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Kyrgyz Report: October 12, 1999

12 October 1999

The parliamentary People's Assembly (upper house) on 12 October approved a decision by the Security Council on forming a new, seventh, administrative region in the country. Of the 50 members of the Assembly who attended the session (of a total of 70), 49 supported the decision. Prior to the vote, President Askar Akaev said17 servicemen have been killed in Kyrgyzstan since the rebel crisis began in August, and more than 40 people have been wounded. According to the president, formation a new region will help to strengthen security in southern regions of the country because about 2,000 rebels are preparing a new invasion of Kyrgyzstan next spring. Akaev said the rebels are prepared now at the military bases in Jergetal, Tajikabad and Garm regions of neighboring Tajikistan. The Security Council, chaired by President Akaev, decided on 5 October to divide three districts (the Batken, Chong-Alai and Kadamjai districts) from Osh oblast to form the new Batken region, which will have a surface area of about 1,200 hectares and a population of about 380,000 people. That is more than the population of the two smallest of the country's six regions: there are currently 190,000 residents in the Talas region and 240,000 residents in the Naryn region. The Issyk-Kul region has 425,000 residents now and the Osh region had more than one million residents before the three districts were separated from it.

It was announced at the session that there are now a total of 1,200 industrial enterprises in the Batken, Chong-Alai and Kadamjai districts, of which the most important are the tobacco fermentation factory in Kyzyl-Kyia, the stibium plant in the town of Kadamjai and the mercury plant in Haidarken.

Deputy Yuruslan Toichubekov told the session that the government will spend 180 million soms (about $4,5 million) a year for the new region. According to Toichubekov, Kyrgyzstan has spent 140 million soms (about $3.5 million) in dealing with the rebel crisis since last August. Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev confirmed that claim, saying the government has spent more than 100 million soms for military operations in the south since August, and that the government has to find additional 200 million soms for the new region next year.

According to the Defense Ministry, the situation in the southern regions of the country has been relatively calm recently. The government troops have extended their control to the area where the river-heads of the Jyluu-Suu and Jangy-Daban rivers meet, as well as the Shudman glacier. ITAR-TASS announced on 12 October that government troops had occupied the village of Kojo-Ashkan but the Defense Ministry would not confirm that claim when asked by an RFE/RL correspondent.

According to previous reports, the rebels hold most of their 13 hostages near the village of Kojo-Ashkan. They include a Kyrgyz general and four Japanese geologists.

Parliamentary deputy Tchingiz Aitmatov, who is Kyrgyzstan's Ambassador to NATO and the EU, told the parliamentary session on 12 October that NATO is ready to help Kyrgyzstan deal with the rebel crisis. Aitmatov did not elaborate what kind of help would be given. According to him, he made a report on current situation in southern Kyrgyzstan at the NATO meeting on international terrorism last week. Aitmatov told the session that presidents of Central Asian states should meet and discuss the situation in southern Kyrgyzstan.

The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs announced in Bishkek on 12 October that it implemented a plan on paying social allowances for 71 percent in the first nine months of this year. The ministry currently owes 69.6 million soms (about $1.7 million) for social allowances. Most of those payments are made in the form of commodities and with about two and a half month of delay.

According to the Defense Ministry on 11 October, the situation in the southern Batken, Chong-Alai and Kadamjai districts has been relatively calm in recent days, and no clashes have occurred. According to the ministry, some rebels have left the Kojo-Ashkan gorge for neighboring Tajikistan recently and there are about 100 rebels left in the gorge. It is believed that most of the 13 hostages taken last August are held in the Kojo-Ashkan.

According to an anonymous government official, Kyrgyz government forces are preparing a new military action to liberate the Kojo-Ashkan gorge and the operation could begin any time. The troops liberated the neighboring Zardaly and Korgon villages on 4 October. According to local residents in Batken districts, the rebels also concentrating their forces to fight the Kyrgyz government troops.

