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Kyrgyz Report: June 30, 2000

30 June 2000

The closed trial of opposition Ar-Namys party chairman and fomer Vice President of Kyrgyzstan Feliks Kulov got underway at the Bishkek Military Court on the morning of 27 June. Bishkek Military Court Deputy Chairman Nurlan Ashyrbekov is the presiding judge. Three former members of the anti-terror center "Kalkan" (Shield) are in the dock together with Kulov. Only witnesses and the defendants' lawyers and witnesses are allowed to attend. Kulov's wife was not allowed to attend the session, nor were the staff of the OSCE Bishkek office or a representative of the New York-based International League for Human Rights (ILHR), Dildebek Bekmanov. About 150 people, including parliament deputies, opposition party activists and journalists picketed the court building protesting the trial. Mounted police kept order on the streets.

Kulov's lawyer Lyubov Ivanova told RFE/RL the accusations against Kulov are those made at the time of his arrest on 22 March: 1) abuse of power, illegal bugging and selling weapon cheaper than its real price when he was the minister of national security several years ago. 2) using his office for personal gain; 3) condoing illegal actions and 4) forgery, when Kulov was the minister of national security several years ago. Ivanova said none of those accusations was enough to arrest Kulov and there are no serious grounds for a closed court session.

Ivanova had told RFE/RL on 22 June that the reason given for trying Kulov behind closed doors, that the case against him involves state secrets, is untenable as the Kyrgyz state media have reported in considerable detail on the case."Even a non-jurist understands that the case is linked with Kulov's personality and not with any crime that he has committed," she said.

On 28 June, Judge Ashyrkulov rejected eight requests by Kulov's defense, including that international observers be permitted to attend the trial and the Kyrgyzstan's President Askar Akaev be summoned as a witness.

On 29 June, Kulov's lawyers formally expressed their lack of confidence in Ashyrkulov and demanded that he be replaced. That request was refused.

Also on 29 June, parliament deputy Dooronbek Sadyrbaev refused to testify as a witness for the prosecution. He rejected as untrue the prosecution's claim that Kulov had subjected him to harassment.

Cathy Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of the New York-based International League for Human Rights, on 20 June wrote to Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev asking him to intervene in Kulov's case and ensure an open trial to domestic and international observers would be admitted, that Kulov be releaed on bail pending trial, and that he be permitted to retain a Russian defense lawyer.

Fitzpatrick writes: "In the present case, it is clear that no bona fide state secrets are implicated by the charges against Mr. Kulov." "Examination of the facts and circumstances surrounding the case suggest that the prosecution of Mr. Kulov has been undertaken for transparently political purposes, to-wit: the disqualification of Mr. Kulov as a candidate in the presidential elections", she concluded.

The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) on19 June released an open letter to President Askar Akaev containing severe criticism of the current political situation in Kyrgyzstan. The letter notes that a number of opposition parties and individual candidates were barred from the last parliamentary elections and even candidates, who won in the elections, were disqualified. The main opposition figures, Feliks Kulov and Daniyar Usenov, were arrested and Usenov was received a suspended prison term which the FIDH believes was intended solely to exclude Usenov from the forthcoming presidential elections.

The FIDH urges President Akaev to take appropriate measures to improve the situation and to ensure that the presidential elections are fair and lawful.

According to the Moscow based Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, the US society American Friends of the Kyrgyz People has denounced Kulov's trial in a letter sent to President Akaev on 27 June. The letter said "the blatant political nature of the proceedings against Kulov, deprivation of effective assistance of counsel and unsubstantiated charges make a mockery of the Kyrgyz constitution and legal system" and "As President of your country you are responsible personally as both guarantor and guardian of your countrymen's constitutional rights."

On 23 June Russian State Duma deputy V. Igrunov sent telegrams to President Akaev and the chairman of the Bishkek Military Court asking Akaev to release Kulov pending trial and ensure that he receives a fair trial. Igrunov also asked that Russian lawyers and international observers be allowed to attend the trial.

On 21 June, the Moscow paper "Rossiiskie vesti" published an article on Kulov's case suggesting that the real reason for Kulov's arrest was that he knows too much about how President Akaev's family controls the country.

The picket that began in Kulov's constituency of Kara-Buura on 13 March and in Bishkek two days later to demand the annulment of the parliamentary elections results continues, and later to demand Kulov's release, are continuing. Participants marked the 100th day since the beginning of the Kara-Buura picket on 22 June.

