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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: 319 - (26/07/07)

The sour taste of failure
In the 1990s Kyrgyzstan was the darling among the Central Asian states as far as the West was concerned. Margaret Thatcher gave the blessing to President Askar Akayev as a free market reformer and libertarian. Western banks extended vast amounts of credit. 

Now they are wanting it back, despite very little progress in the interim. For very little benefited the population as a whole, although a tiny elite did very well, thank you, and promptly departed. GDP growth crawled along at a snail's pace, while millions of hard currency went, qua Charles Kingsley, 'Westward Ho.' 

The Kyrgyz became so frustrated with the inept Akayev regime that they ousted him and his corrupt family in 'the Tulip Revolution' in 2005, which has itself produced little in the way of positive results so far. There were widespread protests in April that the new government faced down. But unrest and discontent remain not far from the surface. 

Nazarbayev plays the elder statesman in Bishkek
This disturbs its neighbours. Kazakhstan is Kyrgyzstan's most important neighbour and foreign partner. Its president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, is striving to turn his energy-rich Central Asian nation into a force for regional stability. On a recent visit to Kyrgyzstan, Nazarbayev dangled the prospect of increased investments in return for a commitment from Kyrgyz leaders to forswear political infighting. 

Nazarbayev's motives aren't purely altruistic. They are rooted in pragmatism: he is interested in taking preventative action that defends Kazakstan's economic interests. Perhaps the greatest threat today to the continuation of Kazakstan's economic boom is instability in neighbouring countries, a trend that could potentially fuel radical Islam, produce a refugee crisis and/or cause disruptions to existing export routes. 

During his April 25th-26th trip to Bishkek, Nazarbayev delivered a clear message to his Kyrgyz counterpart, Kurmanbek Bakiyev: Focus on developing Kyrgyzstan's economy, and the severity of political problems will begin to fade.

"We propose Kazakstan's experience of development and modernization, which only comes in conditions of stability. Investment does not come to an unstable country," Nazarbayev said in remarks broadcast by Kazakstan's state-owned Khabar TV. Kazakhstan is "ready to invest billions of dollars in Kyrgyzstan's economy," provided that Kyrgyzstan demonstrates a greater degree of political maturity, Nazarbayev added. 

The failure of Bakiyev's administration to heed his warning could have dire consequences, Nazarbayev said. Speaking in an interview given jointly to Khabar and Kyrgyz state TV, Nazarbayev adopted an unprecedented stance of bluntly commenting on Kyrgyz domestic political matters. "First, all [the factions] must sit at the negotiating table, second, one must respect authorities who have been elected by the people, and these authorities must use their power to establish order in the country in a democratic and lawful way," Nazarbayev said. 

"If neither the first nor the second solutions are accepted, Kyrgyzstan will be left with the alternative of being the same as Afghanistan was in its time: disturbances, anarchy -- everybody will do whatever he wants to -- extremism, terrorism, drugs trafficking -- all this. In this case, Kyrgyzstan will turn into an enclave of instability," Nazarbayev continued. "Does anybody really want this? I would rather not wish this on the Kyrgyz people." 

As a means of encouragement, Nazarbayev offered US$100 million dollars in humanitarian aid for Kyrgyzstan, as well as wheat and fuel supplies. Kazakhstan is already Kyrgyzstan's largest investor, with US$300 million invested in the economy, accounting for 30 percent of total investment. With trade between the two countries standing at US$400 million in 2006, there appears to be room for growth in economic cooperation, Nazarbayev said, pointing to Kazakstan's business interests in Georgia as an example.

To attract further Kazakstani investment, Kyrgyzstan will not only have to forge a more stable political environment, the president and parliament in Bishkek will need to cooperate on the adoption of legislation that enhances investor rights. Amid their power struggle, Bakiyev and his parliamentary foes largely ignored policymaking and implementation responsibilities. In a report, titled Asian Development Outlook 2007, the Asian Development Bank pointed to political instability as a factor that "distracted [Kyrgyz] authorities and hampered structural reforms, including the passage of key economic legislation." 

