hospital. Doctor's now
believe Baisalov's life is not threatened, but say the wound will require
Kyrgyzstan has experienced frequent spasms of political violence since the Tulip
revolution swept Askar Akayev's old regime from power in March 2005. Prime
Minister Feliks Kulov, who visited Baisalov in the hospital, characterized the
assassination attempt as politically motivated.
In early April, Baisalov led an NGO effort to organize mass demonstrations,
calling on President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's administration to vigorously pursue an
anti-crime and corruption agenda. Baisalov had also been vocal in his opposition
to a Supreme Court decision that enabled reputed organized crime boss Ryspek
Akmatbayev to contest a parliamentary by-election. Akmatbayev subsequently won
the parliamentary race. But the head of the country's Central Election
Commission (CEC), Tuigunaly Abdraimov, announced on April 11th that Akmatbayev
would be temporarily barred from taking his seat, pending judicial review of a
January murder case in which the MP-elect was a defendant. In the initial trial,
Akmatbayev was acquitted of the murder charge against him, but officials are now
probing whether any improprieties occurred during the proceedings.
The assassination attempt sent shock waves through Kyrgyzstan's NGO sector.
Medet Tiulegenov, the executive director of the Soros Foundation - Kyrgyzstan,
suggested that the incident could fuel criticism of the Bakiyev administration
for not taking a tough stand against rampant crime and corruption. "Today's
attempt to take the life of a civil society leader signifies yet another
manifestation of the deteriorating governance of Kyrgyzstan," Tiulegenov
said. Bakiyev, Kulov and members of parliament have been locked in a three-way
power struggle in recent months. There is widespread suspicion in Bishkek that
the Bakiyev administration engineered the court decision that reversed the CEC-imposed
prohibition and allowed Akmatbayev to run.
Akmatbayev, via an attorney, denied involvement in the assassination attempt
against Baisalov. Kulov, meanwhile, told reporters that the incident underscores
the need for a comprehensive anti-crime offensive, hinting that only such
measures could prevent Kyrgyzstan's descent into lawlessness. The president must
give the government the power to "undertake measures to restore
law-and-order in the country. Otherwise the consequences for the nation's future
are already known," Kulov told reporters.
The following article throws further light on the whole subject:-
Crime saga in Kyrgyzstan continues
Vremya Novostei, Arkady Dubnov
Known throughout Kyrgyzstan and abroad now, kingpin Ryspek Akmatbayev won the
election into the national parliament on April 9th. He is not going to receive
the coveted mandate all the same, not in the near future at least. Central
Election Commission Chairman Tuigunaly Abdraimov said at a special press
conference that registration of Akmatbayev as deputy of the Zhogorku Kenesh
[national parliament] had been suspended. Abdraimov said that consultations with
lawyers and authors of the Kyrgyz Election Code were under way.
Colloquially known as simply Ryspek, Akmatbayev is a defendant in a triple
murder. Registered as a candidate for deputy, he was granted but provisional
immunity which expired on April 10th when the Central Election Commission made
the outcome of the election known. From now on, Akmatbayev may become a lawmaker
only when the Bishkek Municipal Court wrapped up the case (Clause 4 of Article
56 of the Election Code). Or even when the appeal against the verdict, were it
ever made, was contemplated.
In other words, Kyrgyz acting legislation recognizes the right of a person under
criminal investigation to be elected into the parliament. It merely denies him
the right to become lawmaker pending the final decision of the court. These
legislative innovations enabled the leadership of the country blamed for
permitting the powers-that-be and the underworld to coalesce to save face and
extricate itself from a truly tight corner.
Even that is not all. Abdraimov said he had had a call from Akmatbayev on April
10th and that the caller had said he was "dead meat." According to
Abdraimov, the kingpin bent on becoming a politician also threatened to have
Prime Minister Felix Kulov and two senior officials of the Interior Ministry
assassinated. These threats were made "in the presence of many" at the
rally in the town of Balykchi (Akmatbayev's constituency) in late March. Chief
of the Balykchi police force and two officers of the Organized Crime Directorate
were assaulted and battered at the rally, Abdraimov said.
"Akmatbayev has gone too far," Abdraimov said. "Why our leaders
permit him to get away with it is beyond my comprehension. I even hear that
Akmatbayev boasts of having what he terms as "killer materials" that
will smear our leaders and their children. Time will show if there is anything
to these boasts." All of Kyrgyzstan knows in the meantime that Akmatbayev
is blackmailing the president and his son with the materials he allegedly has.
