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Kyrgyz Report: January 21, 2000

21 January 2000

Kyrgyzstan's Deputy Prosecutor General Japar Mukashev told a news conference in Bishkek on 21 January that the arrest of parliament deputy Daniyar Usenov was not politically motivated. A court case against Usenov was opened in 1996 and he was accused of beating businessman Kengesh Mukaev. The Interior Ministry finished the investigation and passed the case to the Lenin district court of Bishkek on 20 July 1999, and the trial was set for 17 January 2000. On 14 January, Judge Sutalinova appealed to the Prosecutor General Office and Mukashev signed a sanction to arrest Usenov, according to Mukashev.

Daniyar Usenov, who is a parliament deputy and chairman of the opposition El (Bei Bechara) Party, was taken into custody late on 19 January in the #1 hospital in Bishkek. A conference of cardiologists ruled in Bishkek on 21 January that Usenov's illness is serious, and signed a special appeal to the court, after which a court session set for 21 January was postponed.

About 200 people, including members of the El and Ar-Namys Parties and of the Party of Democratic Movement of Kyrgyzstan and the Republican Party, picketed the building of the Lenin district court on the morning of 21 January, demanding an end to the persecution of Usenov. That afternoon, they moved to the central square and picketed the government building. According to participants of the picket, the case is politically motivated and is renewed due to forthcoming parliamentary elections. Party of Communists of Kyrgyzstan Chairman Absamat MasAliyev told an RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek on 21 January that even plaintiff Kengesh Musaev is defending Usenov now. The Pervomai district court of Bishkek closed the criminal case against Usenov last October due to a statement by Mukaev that he had nothing against Usenov.

Four prominent politicians (Chairman of the Ar-Namys Party Felix Kulov, Chairman of the Party of Democratic Movement of Kyrgyzstan Jypar Jeksheev, leader of the Kairan-El Party Dooronbek Sadyrbaey and one of the leaders of the El Party Bakyt Beshimov) sent a letter to Kyrgyz leadership on 21 January demanding to stop persecution of Usenov.

The Central Election Commission (CEC) announced in Bishkek on 21 January that 551 people are running for the 105-seat parliament on 20 February. According to the CEC, 296 people run for the lower house (the 60-seat Legislative Assembly) and 255 people run for the upper house (the 45-seat People's Assembly). However, only 334 people have been registered as candidates so far. The deadline to nominate candidates expired on 20 January and the CEC should finish the registration process by 25 January.

According to the government press service, a government delegation led by Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev left Bishkek on 21 January for Astana to take part in a meeting of the Kyrgyz-Kazakh inter-governmental commission. The Kyrgyz delegation includes Vice Prime Minister Esengul Omuraliev, Foreign Minister Muratbek Imanaliev, Finance Minister Sultan Mederov, Defense Minister Esen Topoev and Director General of the Kyrgyznergo Agency Bakirdin Sartkaziev. MurAliyev has already met in Astana with Kazakh Prime Minister Kasymjomart Tokaev to discuss bilateral economic, military, trade and customs relations. It is expected that an agreement on joint use of hydropower facilities along the Talas and Chu rivers will be signed and a term of a protocol on free trade will be prolonged.

According to the Ministry of Emergencies, on the morning of 20 January a truck with chemicals overturned on a bridge along the road between Barskoon village and the mountainous Kumtor gold mine. About 1,500 kilograms of ammonium nitrate were spilled. The truck belonged to the Canadian Kumtor Operating Company (KOC) which develops the mine. KOC workers collected all the spilled chemicals the same day. Emergency Ministry experts began to examine soil on the site and water of Barskoon River on 21 January.