On 26 June, the leaders of Kyrgyzstan's five main political parties held a news conference in Bishkek at which they distributed a joint appeal claiming that the criminal case against Kulov was fabricated and noting that the Kyrgyz leadership has ignored appeals on Kulov's behalf by the Russian State Duma, U.S. State Secretary Madeleine Albright, and OSCE Secretary General Jan Kubis. They said the reason Kulov's trial will be a closed one is to hide the absence of any substantive accusations against him. The appeal is signed by founder of the El Party Melis Eshimkanov, founder of the Kairan El Party Dooronbek Sadyrbaev, chairman of the Republican Party Giyaz Tokombaev, founder of the Party of Democratic Movement of Kyrgyzstan Jypar Jeksheev and member of the board of the Ar-Namys Party Omurbek Subanaliev.

Meeting on 27 June, the People's Assembly (upper house) of Kyrgyzstan's parliament scheduled the next presidential election for 29 October. Incumbent President Askar Akaev's term expires on 30 December, and the election must be held not later than two months before that. Akaev is expected to announce on 30 June whether he will run for a further presidential term. Akaev was elected by the then Kirghiz SSR Supreme Soviet in 1990, then he won nationwide elections in 1991 and 1995. The constitution forbids a third term for president, but the Constitutional Court ruled in 1998 that Akayev has the right to run for presidential office again because the new constitution was adopted only in 1993.

Central Election Commission Sulaiman Imanbaev announced in Bishkek the same day that the deadline for nominating candidates is 14 September and for registration -- 24 September.

The Central Election Commission decided on 28 June to form a special seven-member commission charged with setting written and spoken examinations in the Kyrgyz language for potential presidential candidates.

On 29 June, picketers in Bishkek formally nominated Feliks Kulov as a presidential candidate. El party chairman Daniyar Usenov Democratic Women's Party chairwoman Tokon Shailieva had earlier announced their intention to contend the poll.

On 28 June, parliamentary Legislative Assembly deputy speaker Omurbek Tekebaev announced that he would run for presidential office. He was registered as presidential candidate in 1995 too, but a court barred him from the election just 11 days before the election date. Tekebaev is founder and chairman of the moderate opposition Ata-Meken (Fatherland) Party.

Also on 28 June, opposition Social-Democratic Pary chairman Almaz Atambaev and Agrarian-Labor Party acting chairman Dosbol Nur Uulu were nominated as presidential candidates.

Kairan-El (Unfortunate People) Party founder Dooronbek Sadyrbaev told a news conference in Bishkek on 26 June that the party had decided two days earlier to switch from its moderate opposition position to a more radical stance vis-a-vis the authorities. He said that decision was a direct response to the Kyrgyz authorities' oppression of Feliks Kulov.

A large group of Kyrgyz journalists have appealed to Chairman of the Jalal-Abad Oblast Court J. Abdakhmanov to reconsider a court ruling against journalist Moldosaly Ibraimov. On 19 June Jalal-Abad regional court judge Jusup Sulaimanov sentenced Ibraimov to two years imprisonment fined him 107,000-som (about $2,200) for having insulted Suzak district court judge Toktosun Kasymbekov. On 8 April, Ibraimov had published in the local "Akyikat" (Justice) paper an article saying that Kasymbekov was rumored to have accepted a $15,000 bribe for ruling in favor of a specific parliament candidate who contested the poll outcome.

The New York based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Chairman of the Jalal-Abad based Spravedlivost human rights organization V. Gritsenko have written to Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev protesting Ibraimov's imprisonment.

According to the Moscow based Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, several Russian and Ukrainian journalistic and human rights organizations also sent letters of support for Ibraimov.

On 27 June, Kuban Mambetaliev, chairman of the "Journalists" public association, wrote to President Akaev in Ibraimov's defense. MambetAliyev also called on Akaev to help "restore a normal atmosphere" in Jalalabad Oblast.

On 28 June, a human rights activist from Jalal-Abad, Cholponai Ergesheva, told RFE/RL that Ibraimov was jailed out of pure revenge. He had written several articles on corruption among judges and was detained for 5 days in 1996. After his release, he sued the local officials who arrested him, but the case has not reached court yet.

The trial of ethnic Uzbek Hakimjon Husanov, who is chief editor of the Uzbek-language Mezon TV local station in Osh, resumed on 22 June at the Osh City court. At the first session on 3 June Husanov was accused of stirring inter-ethnic hatred on the basis of a video clip in favor of parliamentary candidate Davron Sobirov, also an ethnic Uzbek, who was elected to Kyrgyz parliament last March. The clip was shot at Mezon TV with the participation of actors from the Uzbek Theater in Osh and was aired via Osh TV station on 2 and 3 February. It shows several people attacking a peasant and stealing his food. The voiceover in Uzbek and Russian says: "If you do not vote for Davron Sobirov, something like this could happen to you too".

