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Kyrgyz Report: May 25, 1999

25 May 1999

According to the parliamentary press service, the Legislative Assembly passed a law on political parties on 25 May. According to that law, 10 citizens may found a political party. Until now, political parties have been considered as public organizations only. According to the old law on public organizations, only a group of not less then 500 people had the right to set up a public organization.

According to the Election Code passed in the parliament recently, 15 out of 60 deputies to the parliament's Legislative Assembly are to be elected according to the proportional (party list) system in the next parliamentary elections in February, 2000. But only those parties formed not later than one year before the date of elections are eligible to participate. There are currently more than 20 political parties in Kyrgyzstan.

The presidential press service announced in Bishkek on 25 May that President Askar Akayev has signed a special decree setting up the governmental Agency on Migration and Demography. It will be formed on the basis of the migration department of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. The director of the new agency has not been appointed yet. The finance ministry must allocate funds for the new agency.

Igor Zabara, Director General of the Kyrgyzalco state corporation, announced in Bishkek on 25 May that a new Murek factory has been formed within the framework of his corporation. The Murek will produce ethyl spirit. In 1998 the parliament passed a law creating a state monopoly on alcohol production in the country, and until now, the Bakai joint-venture had a monopoly on spirit production in Kyrgyzstan. But the government has recently accused Bakai of tax evasion and imposed a huge fine on it, in response to which the company halted production.

Bolot Januzakov, head of the security department in the presidential administration, told journalists at a special news conference in Bishkek on 25 May that the decision by the Bakai leadership to halt production constitutes "economic sabotage," because a lot of enterprises in the country are now left without spirit. Januzakov argued that Bakai should lease its facilities to the government.

Exchange offices in Bishkek sold one US dollar for 44.4 soms on 25 May. According to the press service for the National Bank, the som's rate was 43.01 soms to the $1 at the inter-bank market in Bishkek. In total, $827,000 were sold on 25 May, of which the National Bank sold $757,000.

According to ITAR-TASS, Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Muratbek ImanAliyev and China's Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade Jian Syan held talks on bilateral economic cooperation in Beijing on 25 May. ImanAliyev arrived in China last week.

First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Silaev announced in Bishkek on 24 May that water supplies to the Jambyl and Chimkent regions of neighboring Kazakhstan from the Kara-Bura water reservoir on Kyrgyz territory (the Talas region) were cut a week ago. According to Silaev, the governments of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan agreed last year that Kazakhstan would give Kyrgyzstan 560,000 metric tons of coal in 1999 in return for water from the Kara-Bura reservoir. But Kazakhstan has not yet sent any coal to Kyrgyzstan this year, nor has Kazakhstan informed the Kyrgyz Government on a time-table for coal deliveries. Silaev said a governmental delegation from Kazakhstan will come to Bishkek to negotiate the issue soon.

Kazakhstan halted gas deliveries to Kyrgyzstan a week ago because the Kyrgyz government owed $2.2 million for gas transportation to the Kazakhstan's Intergas company. Supplies were restored on 22 May after Bishkek paid $25,000 of that debt. Kazakhstan owes Kyrgyzstan $22 million for electricity supplies.

Boris Silaev held a news conference in Bishkek on 24 May to expound the government's views on the chemical accident near Baskoon village one year ago. A truck with 20 tons of sodium cyanide belonging to a subsidiary of Canada's Cameco corporation plunged into the Barskoon river on 20 May1998, spilling about 2 tons of chemicals. Four people died from poisoning last June and about 5,000 people were hospitalized. Silaev accused unnamed politicians of using the issue in their own political interests.

Silaev said the issue had already been settled and a conciliatory agreement between the Kyrgyz Government and the Canadian Cameco corporation has been signed. According to that agreement, Kyrgyzstan will receive 114 million soms (about $3 million) in compensation of a damage. The Kyrgyz government received 59 million soms of that sum even before the agreement was signed in New York in January 1999. 19 million soms have been allocated for boarding houses in the Issyk-Kul region, where some of the victims constrained to leave their homes as a result of the spill of chemicals were rehoused last year. 8.5 million soms were given to farms in the Barskoon village. Barskoon residents have received 1,000-som each in compensation.

Residents of some villages in the Issyk-Kul region held several protest meetings earlier this month. Member of Parliament Jypar Jeksheev announced last week that the compensation is too small to cover the damage and that the conciliatory agreement should be canceled. Jeksheev said he would send a lot of documents on the accident, including several video documentaries, to international organizations and international courts.