A truck with 20 tons of sodium cyanide belonging to the KOC crashed into the Barskoon River, which flows into the Issyk-Kul Lake, on 20 May 1998. Four people died from the resulting chemivcal contamination, about 2,600 people were poisoned, of whom more than 1,000 were hospitalized, and more than 17,000 residents of the villages situated in the Barskoon valley applied for medical assistance between 20 May and 1 August 1998. About 5,000 residents of the Barskoon village were evacuated to the northern side of the Issyk-Kul Lake for a week in June 1998. There are more than 500 metric tons of gold in Kumtor.

President Akaev attended the presentation of a government project on reforms in the health care system in Bishkek on 21 January. The project will be implemented in frame of the government Manas program and an $8 million grant from Japan was allocated to it. According to the project, the ambulance service of Bishkek will be reformed and several maternity hospitals around the country will receive help. $ 8.5-million-dollar assistance from the World Bank and other finance organizations is also anticipated.

Parliament deputy and Chairman of the opposition El (Bei-Bechara) Party Daniyar Usenov was taken into custody during the night of 19-20 January despites protests by medical staff at the hospital in Bishkek where he was being treated for a heart condition.

Usenov told an RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek by phone on 20 January that he was registered by the Central Election Commission on 15 January as a parliamentary candidate from a single-mandate constituency in Bishkek. He is accused of not complying with a court summons on 14 January, but said that neither he nor his lawyer had received any summons prior to that date. The summons is in connection with a case brought against Usenov in 1996 by businessman Kengesh Mukaev, who accused Usenov of physically assaulting him. The Pervomai district court in Bishkek closed the case after Mukaev stated that he had nothing against Usenov, but the Prosecutor General's office re-opened the case on its own initiative last December.

According to Usenov, only the Prosecutor General, after consultations with the Central Elections Commission (CEC), has a right to sanction the arrest of a registered candidate to parliament. Usenov's arrest warrant was signed by Deputy Prosecutor General Japar Mukashev. CEC chairman Sulaiman Imanbaev told RFE/RL's correspondent in Bishkek on 20 January that the CEC will not get involved in the case.

More than 200 parliament deputies and El party members picketed the government building in Bishkek on 20 January to protest the harassment of Usenov. Parliament deputy Adaham Madumarov told RFE/RL's correspondent during the demonstration that the law enforcement bodies violated the two laws in arresting Usenov: the law on status of member of parliament and the Election Code. According to Madumarov, the government is targeting the opposition instead of fighting real criminals.

Also on 20 January, a group of El Party members appealed to the head of the OSCE office in Bishkek, Jerzy Weclaw, to intervene in the Usenov case. The coalition of non-governmental organizations of Kyrgyzstan also appealed on 20 January to President Askar Akaev to stop the persecution of opposition politicians. The coalition noted that President Akaev stated at the November 1999 OSCE summit in Istanbul that the parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan will be fair and democratic. Three parliament deputies (Adaham Madumarov, Dooronbek Sadyrbaev, Jypar Jeksheev) and the Chairman of the Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights, Ramazan Dyryldayev, also sent a letter to President Akaev asking him to stop the persecution of Usenov.

An official of the opposition Ar-Namys party told RFE/RL's correspondent in Bishkek on 20 January that the Prosecutor General's office has prepared a warrant for the arrest of party chairman Felix Kulov. Kulov will run for parliament from the Kara-Buura (# 44) single-mandate constituency in Talas oblast.

A parliament official told RFE/RL's correspondent in Bishkek on 20 January that a Bishkek district court tried the previous day to bring parliament deputy Ishenbai Kadyrbekov to court by force. Kadyrbekov is in hospital, and was allowed to remain there only as a result of doctors' protests.

Another member of parliament, Tokon Shailieva, brought legal proceedings against Kadyrbekov for physical assault. The court case opened in the Pervomai district court in Bishkek early this month but was halted on 15 January due to Kadyrbekov's illness. Several members of parliament testified to the court that Shailieva herself attacked Kadyrbekov during a parliament session last year, and that Kadyrbekov had only resorted to self-defense. Shailieva presented in the court a medical document that her little finger was broken.