In response, Bakiyev told Nazarbayev that trade and economic cooperation with Kazakhstan was one of his administration's top foreign policy priorities. Bakiyev acknowledged existing deficiencies in Kyrgyzstan's investment framework and expressed a commitment to closing legal gaps that hamper the country's ability to attract foreign capital. In addition, the two presidents signed a joint statement calling for an expansion of political and economic relations. It specifically called for closer cooperation in combating terrorism, organized crime, drug-trafficking and illegal migration. It also contained a provision for joint action in "preventing threats to each other's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity." 

Nazarbayev and Bakiyev agreed to set up an interstate council for discussing bilateral issues. Some regional experts saw the council's creation as a step toward the establishment of a Central Asian union, a concept that Nazarbayev has championed of late. 

There was one concrete outcome of Nazarbayev's visit -- the establishment of a joint venture involving state-owned companies from Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. The new venture is expected to finish construction on two hydroelectric power stations located on the Naryn River -- Kambarata 1 and Kambarata 2 - the Kazakstan Today news agency reported. 

Analysts in Kazakstan generally lauded Nazarbayev's trip as a diplomatic victory for Kazakstan and for the president personally, burnishing his image as a power broker, and possibly boosting the country's bid to chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2009. "I think that one of the priority goals of the visit was to show the leadership capacity of Kazakhstan in Central Asia; to send a message to the international community that Kazakhstan is willing to contribute its resources to [promote the] political and economic stability of its neighbours," Anuar Ayazbekov, a research fellow at the Institute for Economic Strategies-Central Asia, told EurasiaNet. 

Ayazbekov and others noted that Nazarbayev, while proffering possible solutions to Kyrgyzstan's political woes, was careful not to get too deeply involved in the internal affairs of a neighbouring state. "Even if the visit was planned to show support for Bakiyev, it was done in a very careful manner," Ayazbekov said. "Kazakstan's foreign office certainly realizes that extending support only to one political group in Kyrgyzstan can entail long-term consequences in the event of change of the regime." 

Nazarbayev had originally planned to make an address in Kyrgyzstan's parliament, which contains many of Bakiyev's strongest opponents, but he ended up not appearing before MPs. "It clearly was a wise decision, since during [such a] meeting a lot of politically sensitive issues that concern the elites of both Kazakstan and Kyrgyzstan could have been raised by radical MPs," Ayazbekov said. 

Bakiyev, ultimately, might have benefited more from the visit than Nazarbayev, suggested Dosym Satpayev, the director of the Assessment Risks Group consultancy in Almaty. "Bakiyev needed this more politically. He wants to show he is in control of the situation in the country," Satpayev said. 

The Kyrgyz turn against the West
A small state with little to offer except a strategic location, Kyrgyzstan's foreign policy has blended a pro-Russian orientation with nods to the West and, increasingly, to China. Yet a series of controversial developments involving Western interests, and an anticipated diplomatic offensive by Moscow and Beijing this summer threaten to disrupt that shaky equilibrium. 

Although the protests that have dominated Kyrgyz politics for the past year are mainly a domestic affair, anti-Western currents appear to have played a role in other recent disputes. These include the Kyrgyz rejection of a major international debt-relief programme, demonstrations surrounding the Canadian-controlled Kumtor gold mine, and problems related to the American airbase supporting coalition operations in Afghanistan.

Local analysts acknowledge a subtle shift in public opinion against the West and particularly the United States, but say that the change is due largely to American actions on the world stage and other external factors. Western policies toward Kyrgyzstan itself have played a secondary role, they say. 

"Like many former Soviet countries, Kyrgyzstan was never notable for its pro-Western attitude at the popular level," said Emil Juraev, Deputy Director of the OSCE Academy. That ambivalence is turning negative, he said, "as part of the general, international [growth in] anti-Western and anti-American feeling." 