According to plaintiffs Orozbaev, Kamchybekov and Ergashev, the clip stirs inter-ethnic hatred because the robbers were in Kyrgyz clothes and the peasant wore Uzbek clothes. Husanov and the actors of the Uzbek Theater told the court session on 20 June that it is not possible to distinguish Kyrgyz from Uzbeks living in Ferghana Valley by their dress, and the author and performers had no intention of inciting ethnic tensions.

The trial was adjourned until 22 June. and then again postponed.

State Secretary Naken Kasiev, UNDP representative to Kyrgyzstan Anne Sharneklint and World Bank representative Mahinder Muhadar held a joint news conference in Bishkek on 29 June. Kasiev is the national director of the UNDP program against poverty. He told the meeting that 27 districts and 87 towns of the country are involved in the program and that poverty will be defeated in Kyrgyzstan soon. 55 million soms (about $1.2 million) is allotted to the program, which was put into effect in June 1998.

Anne Sharneklint told journalists that the UNDP program to reform the administrative system of the country has also been a success. The national director of the program is head of the presidential administration Misir Ashyrkulov.

Mahinder Muhadar told the meeting that the World Bank has spent $600 million on programs in Kyrgyzstan, of which five have been successfully implemented, 19 are in operation and four more are in preparation.

A session of the People's Assembly, the upper parliamentary house, on 28 June sent a report by the National Bank on its activities in 1999 to its corresponding committees for study. National Bank chairman Ulan Sarbanov reported to the house on 28 June. Parliamentary committee chairman Shamshybek Medetbekov proposed ruling the bank's activities unsatisfactory.

Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev reported on 28 June to a session of the parliamentary Legislative Assembly (lower house) on the government activity in 1999. He said that after the financial crisis in 1998 and rebel crisis in 1999, the government has concentrated on stabilizing the country's economy and defending its southern frontiers. According to him, Kyrgyzstan's GDP increased by 3.4 percent in the first 5 months of 2000. Also, a special southern group of defense forces has been established and 3 border units and 23 border posts have been formed. MurAliyev also said Kyrgyzstan has received from Turkey, Russia and China an 80-million-som military help since the last year crisis.

A report by the government submitted to the parliament on 28 June says that Kyrgyzstan is ready to delimitate and demarcate its state frontiers with neighboring Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. According to the eport, Kyrgyzstan has about 140 disputable sites along the 1,300-kilometer-long border with Uzbekistan and about 70 such sites along the 990-km-long border with Tajikistan. Two meetings of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek commission on border delimitation were held earlier this year. A special commission of Kyrgyz government on Kyrgyz-Tajik borders was formed earlier this month.

The report says that Uzbekistan currently leases about 2,600 hectares of Kyrgyz territory and Kyrgyzstan leases about 1,400 hectares of Uzbek territory. Tajikistan leases about 1,750 hectares of Kyrgyz territory and Kyrgyzstan leases about 450 hectares of Tajik territory.

The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry announced on 27 June that Minister Muratbek ImanAliyev is now in Malaysia taking part in a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference, held in Kuala-Lumpur on 27-30 June.

First Vice Prime Minister Boris Silaev held a meeting with rectors of Kyrgyz universities and institutes on 27 June at which it was announced that there will be about 70,000 entrants this year, of whom only about 5,000 will receive state grants. Fifty Kyrgyz student will go to study in Russian universities and institutes and an additional 25 people will go to study in Kazakhstan.

The presidential press service announced on 27 June that President Askar Akaev appointed presidential administration official Nurlan Aitmurzaev to head the Pervomai district administration in Bishkek. The former head of the district, Bekjan Asanov, was dismissed on 24 May without explanations.

A five-day international conference 'Kyrgyzstan National Security in the 21st Century - Lessons and Perspectives' began in Bishkek on 26 June. It is sponsored by the International Institute for Strategic Studies under the President of Kyrgyzstan and the George Marshall Center based in Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany. The conference will assess Kyrgyzstan's national security by examining the current status of the political, economic and military situation and will look at non-traditional threats to the country. It is expected that participants will generate recommendations for actions by government organizations and non-government bodies to move the country in the direction of stability. Members of parliament, government officials, local and foreign experts are participating.

