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Kyrgyzstan Launches New Public Chamber

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev, who came to power in 2005 after mass popular protests, feels that there is a gap between the post-revolutionary government and ordinary people.

That is why, on February 24, the country's new Public Chamber began its first-ever session in Bishkek.

Bakiev has said the role of the chamber -- its 45 members chosen from 300 war veterans, politicians, intellectuals, and NGO leaders -- is to bridge the gap between the government and the people.

Kubanychbek Syidanov, the chairman of the new body, told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service after he was elected to the position that the body will make suggestions to the government in accordance with the people's wishes.

But Kyrgyz human rights activists and oppositionists have expressed concern over the body.

Dinara Oshurakhunova, the leader of the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service on February 24 that such bodies were around even during the rule of President Askar Akayev, who was ousted in the country's 2005 Tulip Revolution.

Bakiev is just repeating this, she said, and the new body, mainly made up of the so-called "honored elderly," will actually prevent the Kyrgyz government from reaching out to the people.

The body also looks remarkably similar to Russia's Public Chamber, which Putin initiated in 2005 and has been criticized as an ineffectual, toothless body.

The test of Bakiev's democratic credentials will be to see whether the Kyrgyz body will follow the path taken by the Kremlin.

-- Tyntchtykbek Tchoroev

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Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at