Juraev said the Kyrgyz reaction to the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC), in which lenders like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund agree to ease debt burdens in exchange for a commitment to implement reforms, was a reflection of worldwide sentiment. In the face of fierce protests by groups who saw HIPC as a loss of national sovereignty, Kyrgyzstan abandoned the program in February. 

"Some people, aware of the global discussions and global discourse [that criticizes international financial institutions], place themselves in the same picture of being somehow dominated, misused, manipulated by the West, and in particular by the United States," Juraev said. 

Orozbek Moldaliyev, Director of Bishkek's Research Centre on Politics, Religion, and Security, attributed the shift to the US-led war in Iraq. "Anti-American sentiment practically did not exist prior to Iraq. On the contrary, there was great sympathy for America," he said. "But after the Iraq events such feelings appeared among part of the population, especially religious people." 

Both analysts said that the dominance of Russian media in the country helped create an unflattering image of the United States. "The Russian media plays a major role in the formation of political consciousness" in Kyrgyzstan, said Moldaliyev. "Whenever Russian-American relations change [for the worse], they use any grounds they can to incite anti-American feelings among the population." 

Several recent controversies surrounding the American airbase, especially the shooting death last December of a local driver by a US airman guarding the base, have proven particularly inflammatory. The incident prompted calls for the base's closure and the cancellation of the airman's immunity, enshrined by the 2001 US-Kyrgyz agreement establishing the facility. Reports in May that the soldier had returned home to face disciplinary hearings revived the debate. 

A number of other irritants in US-Kyrgyz relations can be traced back to the Manas airbase, including car accidents involving American personnel and a runway near-miss involving a US tanker and a Kyrgyz passenger jet last September. An anonymously sourced report May 2 from the Russian agency Interfax suggested that Manas could be housing nuclear weapons for a strike against Iran. American and Kyrgyz officials have called the Iran speculation groundless. 

Nevertheless, Kyrgyz Parliament Speaker Marat Sultanov vowed that Bishkek would give serious consideration to closing the base, if it were used in connection with any military action against Iran, the official Russian news agency RIA-Novosti reported on May 21st. 

Meanwhile, the United States reportedly offered the widow of the shot truck driver a "final" settlement for her suffering, which the widow said amounted to US$55,000. She added that the offer will not stop her from filing a wrongful death suit, in which she will seek US$1 million in damages. In addition, activists have launched a movement that seeks the closure of the base, according to the AKIpress news agency. 

Juraev said many Kyrgyz citizens connect the dots between the unsubstantiated reports about Iran attack plans and their vision of the United States as an overbearing superpower. "Whenever something bad or some unfortunate event happens in Bishkek, for example, it's easy to conclude that this is an example of what we know of the United States generally," he said. 

The massive Kumtor gold mine has also proven a sensitive issue between Kyrgyzstan and its Western investors, sparking protests and roadblocks by area residents as recently as early May. In this case, much of the local dissent appears directed against the national government, for handing over part of the Kyrgyz stake to the Canadian owners and improperly distributing compensation for a disastrous cyanide spill in 1998. 

"I don't think the Western factor is playing that much of a role" in prompting the protests, Juraev said. But, he added, the "raw deal" that the mine's investors gave to Kyrgyzstan, plus subsequent calls by Kyrgyz politicians to nationalize the mine, have helped create a less welcoming atmosphere for international corporations. 

So far, evidence of a policy shift against US and Western interests in Kyrgyzstan is circumstantial. Observers say that may change in August, when the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) holds its annual summit in Bishkek. Russia and China dominate the security-oriented group, which also includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. 

In a May 2nd commentary for the Kyrgyz edition of the newspaper Argumenty i Fakti, analyst Raisa Polyakova said Moscow and Beijing would likely press for an end to the US military presence in the country. The SCO summit in Astana in 2005 ended with a declaration calling for "final timeframes for the temporary use" of Central Asian bases by coalition forces. "Of course, Russia and China want the United States to leave Kyrgyzstan," Moldaliyev said, "but in return, they do not offer anything." If at the summit they were to propose a concrete economic package, he said, the Kyrgyz "could waver." 