Jengish Jylkybayeva, a physician at the National Hospital in Bishkek, told RFE/RL last week she visited Barskoon on 22 - 25 April 1999 and found in the files of local authorities (in the village administration, local hospital and the local registry office) that 22 people have died in the village since the accident. In two cases the cause of death was given as "cyanide poisoning.". In the four years before the accident, 40 people died in the village. Several residents of Barskoon are still at the National Hospital in Bishkek receiving medical treatment connected with the poisoning.

According to the presidential press service, President Askar Akayev received World Bank representative Mohinder Mudahar in Bishkek on 24 May. Implementation of the projects in Kyrgyzstan financed by the WB as well as a seminar of donor-states to be held by the World Bank in Washington in June were discussed. A Kyrgyz delegation led by Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev will take part in that seminar.

The presidential press service also announced that President Askar Akayev received Vladimir Zemskii, secretary of the CIS Council on Collective Security, in Bishkek on 24 May. The repercussions of the decision by some CIS states not to renew their participation in the May 1992 CIS Collective Security Treaty was discussed. Akayev told Zemskii Kyrgyzstan supports the Russian-led security treaty.

According to the governmental press service, Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev received a delegation from Malaysia in Bishkek on 24 May. Possible Malaysian investments in Kyrgyz economy were discussed. According to the press service, Malaysia is interested in the three projects: construction of a high voltage power line from Bishkek to the Chinese city of Kashghar, tourism development in the Issyk-Kul valley and the reconstruction of highways in Kyrgyzstan.

The parliamentary press service announced in Bishkek on 24 May that the parliament's Legislative Assembly had considered President Akayev's vetoes on 8 clauses of the Criminal Procedure Code passed by the parliament on 30 June 1998. The Assembly agreed on 5 of them and overruled the remaining three. The Code will be effective from 1 September 1999.

Exchange offices in Bishkek sold one US dollar for 43.6 soms on 24 May. According to the press service for the National Bank, the National Bank sold $470,000 at the inter-bank market in Bishkek, at a rate of 42.37 soms to $1. The rate of the som was 30 soms to $1 last March and 17 soms to $1 last July.

Government department head Akbaraly Aitikeev announced in Bishkek on 22 May that gas deliveries to some districts of Bishkek and northern regions of the country were resumed the previous day. The regions had been without natural gas for 4 days. The Intergas company on Kazakh territory cut gas supplies due to the Kyrgyz government's $2.2-million debt for gas transportation. According to Aitikeev, the government has now paid $25,000 of that debt.

First Vice Prime Minister Boris Silaev announced in Bishkek on 21 May that negotiations on the remaining part of the debt are under way between the Kyrgyz and Kazakh governments. Kazakhstan owes Kyrgyzstan about $20 million for electricity supplies.

A one-day congress of Kyrgyz judges was held in Bishkek on 22 May. President Askar Akayev, Prime Minister Amangeldi Muraliev, the speakers of the two parliamentary houses, Usup Mukambaev and Abdygany Erkebaev, the leaders of the Supreme Court, Court of Arbitration, Constitutional Court, and other top officials took part.

Addressing the congress, President Askar Akayev said there is no eform as yet in the juridical system of the country, and that the courts in Kyrgyzstan still operate as they did during the Soviet era. According to the president, besides fighting crime, Kyrgyz judges should defend human rights. He added that fairness on the part of judges can restore people�s trust in state power. The congress approved several law drafts on reforms in judiciary.

The first two congresses of Kyrgyz judges were held in Bishkek in 1994 and 1996. President Akayev criticised lack of reforms in juridical system on both those occasions.

Finance Minister Marat Sultanov announced in Bishkek on 21 May that output of light industry in the first quarter of 1999 was 30 percent lower than in the same period of 1998. According to Sultanov, debts of the light industry enterprises to the government should be restructured, and the Finance Ministry is preparing a draft law to that effect. The minister also said that Kyrgyzstan must pay $43 million in foreign debt in 1999 and $70 million in 2000, so the next year will be more difficult for the country.

Exchange officies in Bishkek sold one US dollar for 42.5 soms on 21 May. The som�s rate was 42.15 soms to $1 at the inter-bank market in Bishkek that day, and a total of $245,000 was sold, according to the National Bank.

According to information from the editorial board of the "Kut Bilim" newspaper, its owner, the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, wants to restructure it and revert to its old name, the Teachers� Paper. The paper was founded more than 45 years ago. Its name was changed to "Kut Bilim" (Beneficial Knowledge) in 1992 after Kyrgyzstan became independent.