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Kyrgyz Report: October 29, 1999


29 October 1999

FIRST BORDER TALKS WITH UZBEKISTAN.
Deputy head of the Aravan district in Osh province, Shavkatbek Sabirov, told RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek on 29 October that officials of the Kyrgyz Osh province and the Uzbek Andijan province would begin on 30 October the first talks on demarcation of the state frontier between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. According to Sabirov, Uzbekistan had promised to give Kyrgyzstan 200 hectares of land in compensation for the construction of the Kerkidan water reservoir on Kyrgyz territory. Water from the reservoir is used by Uzbekistan only. Also, Kyrgyzstan had leased to Uzbekistan 6,885 hectares of pasture in the Aravan district. But the Uzbek border guard service had started to place frontier posts on the disputed territories and the action was only stopped after a request from the Kyrgyz side. Sabirov says that the first talks will concentrate on the demarcation of the frontier near the Kyrgyz villages of Chek-Abad and Toe-Moiun in Aravan distirct.

Kyrgyzstan has already signed agreements on border demarcation with Kazakhstan and China. The frontiers with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan has not yet been officially demarcated.

GOVERNMENTAL MEETING.
Prime minister Amangeldi MurAliyev held a governmental meeting in Bishkek on 29 October. According to him, there is still decline in some sectors of industry. He mentioned light industry and food processing.

However, it was announced at the meeting that the agricultural output increased by 8.5 percent in the 9 months of 1999 compared with the same period of last year. The output of energetics increased by 7.2 percent, the fuel industry by 29 percent, the medical industry by 70 percent, and the gross domestic product increased by 3.5 percent.

Finance minister Sultan Mederov told the meeting that the government owes citizens 312 million soms (about $7.4 million) for back wages. According to him, salaries and pensions are paid with one and a half month delay on the average. Also, it was announced at the meeting that the state budget could loose about 1,000 million soms (about $124 million) in 1999 due to back taxes and customs duties.

FOREIGN MINISTER TO IRAN.
The Foreign Ministry announced in Bishkek on 29 that Minister Muratbek ImanAliyev would pay an official visit to Iran on 1-3 November. He will meet Iranian President Khatami, Foreign Minister Kharazi and other state officials. The main topics of discussion will be cooperation between the two states in agriculture and tourism.

EVALUATION OF JUDGES.
According to the governmental press service, a special governmental commission started evaluating all the judges of the country on 29 October. The commission includes chairpersons of the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court of Arbitration and 8 other officials. The evaluation will last until 11 November, and the judges will receive certificates for 3 and 7-year terms. All the judges are appointed by President Askar Akayev, and the evaluation commission has been formed by Akayev too.

NEW UNHCR REPRESENTATIVE TO KYRGYZSTAN.
Head of the UN High Commissioner on Refuges (UNHCR) in Bishkek, Helmut Buss, and UNHCR coordinator for Central Asia, John McCalen, held a news conference in Bishkek on 29 October. It was announced at the meeting that the number of refugees on Kyrgyz territory has declined by 30 percent in the last 5 years, and that there are about 11,000 registered refugees in the country now. About 200 Tajik refugees are returning to Tajikistan on 20 October only, and an additional 2,000 Tajik refugees will return home by the end of the year.

It was announced at the meeting that the new UNHCR representative to Kyrgyzstan would be Fauzi Abdul Majeed, who replaces Helmut Buss.

PRESIDENT AKAYEV VISITS THE FEZ.
According to the presidential press service, President Askar Akayev visited on 29 October the Bishkek Free Economic Zone and met with its leadership. There are 46 industrial enterprises in the new FEZ capital Bishkek. It was announced during the meeting that they have paid 50-million-som (about $1.2 million)in taxes in the nine months of this year.

SPECIAL GRANTS TO RUSSIAN STUDENTS SPEAKING KYRGYZ.
The administration of Bishkek-city announced on 29 Octoberthat it has established two special monthly grants for ethnic Russian students of Kyrgyz universities and institutes who are making progress in speaking Kyrgyz. The grants will be named after prominent Kyrgyz scholars Kasym Tynystanov and Bolot Yunusaliev. There are about 600,000 ethic Russians (about 13 percent of total population) now in Kyrgyzstan.

NO RANSOM WAS PAID TO REBELS, OFFICIALLY.
Japanese Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Hidekata Mitsuhasi announced in Bishkek on 28 October that no ransom had been paid to rebels for the release of the hostages. The ambassador told this to journalists after his meeting in Bishkek with Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev. He expressed the gratitude of the Japanese leadership to the Kyrgyz government for the release of the 4 Japanese citizens who had been held hostage from 22 August until 25 October.

MP Tursunbai Bakir Uulu organized a live phone line for journalists in Bishkek the night of 27 October with Zubair Ibn Abdurrahim, who represented himself as a chairman of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The organization has admitted that its rebels took hostages in Kyrgyzstan. According to Zubair Ibn Abdurrahim too, no ransom had been paid for the hostage release. He did not identify what country he spoke from.

Several hundred rebels invaded Kyrgyzstan from neighboring Tajikistan on 22 August and took about 25 people hostage that day and later, including 4 Japanese geologists working at a gold mine in Kyrgyzstan. Some of hostages were released later, but 13 hostages had been held in captivity until only recently. The last group of hostages (the Japanese geologists and their Kyrgyz interpreter) were released in Tajikistan on 25 October. In total, 27 Kyrgyz citizens have been killed during the hostage-crisis. 23 of them were either servicemen or policemen.