Juraev said the Kyrgyz side preferred to downplay the subject, and was crafting an agenda with an "economic and humanitarian" focus. "Obviously it won't be possible to bypass the political, security issues but I think they'll try to somehow not make them the most important issues of discussion," he said. 

However, Juraev said, Kyrgyzstan's foreign policy direction may ultimately be decided in capitals other than Bishkek. "Kyrgyzstan is not the kind of country that gets to choose how to behave" in foreign affairs, he said. "Kyrgyzstan can only somehow manoeuvre within a very limited space." 

MOSCOW GIVES COOL RECEPTION TO KYRGYZ-RUSSIAN CONFEDERATION PROPOSAL 
Russian officials are responding cautiously to a proposal made by a Kyrgyz opposition leader that Russia and Kyrgyzstan enter into a confederation. 

Former Kyrgyz Prime Minister Feliks Kulov - who is currently wandering in Kyrgyzstan's political wilderness following his ouster last January - is trying to repackage himself as a friend of Moscow, apparently aiming to revive his political fortunes with Russia's assistance. Kulov accordingly launched a wild trial balloon in late May, calling for Kyrgyzstan's unification with Russia. 

In comments published June 1 in the opposition Agym newspaper, Kulov argued that a confederation with Russia would offer Kyrgyzstan a way out of two persistent problems - friction between the northern and southern portions of the country, and economic malaise. Kulov warned that Kyrgyzstan faced the possibility of a sectional break-up if the country continues on its present political course. "Because the division within the country is so large, we should take measures to set up a union... and get rid of the split," he added. 

When asked if he expected Moscow to be receptive to his idea, Kulov responded positively. "Russia would not refuse to unite, if [the Kyrgyz] people vote for a union in a referendum," Kulov reasoned. Later, he insisted that such a referendum, if held, would support unification, even though he produced no evidence to buttress his claim. At the same time, Kulov offered a caveat that a would-be union with Russia could function only on the condition that Kyrgyzstan retain its national sovereignty and statehood. 

In Moscow, experts and politicians alike are governed by a logic that is starkly different from Kulov's. Following years of futile attempts to forge a viable bond between Russia and Belarus, officials in Moscow seem to view Kulov's initiative as detached from reality, and potentially destabilizing for the Kremlin's relations with Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's administration. 

Russian experts and politicians have reacted to the confederation proposal with muted scepticism. For example, Vladimir Vasiliyev, who heads the Russian parliament's Committee of Security, noted on June 4 that a parliamentary delegation was planning a visit to Kyrgyzstan this summer, adding that any comment before the delegation's departure would be inappropriate. 

Some Russian political analysts have pointedly stated that confederation with Bishkek would be more of a burden than a boon to the conduct of Russian foreign policy. Russia seeks strong strategic partners in Central Asia, yet Kyrgyzstan is a weak ally, plagued by internal political feuds and economic stagnation, Russian political analyst Sergei Markov said June 4. Rather than forging confederation with Bishkek, Russia would be better served by strengthening ties with Kazakstan and Uzbekistan, Markov added. 

However, Markov conceded that Kyrgyzstan's associated membership in the Russian Federation could bring Moscow certain strategic benefits. Kyrgyzstan is home to a US military base in Central Asia, and if Moscow made a decision based on geopolitics, rather than economics, to confederate with Bishkek, the presence of a US base outside the Kyrgyz capital would likely become untenable.

Despite this attractive prospect from Moscow's perspective, the Kremlin seems to deem the costs of confederation to be prohibitive at this time. 

Even without a confederation, US officials are encountering growing anti-American sentiment in Kyrgyzstan. In May, disgruntled Kyrgyz MPs suggested that parliament might consider annulling the lease. 

On June 5, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates travelled Bishkek for talks with Kyrgyz leaders, but the visit did not produce any tangible improvement in bilateral relations. 

