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Kyrgyz Report: April 28, 2000

28 April 2000

About 200 protesters made an attempt to picket the government building in Bishkek the morning of April 28 at about 7 o'clock, local time. Police dispersed it by force. Some participants were delivered by buses to the square near the statue to Maxim Gorky, were the pickets were held before. There are no reports on detentions.

The pickets in Bishkek began on 15 March, three days after the second round of parliamentary elections. The protesters demand to annul the forged results of the elections. Chairman of the opposition Ar-Namys (Dignity) Party Felix Kulov collected the most votes in the first round on 20 February, but was announced lost in the second round. Kylov was arrested on 22 March and the picketers now demand that he be released.

First three weeks, the pickets were held in the center of the city, close to the government building. The city administration decided on 31 March that any pickets should be held on the square near the Gorky Statue. It is also in the center but quite far from the government building. The protesters continued to gather in the center and police dispersed them on 4 April. Since 8 April, the protesters gather every day on the Gorky Square. Usually, 100 to 150 are taking part in the picket.

There was a flood caused by heavy rains in the southern Jalal-Abad province the night of April 26. According to the Ministry of Emergencies, there are no casualties but dozens of houses were damaged.

According to the presidential press service, President Askar Akayev is taking part in the first summit of the Eurasia-2000 Forum in Almaty on 27 April. It was opened by Professor Klaus Schwab, President of the World Economic Forum.

However, only the three presidents of CIS countries, Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia, Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan, are participating. Leaders of the all CIS countries as well as China, India, Japan were invited.

According to the press service, President Akayev will have separate meetings in Almaty with Nazarbayev, Vice Prime Minister of Russia Mikhail Kasyanov, acting director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Charles Franc in addition to the Forum meetings.

About 150 people continued a protest picket in the center of Bishkek on 27 April. They demand the release of the chairman of the opposition Ar-Namys Party Felix Kulov, who was arrested on 22 March, and to annul the forged results of the last parliamentary elections held on 20 February and 12 March.

Participant Fariza Tursunbekova, who came from the Kara-Buura district and who has been taking part in the icket since its beginning on 15 March, told RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek that there are no participants of the picket who are paid by the opposition. Some governmental papers and state officials say that the opposition Ar-Namys Party pays protesters for their participation in the picket.

Governor of the Batken Province Mamat Aibalayev met with the protesters last evening and asked the people who joined the picket coming from Batken to return home. According to Aibalaev, all the issues should be settled through courts. About 40 protesters, who came from the Kadamjai district of Batken, refused to return. They support candidate Nooman Arkabaev who was lost in the Kadamjai constituency.

Economic results of the first quarter of the year 2000 were announced at a governmental meeting held by Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev in Bishkek on 27April.

According to Deputy Finance Minister Kubat Kanimetov, inflation in the first three months of 2000 was 4.5 percent and the gross domestic product increased by 1 percent in January-March, compared with the same period last year. The industrial output decreased by 5 percent and the foreign trade turnout was $221 million, which is 7 percent less than in the first quarter of 1999. Trade turnout with the CIS countries decreased by 18 percent and trade with other foreign countries decreased by 10 percent. Export turnout decreased by 15 percent and import decreased by 1 percent. Production of coal decreased by 5 percent. However, there are slight increases in the light and fuel industries and energetics.

The monthly average salary is now 1,026 som (about $21) and the minimal subsistence level is 1,185 som (about $25) per month. Average unemployment is 3.5 percent, including 4 percent in Bishkek and highest being 5 percent in the Naryn Province.

It was announced at the meeting that the government is holding negotiations with the Uzbek government on transporting water-generated electricity to Tajikistan through Uzbek territory. Also, Kyrgyzstan wants to buy 100,000 metric tons of gas condensate from Turkmenistan in 2000.

Newly appointed director general of the governmental Kyrgyzgas Company Melis Bekkoyonov announced in Bishkek on 27 April that the company now owes the Transgas Company of Uzbekistan $7.5 million for natural gas deliveries. Also, the Kyrgyzgas owes the Intergas Company of Kazakhstan $2.0 million for gas transportation through Kazakh territory. In addition, Kyrgyzgas owes the Kyrgyzenergo Company $3.5 million for electricity.

According to Bekkoyonov, the situation is critical and Vice Prime Minister Esengul OmurAliyev will negotiate soon with Uzbek authorities on further gas supplies. Uzbekistan cuts gas deliveries to Kyrgyzstan several times a year due to unpaid debt.

According to the parliamentary press service, there was no quorum at the session of the parliamentary Legislative Assembly on 27 April. There were only 39 out of the nominal 60 deputies and the session was therefore postponed. Speaker Abdygany Erkebaev announced that he had specially made phone calls to a number of Assembly members asking them to come to the session.

