Books on Kyrgyzstan
Update No: 318 - (28/06/07)
The search of an Ideology
The Kyrgyz have a problem. They have had a revolution - without a resolution of
the problem that engendered it.
The revolution - the Tulip Revolution - was undoubtedly a great moment of
national renewal. But it had a banal rationale, re-assertion of
liberal-democracy and capitalism.
That was the original problem in the form that it had been put already by former
president, Askar Akayev, in the 1990s. He unfortunately fell under the spell of
Margaret Thatcher and unleashed a programme of 'shock therapy' and the like,
including selling off things for a song, all the prime assets of the state no
less, to the already corrupt beneficiaries of 'shock therapy' - the prime
officials of the former communist bureaucracy of course. One should not do
things in a hurry, except in an emergency.
There is a need for an indigenous inspiration, a basis for legitimacy that is
not too Western; Kyrgyzstan is very Eastern after all. That is now at hand.
National Epic Lessons to Foster Patriotism
Lessons on Manas, the Kyrgyz national epic, will be made compulsory in schools
across the country in an effort to instil patriotism, but NBCentralAsia analysts
warn against teaching an overtly ethno-centric interpretation of the story.
On June 6, State Secretary Adakhan Madumarov announced plans to introduce a
compulsory course in Manas studies in schools, saying that this classic work
contains all the right ideological elements needed for the nation's spiritual
The epic follows Manas, a ninth-century hero, and his heirs as they battle
hostile tribes to unite the Kyrgyz and retain independence. Passed down orally
by narrators, or manaschy, for centuries, the 500,000-line story was first
written down at the end of the 19th century.
According to Abdyldajan Akmataliev, the director of the Centre for Manas Studies
and Artistic Culture, teaching the epic in schools will help foster morality and
patriotism and encourage people to learn more about Kyrgyz traditions and
Historian Jamilya Darmanova believes there is an ideological vacuum in the
country at the moment, which makes young people feel lost. They are in urgent
need of this kind of patriotic education, she said.
NBCentralAsia analysts say the Manas studies course should avoid being too
inward-looking and should take Kyrgyzstan's ethnic diversity into account, as
well as the trend towards globalisation.
Political scientist Marat Kazakbaev would like to see the introduction of a
broader course on patriotism that is not confined solely to Manas. The scope for
lessons on the epic itself is too narrow, he argues, and teachers will have to
branch out and include other material anyway.
Analyst Mars Sariev says the ethno-nationalist slant put on the epic in the
Nineties has failed to be inclusive, so it does not make sense to go ahead and
introduce the course without first rethinking the whole philosophical approach
"In this era of globalisation, the epic should not be taught to the current
generation using old methods. The task for our philosophers and historians is to
adapt and interpret the epic in a way that teaches the young to be successful
and patriotic," said Sariev.
But Member of Parliament Avazbek Momunkulov believes the proposal for a Manas
course has come too late to instil a sense of patriotism as part of the
nation-building process. It would have been better to use Manas right after the
collapse of the Soviet Union, when people really needed a new ideology.
There are other trial balloons in the air:-
Moscow gives cool reception to Kyrgyz-Russian confederation proposal
Sergei Blagov 6/11/07
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 to Bishkek for talks with
Kyrgyz leaders, but the visit did not produce any tangible improvement in
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.
National bank to introduce coins
Kyrgyzstan's central national bank is to introduce the first coins since the
country shifted from the Soviet rouble. According to financial experts, this
move has been made possible by seven consecutive years of low inflation.
Kyrgyzstan is one of the few countries in the world that does not have coins.
Small square banknotes have been used for the smallest denominations since the
som, the Kyrgyz national currency, replaced Soviet roubles in 1993. The only
coins issued by the central bank have been for commemorative or collectable
purposes. Marat Alapaev, the head of the National Bank of Kyrgyzstan recently
announced that coins with a face value of up to five soms, or 13 US cents, would
be issued from January 1st next year. Ulan Sarbanov, a former head of the
central bank, told Irinnews that Kyrgyzstan previously opted out of putting
coins into normal circulation as over time, they would cost more to manufacture
than their face value, New Europe reported.
Economy to grow by 9% a year by 2011
Kyrgyzstan's development strategy for 2007-2010 envisions that GDP will grow
by nine per cent a year, Finance Minister, Akylbek Zhaparov, said at a finance
ministry meeting, Interfax News Agency reported.
Due to a successful reform strategy, per capita GDP will be 872 Euro in 2011 and
will increase by more than 60.6 per cent from 2006, he said.
The real growth of average-monthly salaries is forecast at 15-18 per cent a
year, which will lead to an increase in personal income. The country's
development strategy for 2007-2010 envisions an increase in the country's
economic potential, fighting corruption, social development and providing for
ecological stability, Zhaparov said.
The finance ministry, in calculating the resources needed to implement the
strategy, using the base and strategic scenarios. A total of 5.6 billion Euro is
needed to implement the base scenario, including 69 per cent in government
resources, 22 per cent in private investment and nine percent in international
The strategic scenario envisions spending of 8.8 billion Euro, of which
government resources will account for 28 per cent, international aide for 6 per
cent and foreign investment for 66 per cent, he said.
Bakiyev vows to speed up energy sector privatisation
Kyrgyz President, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, has called on parliament to approve
plans to privatise the country's energy sector. "Starting to build new
electricity generating plants on the Naryn and other rivers as soon as possible
will determine our future. But in order to be able to use these resources, we
need to actively explore them, make major investment, and build stations,
reservoirs and canals," Bakiyev said in parliament on June 5th, New Europe
Projects to build hydroelectric power plants cannot be put into practice without
investors, the president said. However, "a legal foundation needs to be
created and the privatisation of the energy sector should be completed"
before steps can be taken to encourage major private investors to come to
Kyrgyzstan, he said. The country's distribution networks should be sold to
private owners, which is envisioned in the fourth stage of the privatisation
programme for Kyrgyzenergo, Bakiyev said. The whole process of privatising the
energy sector "must comply with the law and take place through tenders, as
envisioned by our legislation," the president said. Bakiyev also urged
parliament to move rapidly to adopt bills on the legalisation of capital,
insurance on deposits and amendments to the Tax and Customs Codes.