Kadyrbekov, who was one of the co-founders in 1993 of the Social-Democratic Party, has at times criticized the government. He is registered as candidate to a new parliament from the At-Bashy (#21) single-mandate constituency.

President Askar Akayev chaired a government meeting in Bishkek on 20 January on reforms in the army at which a special gobvernment program on the subject was adopted, according to the presidential press service.

The Foreign Ministry announced in Bishkek on 20 January that Minister Muratbek ImanAliyev will visit Great Britain on 25-29 January. He will meet British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, other government officials and business leaders in London.

State Secretary Naken Kasiev announced in Bishkek on 20 January that according to the most recent study conducted by the UN Development Program office in Kyrgyzstan, 55 percent of the population of the country now live in poverty. According to Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Culture Umetkan Tynalieva, 4,261 children of school age do not attend schools in Kyrgyzstan, of whom 800 do not do so because of poverty.

A Tajik government delegation led by Prime Minister Akil Akilov paid a one-day visit to Bishkek on 19 January and met first with President Askar Akaev and then with Kyrgyz Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev to discuss bilateral economic cooperation, the joint use of highways and the demarcation of the state frontiers. Two inter-governmental agreements were signed: on supporting investments and on forming free economic zones. MurAliyev told journalists after the meeting that the two states are ready for more intensive cooperation. Akilov said that Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan could jointly develop mines along the state borders.

An official in the government told RFE/RL's correspondent in Bishkek on 18 January that Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev has submitted his resignation to President Akaev, but that the president has not yet accepted it. MurAliyev was appointed prime minister last April.

Government official Saparbek Balkybekov told RFE/RL's Bishkek correspondent on 19 January that the Kyrgyz delegation failed to increase volume of natural gas deliveries from Uzbekistan to Kyrgyzstan during the negotiations in Tashkent. Uzbekistan cut gas supplies by half last week, from 60,000 cubic meters per hour to 30,000. According to Balkybekov, Uzbekistan may stop gas deliveries in February if the Kyrgyzgas governmental company does not pay its debt. The company owes Uzbekistan $62,000 and 360 tons of flour for December gas supplies and about $1 million for January 2000.

Kyrgyzgas cut gas deliveries to some areas of the capital city last Saturday [15 January]. It earlier cut gas deliveries to the city heating and power station, but has to give the station 10,000 cubic meters of gas per hour to warm up the heating oil. The station has shifted from natural gas to heating oil due to gas shortage. It is subordinate to the Kyrgyzenergo governmental company, and the latter and Kyrgygas receive natural gas from Uzbekistan under separate agreements. Kyrgyzenergo has not received gas from Uzbekistan since last September due to its debt of about $11 million.

January 20 is the last day to register candidates who want to run for parliament in single-mandate constituencies in the 20 February parliamentary elections. According to the Central Election Commission (CEC), 490 people have submitted their documents, of whom 273 had been registered by 19 January.

Government officials who are running for parliament must leave their posts temporarily within three days after their registration. The CEC mentioned First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Silaev (Number Three in the party list of a pro-governmental bloc), State Property Fund Chairman Tashkul Kereksizov (Number One in the party list of the other pro-governmental bloc), Social Fund chairwoman Roza Aknazarova (Women's Democratic Party), and National Guard commander General Abdygul Chotbaev (Party of War Veterans).

Parliament deputy Daniyar Usenov, Chairman of the EL (Bei-Bechara) Party, announced in Bishkek on 19 January that he received a summons to the Lenin district court. According to him, the city prosecutor office gas re-opened a criminal case against him and handed the case to the district court. Usenov is in hospital now.

Usenov is accused of beating businessman Kengesh Mukaev. The case was begun in 1996 but was closed last October after a presidential amnesty. Usenov is running for parliament from a single-mandate constituency in Bishkek.