Kyrgyz officials are generally dismissive of Kulov's confederation idea. Marat Sultanov, the Kyrgyz parliament speaker, has been the most outspoken opponent of the plan. "For Kyrgyzstan, it is better to create unions, like the European Union, instead of confederations," he said at a June 4 news conference. "If anyone wants to live in Russia, they are welcome to do so. We already have the institution of dual citizenship," Sultanov added. 

Though reluctant to confederate, Sultanov nevertheless is a booster of stronger bilateral Kyrgyz-Russian ties. The speaker visited Moscow for talks in May, where he described Russia as Kyrgyzstan's major partner. 

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No-one is escaping the impact of climate change - Kyrgyzstan no less than any other. It has one advantage, however. Along with Tajikistan, it is an up-river country. They are the poorest of the Central Asian states. But one day their down-river neighbours may envy them their lofty status, with its prime claim on fresh water and its cooling upland breezes.

CENTRAL ASIA FACES GRIM ENVIRONMENTAL FUTURE -- UN REPORT 
Mudslides produced by heavy rain in the spring wrought havoc in southern Kyrgyzstan, damaging hundreds of homes and killing livestock. Such natural disasters could well become more severe and more frequent in Central Asia over the coming decades, according to a new United Nations report on climate change. 

The report, issued April 6th by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), paints a grim picture for Central Asian governments and policymakers. In the strongest warning yet issued about the influence of humans on the environment, the report says with "high confidence" that soon the region's mountain ranges will not be able to provide the water necessary to support current agricultural practices. 

"Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis" is a summary of over 1,000 pages of findings made by the IPCC. The report initially forecasts avalanches, increased runoff and earlier spring peak discharge from glaciers and floods due to unseasonable rains. But by the end of the 21st century, disappearing glaciers in the Tien Shan, Pamir and Hindu Kush mountain ranges will result in decreased river flows and severe water shortages. Temperatures may experience a dramatic increase, while crop yields are forecast to fall 30 percent by 2050. 

The April 6th summary is just one of a series of publications from the IPCC that have identified significant problems for water supplies in the area. "The IPCC's warnings about melting glaciers, floods and eventual water scarcity have been identified as one of the key vulnerabilities," said John Coequyt, an energy and global warming specialist for Greenpeace. "It's one of the report's most important findings. But few governments worldwide understand this, and I don't think any of the countries in Central Asia have taken it onboard."

While rising temperatures may provide short-term benefits for the region's lucrative cotton industry, the lack of ample irrigation may ultimately doom the cash crop. Mass unemployment looms in already unstable areas, especially in the Ferghana Valley, if Central Asia's cotton sector collapses. 

In Tajikistan, the cotton industry employs about 80 percent of the country's rural labour force and the crop is the country's second largest export. However, 75 per cent of Tajikistan's poorest citizens live in cotton growing areas, according to the World Bank. 

Elsewhere, cotton production employs up to 3 million Uzbeks and generates 24 per cent of the country's US$8.7 billion GDP, providing the Uzbek government with an annual income of over US$1 billion. These exports account for about 60 per cent of Uzbekistan's hard currency export earnings. 

To avoid economic and political disaster, experts say immediate water-sector and agricultural reforms are needed. Central Asia's geography, which compels states in the region to share water resources, dictates an international solution. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, hundreds of inter-governmental documents have been signed on water policy. Yet each agreement suffers from a fatal flaw -- none is legally binding. Thus, tension over water resources -- pitting upstream (Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) against downstream nations (Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakstan) -- continues to plague regional relations.

Fast action in some instances could be undertaken without inflicting major pain to national economies, experts contend. "Only for climate-change deniers could [the IPCC report] appear to be a worst-case scenario." said Peter Bloch, an agrarian reform expert who has worked on a variety of donor-funded programs in Uzbekistan. "[In Uzbekistan] there is a huge potential for water savings with relatively minor investments in equipment." 