US Undersecretary of State Richard Bowcher has been on a recent visit to Bishkek.
The American diplomat met with the president, prime minister, and interior
minister. Local NTC channel quoted Bowcher as saying that the underworld's
aspirations for positions of power in Kyrgyzstan cannot help worrying the United
States but "this is a problem the Kyrgyz political leadership itself should
solve." Bowcher ascribed the existing state of affairs to the lack of an
independent judicial system and questioned transparency of the procedures that
permitted a man of Akmatbayev's repute to run for parliament in the first place.
President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's official visit to the United States is scheduled
for late May. To retain the image of an adequate regime, Bishkek will have to
solve the problem by then. Bakiyev intends to visit Moscow even before the trip
across the ocean, and Moscow is not exactly happy with the state of affairs in
One billion Euro in foreign debt to be written off
Kyrgyzstan expects one billion Euro in foreign debt to be written off as part of
the HIPC initiative, acting Kyrgyz National Bank Chairman, Maksat Ishenbayev,
Interfax News Agency reported.
The Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC), an International Monetary
Fund and World Bank programme, envisions debt being written off for the world's
poorest countries with high levels of debt. Kyrgyz Prime Minister, Felix Kulov,
recently signed a decree on Kyrgyzstan's readiness to join the HIPC initiative,
Ishenbayev said. By participating in the programme, Kyrgyzstan will be obliged
to meet a number of conditions, including reforms in its energy and mining
branches, he said. In addition, the country must carry out reforms in the social
sector and government management to increase transparency and improve the
business climate to develop the private sector.
Economic opportunities programme launched
On March 14th, Mercy Corps inaugurated the ceremony for a three-year economic
opportunities project, the Collaborative Development Initiative (CDI). This
event marks the first of three such opening events for CDI in Jalalabad
province. In addition to Jalalabad/Susak Cluster, the project will also be
cooperating with clusters in Kochkor-Ata and the Kara Suu area of Aksy District.
These opening events were held on March 16th and 28th. During the first week of
March, CDI opening events took place in three other clusters in Kadamjai and
Kyzyl Kia (Batken) and Nookat (Osh).
The goal of the CDI project is to promote economic development through technical
assistance and investment in market sub-sectors that stimulate new jobs, new
businesses, and opportunities for business improvement, Interfax News Agency
The United States Agency is financing the project for International Development
and is part of the United States overseas foreign assistance programme. At the
opening ceremony, the US ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, Marie Yovanovitch, and the
governor of Jalalabad oblast addressed the guests that comprised public and
private sector representatives from participating communities in Jalalabad City
and Susak District. The mayor of Jalalabad and the Akim of Susak District also
addressed the invited guests. Leaders from government, civil society, private
sector, social institutions and media were acquainted with the programme and
their respective roles in its implementation.
Mercy Corps, with its project partners Kompanion Financial Services, Urban
Institute and Internews, will implement the CDI project in seven clusters,
including a total of 46 urban and rural communities in three oblasts.
CDI communities were selected on the basis of multiple field assessments and
performance reviews that considered the degree of citizen and local government
interest and support, inter-community cooperation for economic and social
development, and the quality of applications submitted by former communities of
the USAID-funded Community Action Investment Programme (CAIP) or Kosh Araket,
also a three-year programme that ended in mid-2005. CDI is based on the
experiences of CAIP but the new project does not focus on infrastructure
Besides, economic development, CDI will also promote youth leadership,
vocational and life skills development, improved quality of information
dissemination in communities through new broadcasting and media and improved
good governance practices and communication between citizens and local
Kyrgyzstan to build railway link to China
Kyrgyzstan has a big stake in launching the construction of a railway link to
China. "But before the construction is launched, a decision must be made in
principle, a feasibility study drawn up and funding provided," Kyrgyz Prime
Minister, Felix Kulov, the Cabinet said on March 20, Interfax News Agency
"A group of investors are prepared to put money into the project if
Kyrgyzstan and China come to terms on when the construction will begin,"
Kulov said. "Prior to drawing up a feasibility study, talks must be held
with the World Bank to secure a soft credit. And then ways of repaying the
credit must be discussed with investors," Kulov said. "The
construction of a 268-kilometres railway is estimated at some 1.3 billion Euro
and is to last for six years," the news agency quoted Transport and
Communications Minister Nurlan Sulaimanov as saying. "To get started, an
agreement must be signed with China and a route negotiated. The railway could
run through southern Kyrgyzstan and further to Uzbekistan, or through
Kyrgyzstan's northern part towards Kazakstan," Sulaimanov said.