According to the governmental press service, Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev will visit Astana on 21 January. He and Kazakh Premier Kasymjomart Tokaev will discuss bilateral cooperation in economics and hydro power energetics. The joint use of hydro-electric power stations along the Chu and Talas rivers will be discussed. A protocol on cooperation between the defense ministries will also be signed and a term of a protocol on free trade will be extended.

According to the governmental press service, a delegation of the British criminal investigation service is currently in Bishkek. They will work out a memorandum on cooperation with Kyrgyz law enforcement bodies and it will be signed in London later.

The traditional presidential New Year Party for students, originally scheduled for last December, was held in Bishkek in the State Opera on 19 January. President Askar Akaev delivered a speech and handed special presents to the best students. About 800 students from around the country took part.

According to the presidential press service, President Askar Akayev has signed a special decree appointing Dokdurbek KurmanAliyev head of the Alamedin district of the Chu Oblast. He had previously been head of the Kadamjai district of Batken Oblast.

A nine-member mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, led by Marc Stevens, arrived in Bishkek on 17 January. The same day, they met with Central Election Commission Chairman Sulaiman Imanbaev to discuss preparations for the 20 February parliamentary elections. It was announced at the meeting that more than 50 OSCE observers will monitor the poll and nine foreign journalists will be accredited in the country during the elections.

Imanbaev told the meeting that governments of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan also confirmed that they will send observers to Kyrgyzstan.

Central Election Commission (CEC) chairman Sulaiman Imanbaev announced in Bishkek on 18 January that the first bloc of political parties was registered with the CEC the previous day. That bloc, which is called the Unity of Democratic Forces, unites three pro-governmental parties: the Social Democratic Party, the Party of Economical Revival and the Birimdik Party, which was formed on 30 December. According to Imanbaev, the first three places in the joint party list of the bloc are occupied by Tchingiz Aitmatov, prominent writer and ambassador; Abdygany Erkebaev, incumbent parliament speaker and chairman of the Social Democratic Party; and Boris Silaev, first vice prime minister.

Imanbaev said 230 candidates have been registered so far, 124 of them for the People's Assembly (upper house) and 106 of them for the Legislative Assembly (lower house) of the parliament. There will be 45 seats in the new upper house and 60 seats in the lower house.

An official of the Ar-Namys Party told RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek on 18 January that party chairman Felix Kulov has been registered at the Kara-Bura (#44) single-mandate constituency in the Talas Oblast.

First Vice Prime Minister Boris Silaev held a news conference in Bishkek on 18 January on situation with natural gas supplies. He said the Director General of the governmental Kyrgyzgas Company Latypjan Sagynbaev and Deputy Director General of the Kyrgyzenergo Company Ilyas Davydov were in Tashkent negotiating with Uzbek officials on increasing gas deliveries to Kyrgyzstan.

According to Silaev, Uzbekistan cut gas supplies from 60,000 cubic meters per hour till 30,000 last week. The Kyrgyz officials will try to cut gas price from $55 per 1,000 cubic meters to $38.

The Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights (KCHR) and the Kyrgyz Glasnost Defense Foundation held a round table discussion on press freedom in Kyrgyzstan and persecution of independent media and journalists in Bishkek on 18 January. The meeting adopted an appeal to President Askar Akayev, asking him to meet with the journalists and discuss the problem.

KCHR chairman Ramazan Dyryldaev told the meeting that the last trial against the opposition "Res Publica" weekly was unjust. The editorial board of another independent paper, "Vecherni Bishkek," was divided last August into two under the pressure from the governmental bodies. Other independent media organizations are also persecuted now (the Asaba weekly, the Piramida TV station were mentioned). The Piramida announced recently it will not make any political programs before the February parliamentary elections.

A presidential administration official told RFE/RL's correspondent in Bishkek on 18 January that some leaders of the El (Bei-Bechara) Party have been offered high government posts and may leave the party before elections. He said parliament deputy Bakyt Beshimov has accepted the post of Kyrgyz ambassador to India, while another party leader, Miroslav Niyazov, has agreed to serve as a deputy minister of national security. He had served as a deputy minister before.

