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Kyrgyz Report: June 7, 1999

7 June 1999

Vice Prime Minister Qian Qichen of China arrived in Bishkek on 8 June. According to the governmental press service, after the meeting between Kyrgyz and Chinese governmental delegations, a special joint declaration has been signed. According to it, there is no unresolved issue between China and Kyrgyzstan and relations between the two states in political, economical, transport, communication, cultural and other spheres will be strengthened in the future. Also, an agreement on 1.3-million-dollar technical assistance to Kyrgyzstan from the Chinese government was signed during the meeting. Qian Qichen announced at the news conference after the meeting that a yearly trade turnover between China and Kyrgyzstan is about $200 million now and that it should be increased.

President Askar Akayev received Qian Qichen in the Ala-Archa presidential residence outside of Bishkek this afternoon. Bilateral relations between the two states were discussed. According to the presidential press service, it was announced at the meeting that the next summit of the Shanghai agreement countries could be held in Bishkek later in 1999. China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan signed in Shanghai in April 1996 and agreement on security along their state frontiers. Also, possibility of traveling between Kyrgyzstan and China without any visa was also discussed. Tomorrow, Chinese vice prime minister will meet with the speakers of the two parliamentary houses. Kyrgyz Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev is in the US now.

The parliamentary Legislative Assembly continued on 8 June to discuss issue on grain reserves of the country, begun last Friday, but no decision has been taken today. It was decided the government must report to the parliament on the issue by 20 June.

Some deputies accused the government of absence of any constant policy on bread supplies in the country. Due to it, huge amount of flour from the reserves of the Ministry of Emergencies has been sent to neighboring Uzbekistan recently, because the government could not pay the Kyrgyzstan*s debt for gas deliveries from Uzbekistan. Some deputies have accused the National Statistical Board of announcing false figures on the last year harvest. Some deputies have suggested to ask neighboring Kazakhstan to pay its 20-million-dollar debt to Kyrgyzstan through grain.

Due to lack of grain reserves, prices for bread and flour have increased in Kyrgyzstan by 30 percent and several protest demonstrations have been held in capital Bishkek and local towns recently. Vice Prime Minister Esengul Omuarliev told the Assembly last Friday there is no grain in the state corn-bins.

Kyrgyz governmental delegation, led by Prime Minister Amangeldi Muraliev, is in the US. According to the governmental press service, they are taking part in a 5-day international conference on economical reforms in Kyrgyzstan. The conference is organized by the World Bank and began in Washington, DC, on 6 June. On 9 June, the World Bank will hold in Washington a meeting of representatives of the donor states and organizations.

Kyrgyz delegation includes Finance Minister Marat Sultanov, acting Chairman of the National Bank Ulan Sarbanov and several members of parliament.

According to the OSCE center in Bishkek, visit of the chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Norwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaeck, postponed due to the recent events in Kosovo. Originally, the visit had been set for 9 June.

Prosecutor of the Chu region Chubak Abyshkayev held a news conference in Bishkek on 7 June. He told the meeting that MP Boris Vorobyev, arrested on 2 June, is charged with the 3 clauses of the Criminal Code, being accused of smuggling, arbitrariness and contempt of court decisions. According to Abyshkayev, the smuggling activity of Vorobyev has made a 2,185,000-som damage to the state budget (about $50,000). He added that the Tax Police has evidences that Vorobyev had evaded taxes too.

Member of the Parliamentary People's Assembly Boris Vorobyev is a president of the private 'Vorobyev and Co' firm, which produces the Vorobyev Vodka. Several members of parliament have been accused of embezzlement and corruption by Prosecutor General Asanbek Sharshenaliev, but the parliament has not yet strip parliamentary immunity from any of them. According to the results of the public referendum, held on 17 October 1998, parliament members have an immunity during the parliamentary sessions only now.

The parliamentary press service announced in Bishkek today the People Assembly would consider the case at its next session which begins on 22 June.

About 50 people picketed the building of the regional administration in the town of Talas on 7 June. They protested worsening of the living conditions and demanded to increase salaries and pensions and pay them in time. First Deputy Governor of the Talas region Kanybek Kurmanbekov has met with the protesters and promised to consider their demands.

The parliamentary Legislative Assembly began to consider the amendments to the Law on Pension and Social Guaranties, prepared by the government. According to the amendments, the minimal salary in Kyrgyzstan should be 200 soms per month instead of previous monthly 100 soms (about $2.3). Deputies say the increase is not enough, because the minimal subsistence level in Kyrgyzstan is about 950 soms for a month per capita (about $15). It was announced at the parliamentary session today that the National Social Fund owes Kyrgyz citizens about 650 million soms (about $15 million) for pensions and other social allowances.

Janaly Shabdyrai-Zerger, chairman of the Bishkek association of youth who construct their own houses in the city suburbs, told our correspondent in Bishkek today that they offered President Askar Akayev on 5 June to form a special constituency for the dwellers of the youth settlements around the city. If they can elect their own deputy, there will be a member of parliament, who will defend their rights. According to Shabdyrai-Zerger, President Askar Akayev promised to consider the offer.

Akayev received representatives of young people, building their own houses in the Bishkek city suburbs on 5 June . The young constructors told the president there are no roads, no running water, no electricity, no public transport in the new settlements around the city and asked Akayev for assistance. According to them, there are about 100,000 dwellers in the new settlements and about 80 percent of them are unemployed young people, come from the countryside.

Alexander Pushkin was installed in front of the Kyrgyz-Russian (Slavic) University in Bishkek today. President Askar Akayev delivered a speech at the opening ceremony. Russian delegation, led by Governor of the Sverdlov Region Eduard Rossel, attended. The statue had been made in the city of Yekaterinburg, center of the Sverdlov Region.

Prominent Russian violinist Vladimir Spivakov gave a concert in the National Philharmonic Society in Bishkek today. The concert was devoted to the 200th anniversary of Pushkin. According to the governmental press service, Spivakov agreed to give another one concert in Bishkek tomorrow. The all raised money will be given to the Meyerim charity fund to be used for construction of the Altyn Balalyk children village on the Issyk-Kul lake. Chairwoman of the Meyerim is the First Lady of Kyrgyzstan, Mairam Akayeva.