A new political party was registered with the Ministry of Justice on 27 April. It is the Erkindik Party, the founding congress of which was held in Bishkek on 5 February 2000. The party broke away from the Erkin Kyrgyzstan (ErK) Party and according to its Chairman Adyl Kasymov, will continue the policy of the old ErK. The Erkindik Party is the 29th registered party in the country, and 3 more parties have not been registered yet.

The ErK Party was founded by prominent opposition politician Topchubek TurgunAliyev in 1990. Since 1995, it is led by Member of Parliament Tursunbai Bakir Uulu. TurgunAliyev was jailed twice since 1995.

The Coalition of the Non-Governmental Organizations of Kyrgyzstan condemned a decision by the law enforcement bodies to open a criminal case against Jypar Jeksheev, chairman of the opposition Party of Democratic Movement of Kyrgyzstan. He is accused of embezzlement and forgery. According to the Coalition, it is a politically motivated case and if there is a trial against Jeksheev, it will be a very dangerous precedent for the country.

Jeksheev was one of the organizers of the Alga Ltd. company in 1994, and helped its Director General Baktygul Sartova to receive a 3,000-dollar loan. Later, the company was bankrupt, and Sartova cannot repay the loan. However, she is now a member of the Central Election Commission.

Jeksheev was a co-chairman of the Democratic Movement of Kyrgyzstan in 1990-1993. The movement united all the democratic parties and movements of the country. Jeksheev turned the movement into a political party in 1993 and was elected to parliament in 1995. His party was allowed to participate in the last parliamentary elections, but was barred from the elections when it co-opted Felix Kulov into its party list. Jeksheev ran as independent but was announced lost.

The Central Election Commission announced in Bishkek on 26 April that it would hold round table discussions with local election commissions beginning tomorrow. During the discussions, which will last till 20 May, suggestions to change the current Election Code of Kyrgyzstan will be collected and a draft of amendments will be presented to the first session of a working group on amendments to the Code. The session will begin on 2 June.

The Code passed in parliament last year and has been criticized by both opposition and government officials. According to it, only parties registered one year before the date of the parliamentary elections could participate in the elections. Also, several candidates were elected to parliament last February-March, collecting only about 10 percent of votes due to the fact that their contenders were disqualified between the first and second rounds and even after the elections. The working group was formed by a President Akayev's decree on 6 April.

The Vecherni Bishkek daily carried in its 26 April edition an interview with General Abdygul Chotbaev, who was elected to the new parliament on 20 February. He says in the interview that he may lay down his deputy authority because a lot of politicians, who think they have been ill-treated and offended by the government, are gathered in parliament and he cannot work with them. Also, according to Chotbaev, the deputies who were members of the old parliament make the main decisions in the new parliament and it is similar to the so-called "dedovshchina" bad habit in the Soviet army.

The paper says that Chotbayev handed his statement of resignation to the Central Election Commission (CEC) on 25 April. However, an official of the CEC told RFE/RL correspondent on 26 April that they have not received any statement from Chotbaev yet. Member of Parliament Adaham Madumarov announced on 26 April that the Chotbaev's case approves that a lot of people have been elected to parliament incidentally.

General Chotbayev, Commander of the National Guards, was elected from the Party of Afghan War Veterans and was the Number One in the party list. However, there was a scandal in the party late in February, because its other members were again Chotbaev representing the party in parliament. The party won the 2 seats in the parliamentary Legislative Assembly.

The People's Assembly, upper house of Kyrgyz parliament, ended its first session on 26 April. It began on 18 April and the next session is scheduled for June. 45 out of 105 seats in parliament belong to the People's Assembly.

The Assembly approved on 25 April some appointments that were made by President Askar Akayev recently. Chubak Abyshkaev has been appointed Prosecutor General of Kyrgyzstan, Kurmanbek Joroev is approved as a member of the CIS Economical Court from Kyrgyzstan. Also, the Assembly appointed Abdykadyr Sultanbaev head of the Assembly administration.

The Military Court of Kyrgyzstan began on 26 April to consider the appeals of the three people who were convicted of organizing and implementing the assassination of businessman Yusup Kolbaev. All the three say they had no connection to the assassination. Kolbaev, head of the Lukoil-Kyrgyzstan Company, was shot dead in front of his house in Bishkek on 21 March 1997.

Taalai Beishembiev, Vyacheslav Abdrashitov (Kachan) and Valeri Kurkin were sentenced to death by the same Military Court on 24 January. Former colonel of police Duishembiev was convicted of organizing the assassination. He had been director of the anti-criminal center at the National Academy of Sciences before the arrest in 1997. Abdrashitov, a criminal, and Kurkin, a policeman, were convicted of implementing the assassination.

The Moscow based Vremya MN daily carries in its 26 April edition an article on Islamic extremism in Southern Kyrgyzstan. According to author Anvar Bakeev, influence of the Uzbek "Hizbut-Tahrir" extremist organization is very high in southern Kyrgyzstan and even Kyrgyz state officials are afraid of Islamic organizations. Also, hundreds of leaflets of the "Hizbut-Tahrir" were found recently in the southern town of Jalal-Abad.