Other leaders of the party - Chairman Daniyar Usenov, founder Melis Eshimkanov, executive chairwoman Alevtina Pronenko and MP Adaham Madumarov - have also been offered posts. Usenov, for example, has turned down the posts of ambassador to Germany and head of administration of the town of Tokmok.

The El (Bei-Bechara) Party was founded in 1995 and is now the second largest party in Kyrgyzstan after the communists. The party has been barred from taking part in the parliamentary election on party list, it sued the Justice Ministry and lost the legal case. President Askar Akaev received some leaders of the party on 5 January.

According to the governmental press service, Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev has appointed Azamat Kangeldiev director of the State Customs Inspection. He had previously been head of the Bishkek City customs inspection. Avazbek Momunkulov was appointed director of the State Tax Inspection. He had worked before at the Bishkek Free Economic Zone. Both state inspections are subordinated to the Finance Ministry.

Deputy director general of the Kyrgyzgas governmental company Toktosun AbduvAliyev confirmed to an RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek on 17 January that natural gas deliveries to multistorey blocks of flats in Bishkek had been stopped due to lack of gas reserves. However, according to Abduvaliev, gas deliveries to consumers in individual houses have not been interrupted. Some areas of the capital city were cut from natural gas deliveries on 15 January due to increased gas needs for the city heating and power station.

AbduvAliyev said his company owes Uzbekistan $200,000 for December 1999 and about $1 million for January 2000, and if it cannot pay the debt, gas supplies from Uzbekistan might be suspended in February. At the same time, individual consumers and enterprises of Kyrgyzstan currently owe Kyrgyzgas 195 million soms (about $4.3 million) for gas. According to Abduvaliev, Kyrgyzgas receives 51,000 cubic meters of gas per hour now from Uzbekistan and uses about 10,000 cubic meters per hour of it for the heating and power station.

The station, which is subordinate to another government company, Kyrgyzenergo, cannot receive natural gas from Uzbekistan itself since last September. Kyrgyzenergo owes Uzbekistan about $11 million for previous deliveries.

At a joint meeting of their respective leaderships in Bishkek on 17 January, the People's Republican Party and the Party to Support the Poor, Agricultural and Industrial Workers agreed to form a new bloc named Manas. A joint party list for the 20 February parliamentary elections has also been drawn up. The first places in the list are occupied by Tashkul Kereksizov, chairman of the State Property Fund; Ilya Bessmertny, director of the cement plant in Kant, and Sanobar Vahapova, director of an industrial enterprise in Osh.

The chairman of the People's Republican Party, parliament deputy Jenishbek Tentiev, and the chairman of the Party to Support the Poor, Agricultural and Industrial Workers, Akbaraly Aitikeev, are on the fourth and fifth places in the list.

The deputy chairman of the Military Court of Kyrgyzstan Dastanbai Aijigitov announced in Bishkek on 17 January that a ruling in the case of the assassination of Yusup Kolbaev will be taken on 24 January. The case opened on 23 November and the seven accused made their final statements on 17 January. All of them said they are innocent and the case had been fabricated.

Kolbaev, head of the Lukoil-Kyrgyzstan Company, was shot dead in front of his house in Bishkek on 21 March 1997. Former colonel of police Talant Duishembiev is accused of organizing the assassination. He had been director of the anti-criminal center at the National Academy of Sciences before his arrest in 1997. Kachan Abdrashitov, a criminal, and Valeri Kurkin, a policeman, are accused of implementing the assassination. The prosecutor has demanded the death sentence for those three people. Four other prisoners, most of them policemen, are are likely to receive sentences of 5 -15 years imprisonment.

An official of the El (Bei-Bechara) Party told RFE/RL's correspondent in Bishkek on 17 January that the Constitutional Court will consider two appeals by the party on 18 and 20 January. The leaders of the party, parliament deputies Daniyar Usenov and Alevtina Pronenko, were barred by local authorities from meeting with their voters in Issyk-Kul province early in 1999. Their case will be considered on 18 January.