The Uzbek government, however, is unlikely to take the steps necessary to achieve such savings. Agrarian discontent simmers in Uzbekistan, where government forces have clashed with farmers and local business owners. Meaningful reforms that encourage better resource management would, at the same time, give farmers greater control over their crops -- something that is not in the political elite's interests. 

The problem is such no state can solve it on its own. Yet, regional leaders have not demonstrated any desire to agree on a comprehensive regional framework to manage water resources. "Individual farmers will not have any incentive to be environmentally 'responsible' if their neighbours -- whatever their land ownership status -- are not 'responsible' as well," said Bloch. 

Environmental degradation and water scarcity have the potential to propel Central Asia into a downward spiral of conflict. "The thing about climate change is that it makes existing problems worse," said Coequyt. "The problems that Central Asia faces today are going to be exacerbated by climate change in the very near future." 

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KYRGYZSTAN: POLYGAMY ISSUE SPARKS DEBATE 
Hamid Toursonof
Politics in Kyrgyzstan is what usually grabs headlines, but the country is increasingly divided over another, less understood news-making phenomenon -- polygamy. 

Rustam Khakimov, a bazaar trader in the southern town of Karasuu and the father of five children, is one of those Kyrgyz citizens who believe that polygamy is an integral part of the country's cultural tradition. Khakimov says that he would take another wife without hesitation if his income allowed. 

"Considering polygamy a crime is what the West imposes on us Muslims. They [Westerners] prohibit a marriage between a man and several women, but allow a man marrying a man," Khakimov said. "If you respect the freedom of religion, let every woman decide whether she should marry a married man or not, and live according to Islamic law." 

Polygamy carries a two-year prison sentence under the Kyrgyz criminal code, but, with time, the practice has shed its Soviet-era taboo, and become an illegal act that is openly acknowledged to exist. Particularly in the country's more traditionally Islamic southern regions of Osh, Jalal-Abad and Batken, it is believed to be flourishing. Reliable statistics, however, do not exist. No prosecutions for polygamy are known to have occurred. 

Reasons for the reviving popularity of polygamy are connected with the falling-away of secular Soviet-era mores, and the search for distinctly Kyrgyz "traditions" and "values," commented one psychologist. "Polygamy is an integral part of the mentality of local people," Tatiana Arkhipova, a psychologist at Osh State University, told EurasiaNet. "The majority of local women and men in the ... region perceive polygamy as a natural way of life forbidden during Soviet times." 

Economics also plays a role. Many poorer Kyrgyz seem to feel that, amid difficult economic times, a collective approach to making ends meet is more pragmatic than an individual effort. "Polygamy exists due to the poverty of the majority of the population, and there is no way to eliminate it without improvement of living standards," said Osh-based independent sociologist Minojat Tashbayeva. "In February 2007, I interviewed 20 women for my research, and the majority of them asserted they would marry married men if they and their children are supported and taken care of. Only a few of them, from well-to-do families, condemned the very idea of polygamy." 

Women make up some 50.6 percent of Kyrgyzstan's population of 5.2 million, according to government statistics, yet carry a disproportionately large amount of the responsibility for providing for their families. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that women hold 75 percent of all jobs in Kyrgyzstan, mostly in low-paying sectors. In this, heavy rates of labour migration by Kyrgyz men to Russia and Kazakhstan are also believed to play a role. 

Average salaries for women in Kyrgyzstan, the Fund says, are 65 per cent of the wages paid to men. No women hold seats in parliament, and few hold senior government positions -- despite statements in 2006 by President Kurmanbek Bakiyev that this gender imbalance should be corrected. "Women believe that there are not enough good men in the society," said Arkhipova, the psychologist. "First wives accept other wives, fearing their husbands will divorce them if there are disagreements." 

Opinions remain sharply divided about the practice. An attempt by the Justice Ministry to decriminalize the practice failed in late March, with Bakiyev expressing strong opposition to such a move. At a March 19th round table hosted and organized by Osh State University, participants condemned what they described as attempts to encourage the public to support legalization. "Polygamy is immoral," said Gulnaz, a female college student from Osh. 