The chairman of the independent Human Rights Movement of Kyrgyzstan, Tursunbek Akunov, arrived in Bishkek from Pakistan on 9 October and held a news conference in Bishkek on 11 October, at which he said he met in Islamabad on his last day in Pakistan with the three representatives of Tahir Yuldashev, one of the leaders of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to which the rebels who invaded Kyrgyzstan last August are believed to belong. Those representatives suggested Akunov should meet the field commander of the rebels in Kyrgyzstan. Akunov did not give more details, saying he was about to depart for southern Kyrgyzstan.

Another Kyrgyz mediator, Chairman of the Presidential Human Rights Commission, Member of Parliament and Ambassador Tursunbai Bakir Uulu is on his way to Kyrgyzstan from Tajikistan now. According to the Kyrgyz embassy in Tajikistan, Bakir Uulu left Dushanbe for Kyrgyzstan on 9 October. He is being accompanied by some officials from the Tajik opposition and they should visit the Jergetal region of Tajikistan before coming to Kyrgyz Osh region. The Tajik Jergetal region borders with Kyrgyzstan's Batken district. Bakir Uulu called Bishkek last week saying he would return to Bishkek soon together with some released hostages.

A third mediator, former Mufti of Kyrgyzstan Sadykjan Kamalov, met with the leaders of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) in Dushanbe last week. Kamalov said he will go to one of the Islamic countries soon to meet leaders of the rebels abroad. UTO leader Said Abdullo Nuri has promised his help to Kamalov.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Russia's leading human rights official, Oleg Mironov, arrived in Kyrgyzstan on 9 October and met in Bishkek on 11 October with Foreign Minister Muratbek ImanAliyev to discuss the human rights situation in Kyrgyzstan and the current hostage crisis. Mironov will leave Kyrgyzstan for Uzbekistan on 14 October after meeting with President Askar Akaev.

Deputy Mufti of Kyrgyzstan Abdylda Asrankulov told an RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek on 11 October that Kuwait's deputy minister on religious affairs, Adal al Falih, is in Kyrgyzstan now. He has met with the leadership of the Muftiyat (the Muslim Board) as well as the chairman of the governmental commission on religious affairs Jolbors Jorobekov. Cooperation between the two states in religious affairs was discussed.

An official from the Kumtor gold project told an RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek on11 October that an independent British organization will examine the impact of the project on the ecological situation in Kyrgyzstan. The action is financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the British "Flora and Fauna International" has won an international tender on it. The EBRD will allocate $190,000 to finance it.

There are more than 500 metric tons of gold in the Kumtor gold mine ,which is situated at an altitude of about 4,000 meters in the Issyk-Kul region. The Canadian Kumtor Operating Company (KOC) has been developing the mine since 1992. A truck with 20 tons of sodium cyanide belonging to the KOC plunged into the Barskoon river in Issyk-Kul region in May 1998. Several people died and thousands were poisoned. It was reported officially that 1,800 kgs of the chemical were spilled.

According to the presidential press service, President Askar Akaev visited the Batken and Leilek districts in the south of the country on 9 October and met with local residents and officials to discuss the current situation there. President Akayev explained the rationale for creating a new administrative region in southern Kyrgyzstan. According to him, the formation of the Batken region will strengthen security of the whole area.

According to a decision by the Security Council, chaired by Akaev on 5 October, three districts (Batken, Leilek and Kadamjai districts) are to be separated from the Osh region and united into the new separate Batken region. Akaev said on 9 October that the town of Khaidarken should be chosen as a center of the Batken region.

Government spokesman Farid Niyazov announced in Bishkek on 9 October that a Kyrgyz government delegation led by Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev had returned to Bishkek from Yalta, where CIS Prime Ministers discussed CIS reform on 7-8 October. According to Niyazov, there were 22 items on the meeting agenda, of which the most important were reforms in the tax collecting and financing systems, the socio-economical situation, and formation of a CIS free economic zone.

MurAliyev met separately in Yalta with Russian Premier Vladimir Putin and Armenian Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisyan to discuss the current situation in southern Kyrgyzstan. According to Niyazov, the CIS foreign ministers also met in Yalta and adopted a joint document condemning international terrorism.