Party Melis Eshimkanov and another party leader, parliament deputy Bakyt Beshimov, were fined by a local district court for their unsanctioned meeting with the voters in the Kochkor district of the Naryn province, also in 1999. Their case will be considered on 20 January.

The presidential press service announced in Bishkek on 17 January that President Askar Akaev had signed a special decree dismissing department head in the presidential administration Akazbek Abdrashitov. The Head of the administration of Alamedin district of Chu Oblast, Marat Janybaev, has been appointed in his place.

The head of administration of the Ak-Suu district of Issyk-Kul Oblast, Asan Kydyrgychev, and the head of administration of Manas district of Talas Oblast, Kubanychbek Syidanov have also been dismissed. Syidanov was only appointed to that post 40 days ago.

The Kyrgyzgas government company announced in Bishkek on 15 January that it had stopped gas supplies to the Tunguch, Vostok-5 and some other areas of the capital city due to lack of gas. The company receives from Uzbekistan now 40,000 cubic meters of gas per hour, much less than it needs in the winter period.

The company has begun to use an additional 5,000 cubic meters of gas per hour to warm up the frozen fuel oil for the Bishkek heating and power station. The station stopped using natural gas last week and has been shifted to fuel oil. The director of the station, Lev Vasilyev, announced on 14 January that gas deliveries to the station from neighboring Uzbekistan were stopped last September and they had received gas from the Kyrgyzgas since. But Kyrgyzgas also stopped gas supplies to the station, which is subordinated to the Kyrgyzenergo state company, on 14 January.

A Kyrgyzgas official told RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek on 14 January that Kyrgyzenergo has sold neighboring Kazakhstan about 9 million cubic meters of gas received from Kyrgyzgas. That is why the Kyrgyzgas has stopped sharing natural gas with Kyrgyzenergo. Now, Kyrgyzgas owes Uzbekistan about $200,000 and Kyrgyzenergo owes Uzbekistan about $11 million. According to an official, gas deliveries to the Kyrgyzgas might be stopped in February due to the unpaid debt. Kyrgyz individual consumers owe the Kyrgyzgas now 84 million soms (about $1.8 million) and debt of enterprises is a several billions of som, but the company cannot collect the money due to insolvency of debtors.

Chief editor of the opposition "Res Publica" weekly Zamira Sydykova told RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek on 15 January that the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan the previous day upheld the previous decision of a district court against the paper. According to Sydykova, the paper will now appeal to the Constitutional Court.

A public defender of the paper, Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights Chairman Ramazan Dyryldaev, and all representatives of the paper left the court session earlier on 14 January. They had demanded that Supreme Court Chairman Akynbek TilebAliyev and his deputy Jenish Dosmatov attend the session and rejected Judge Almira Mambetalieva's participation in it. The court had rejected the demands.

About 20 workers of the National Radio and TV Corporation published a letter in the "Res Publica" weekly on 12 January 1999 accusing President of the Corporation Amanbek Karypkulov of corruption. Karypkulov had sued both the weekly and the authors and won the case. The Pervomai district court of Bishkek found the weekly guilty on 31 March 1999 and ruled to pay the fines. The editorial board must pay 200,000 soms (about $6,700 at that time) and 6 authors of the letter must pay Karypkulov 5,000 soms each. The Bishkek City court upheld the ruling on 30 April.

An official of the Agrarian party announced in Bishkek on 15 January that the party has decided to join in a bloc with the Party of Farmers. A 9 candidate joint party list for the 20 February parliamentary elections has also been drawn up. The Number One in it is Akazbek Abdrashitov, department head in the presidential administration. The second and the third places are occupied by Agrarian Party chairman Esengul Aliyev and Farmers' Party chairman Esengul Isakov.