Other women in this predominantly ethnic Uzbek town differ. Barno and Zulaikho, wives of 47-year-old Osh resident Khabibullo Karimov, take polygamy for granted. "My marriage with my husband is blessed by Islam. There is nothing wrong about it," said Zulaikho, who is 21 years younger than her husband. "My parents and I are glad that I live happily with my husband." Both Barno and Zulaikho say that they will not mind if their husband takes a fourth and final wife, as prescribed by Islamic law. Karimov's third wife, Madina, is an ethnic Bulgarian who adopted Islam and now lives in a separate house from Karimov and his wives. 

"I want to marry one more woman," said Karimov. "I have 16 children, but I would be happy to have more." All of Karimov's 16 children call his wives "mom." 

Two of Karimov's elder sons study at the Kyrgyz Turkish University in the capital, Bishkek; his other sons will receive a higher education, too, he says. His five girls, however, are a different matter. Karimov cites the fact that the family lives "in the country," where there are no separate higher education institutions for women, as the reason "why my daughters will not study on after finishing secondary school." 

Osh sociologist Tashbayeva believes that the need to protect the rights of subsequent wives and their children argues in favour of legalizing polygamy. "When divorcing her husband, only the first wife is eligible to defend her rights in court, whereas second, third or fourth wives do not enjoy any rights since they do not register their marriages as the law prohibits polygamy," Tashbayeva said. "Thus, by forbidding polygamy to protect the rights of women, the government actually violates the rights of second, third and, or, fourth wives... The law must equally consider all wives, regardless of whether she is first, second, third or fourth." 

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BUDGET SURPLUS

Budget surplus at 4.8% of GDP in Q1


Kyrgyzstan had a state budget surplus of 1.017 billion som or 4.8 per cent of GDP in the first quarter of 2007, the national statistics committee said. Revenues were 6.292 billion som and expenditure was 5.275 billion som, New Europe reported.
Taxes accounted for 83.5 per cent of revenue or 5.253 billion som (29.3 per cent higher than in the same period of last year), including 2.426 billion som in VAT and 701 million som in foreign trade taxes.
Non-tax revenue grew 23.2 per cent to 979.2 million som or 15.6 per cent of total revenue, including 793.6 million som from the sale of goods and services. General public spending and spending on defence, law and order and security totalled 1.309 billion som, spending on the economy - 306 million som, public-sector wages - 1.722 billion som, social welfare and benefits - 420 million som and interest on sovereign loans and loans from international financial organizations - 90.1 million som. Approved budget revenue in 2007 is 26.217 billion som, spending - 32.161 billion som and the deficit - 4.096 billion som.
Foreign investment in the economy of Kyrgyzstan increased 15.8 per cent to 2.514 billion Euro in 2006. Foreign direct investment in Kyrgyzstan increased 60 per cent last year with the manufacturing industry accounting for 42 per cent of investment, financial activities - 18.4 per cent and the mining industry - 16.6 per cent.
In particular, foreign direct investment in agriculture increased 370 per cent to 3.6 million Euro in 2006, investment in operations with real estate, leasing and consumer services grew 240 per cent to 25.3 million Euro. The mining industry - 130 per cent to 55.8 million Euro, transportation and communications - 100 per cent to 9.3 million Euro. The manufacturing industry - 50 per cent to 141 million Euro, financial activities - 50 per cent to 61.8 million Euro and retail, car repairs, appliances and personal use items - 22.3 per cent to 26.7 million Euro. Non-CIS investors increased investment in the Kyrgyz economy 10.8 per cent to 178.4 million Euro in 2006 with Germany accounting for 15.9 per cent of total non-CIS investment, Britain - 11.3 per cent and Cyprus - 6.9 per cent. Foreign direct investment from CIS countries grew 220 per cent to 157.2 million Euro in 2006 with Kazakstan accounting for 40.7 per cent and Russia 5.9 per cent.

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