Also, the two Kyrgyz citizens - brothers Kursanaly Tolobaev amd Seksenbai Tolobaev - from the village of Kojo-Ashkan) joined the rebels during the crisis. The Kyrgyz government called them traitors, and now they are wanted criminals. The rebel bases are situated on Tajik territory.

PRESIDENT AND PRIME MINISTER SEND TELEGRAMS TO ARMENIA.
According to the presidential press service, President Askar Akayev and Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev sent on 28 October condolence telegrams to Armenian President Robert Kocharian, to the Armenian government and to the relatives of the people killed in Yerevan the preceding night.

KYRGYZ DEBT TO RUSSIA IS BEING RESTRUCTURED.
Governmental spokesman Farid Niyazov announced in Bishkek on 28 October that Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev has agreed with the Russian government to restructure the Kyrgyz debt to Russia. According to Niyazov, the two sides should agree now on the terms of delay. Kyrgyzstan is asking for 38-month delay and Russia demands that the debt be repaid in 18 months.

Kyrgyzstan owes Russia $157 million and should have paid $18 million in 1999 as interest only. MurAliyev visited Moscow on 24-26 October and met with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and several Russian ministers there.

PRESIDENT RECEIVES FOREIGN AMBASSADORS.
According to the presidential press service, President Askar Akayev received in Bishkek on 28 October 5 foreign ambassadors - British Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan George Lewingston, Canadian Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Gerald Scinner, South Korean Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Che Sin Kho, Malaysian Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Yahaya Bin Abdul Jabar, and Georgian Ambassador Givi Abdishelishbili. The offices of the British, Canadian and Korean ambassadors are in Almaty, Kazakhstan. The Malaysian and Georgian ambassadors have their offices in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Bilateral relations between Kyrgyzstan and the corresponding countries were discussed during the meetings.

TURKISH MILITARY DELEGATION IN BISHKEK.
According to the Defense Ministry, First Deputy Minister Nurdin Chomoev received in Bishkek on 28 October a Turkish delegation led by General Sharafidin Teleasan. An agreement on cooperation in the military sector was signed. According to the agreement, Turkey will help Kyrgyzstan to modernize its army and will train Kyrgyz officers in Turkey.

SEMINAR ON HUMAN RIGHTS.
According to the presidential press service, department head in the presidential administration Marat Kaiypov opened in Bishkek on 28 October a conference on the human rights situation in the country. Representatives of human rights groups of Kyrgyzstan, non-governmental organizations, interior and security ministries and the procurator general office, as well as the OSCE office in Kyrgyzstan are taking part.

CORRUPTION IN KYRGYZSTAN.
The Berlin based Transparency International released on 26 Octobery the results of its survey on corruption in the world. The situation in 99 countries was surveyed, and they are ranked according to the level of non-corruption in the country. Kyrgyzstan is on 87th place among the 99 states, together with Pakistan and Uganda.

The other former soviet republics are ranked as follows: Estonia - 27, Lithuania - 50, Belarus and Latvia - 58, Moldova - 75, Ukraine - 76, Armenia - 80, Russia - 82, Georgia and Kazakhstan - 84, Uzbekistan - 94, Azerbaijan - 96. Surveys in Tajikistan and Turkmenistan have not been done.

AMENDED BUDGET DRAFT FOR 2000 SHOWS PROFIT AGAIN.
Parliamentary committee chairman Abdysatar Abdykaipov told an RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek on 27 October that the committee had received an amended draft to the law on the state budget for 2000 and would begin considering it on 28 October. According to him, the government calls for expenditures of 10,079 million soms (about $235,000) and expects revenues of 10,022 million soms next year. The draft has been amended due to a recent decision on the formation of a new 7th province in the country. According to Abdykaipov, new 14 frontier posts will be set up in the Batken and Osh provinces in 2000 and 129 million soms (about $3 million) will be spent for this. 1,300 people will work at these posts. Also, the government asks to spend 884 million soms (about $20 million) for defense issues in 2000. It is 46 percent more than 1999.

The new Batken province was formed as a result of the rebel crisis Kyrgyzstan, which lasted from 22 August till 25 October.

MILITARY EXERCISES IN KYRGYZSTAN.
The Defense Ministry announced in Bishkek on 27 October that military exercises began in the southern regions of the country that day. Troops from Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are taking part. According to the ministry, Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev might come to attend the final stage of the exercises on 1 November.

PROJECT TO SAVE ARAL SEA.
Alisher Sakybaev, Kyrgyz coordinator for the international project to save the Aral Sea, held a news conference in Bishkek on 27 October. According to him, the project will be put into effect in 2000, and it is expected that $21 million will be spend in four and a-half years on the project.4 The project was approved in May 1998 and has been supported by the World Bank, European Community, the Gobal Ecology Foundation as well as Sweden and the Netherlands. Kyrgyzstan must make a contribution of $350,000 to the project.

CONFERENCE ON MEDIA IN CENTRAL ASIA ENDS.
A 3-day international conference on the media situation in the Central Asian states ended in Bishkek on 27 October. Representatives of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan took part in it. The conference adopted an appeal to the presidents of Central Asia, demanding a stop to pressure on the media. Also, an agreement on cooperation between media organizations in Central Asia was been signed.

PARLIAMENTARY SESSION IN NOVEMBER.
Speaker of the parliamentary People�s Assembly, Abdygany Erkebaev announced in Bishkek on 27 October that the next session of the Assembly would begin on 9 November. The main issues to be discussed are the budget draft for 2000, implementation of the state budget in 1999 and 1998, and other economic issues, such as the use of foreign investments and loans, irregularities in privatization and gold mining, agrarian reforms in the country, and other issues.

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