Staff members of the governmental commission on fighting drug trafficking held a news conference in Bishkek on 27 June at which commission department head Almaz Garifulin said law enforcement bodies havealready confiscated 70 kgs of heroin in 2000, whereas only 26 kgs of heroin was seized in the whole of last year. According to Garifulin, Kyrgyz law enforcement bodies are able to seize only about 10 percent of the drugs transported through Kyrgyz territory. Garifulin also said the price of heroin brought to Kyrgyzstan from Afghanistan and Tajikistan is very low. According to Garifulin, there are about 6,000 registered drug addicts in Kyrgyzstan but the real figure is higher more than 10 times.

President Askar Akaev held a meeting of law enforcement bodies in Bishkek on 25 June at which he harshly criticized law enforcement officials for their inability to restrain economical and organized crime and for lack of principles. Akaev said that 14 high government officials have been arrested in Kyrgyzstan recently, but their guilt was not proved.

A Foreign Ministry told RFE/RL correspondents in Bishkek on 25 June that Minister Murat ImanAliyev will not go to Warsaw to participate in a ministerial meeting in frame of the first World Forum on Democracy, organized by Freedom House and the Stefan Batory Foundation on 25-27 June. The chairwoman of the Coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations of Kyrgyzstan Tolekan Ismailova and President of the Association of Kyrgyz Jurists Marat Kaiypov will represent Kyrgyzstan at the Forum. The US Helsinki Commission demanded early in June that Kyrgyz government officials should not be invited to the Warsaw Forum because of the most recent government actions against opposition, especially Kulov's arrest.

Gulzar Namatbekova of the pro-governmental Ai-Danek non-governmental organization told RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek on 23 June, that the Justice Ministry had registered the new Association of Non-Governmental Organizations. The Association has been founded by the Ai-Danek and the Vox Populi Center in Bishkek. According to Namatbekova, the new Association is ready to cooperate with the Coalition of Non-Governmental Oragizations, which unites most of NGOs of the country.

The NGO Coalition has criticized the government severely for recent arrests of opposition politicians and irregularities during the last parliamentary elections and the Kyrgyz leadership has organized a pro-governmental NGO Association. It is registered very quickly and the Justice Ministry does not register some opposition organizations for years.

The Coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations announced in Bishkek on 27 June that a national conference of non-governmental organizations will be held on 10-11 July to discuss the current situation in the non-governmental sector. About 170 leaders of NGOs will participate. Organizers of the conference are the Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights, the Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law, the International Center "Interbilim", the Anti-Crisis Center "Sezim" and others.

President Askar Akaev criticized the director general of the Kyrgyzgas governmental company, Melis Bekkoyonov, at a 23 June meeting of law enforcement bodies. According to Akaev, Bekkoyonov is responsible for the increased debts of the company: the debit debt is 800 million soms (about $17 million) and the credit debt is about 1.5 million soms. Bekkoyonov was appointed head of Kyrgyzgas last April.

The board of the Bishkek City Court late on 22 June upheld a ruling against businessman and opposition politician Daniyar Usenov, but cut his suspended sentence by one year.

A Bishkek district court sentenced Usenov to 3 years of suspended imprisonment on 16 May, on charges of beating a businessman in 1994. Usenov told an RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek on 23 June that he will appeal to the Supreme Court.

The case was closed last fall but prosecutors reopened it on the eve of the parliamentary elections, which Usenov was therefore barred from contesting. After the elections, the same Bishkek City Court acquitted him orally, but ruled that the results of the elections should not be changed (see "RFE/RL Kyrgyz report," 20 June 2000).

According to the Interior Ministry, abducted Chinese citizen Khairullo Imin has not been found yet. He was taken hostage along the highway between the southern Osh City and the town of Kara-Suu on 20 June by 3 people in military uniforms. According to unofficial reports, the criminals demand a $150,000 ransom for his release (see "RFE/RL Kyrgyz Report," 20 June 2000).

The Bishkek city administration announced on 23 June that the Iranian Keisson Company has won an international tender to repair the city streets and roads. The government will allocate $4 million from a loan given Kyrgyzstan from the World Bank to fund that project.

The speaker of the parliamentary People's Assembly, Altai Borubaev, announced in Bishkek on 23 June that Yrys Osmonalieva has been appointed head of the Assembly's press service. She replaced Jyldyz Bugubaeva, who is founding now the "Liberalnaya Gazeta" paper. Bugubaeva was appointed on 22 May.

Russian Minister for Nuclear Power Yevgenii Adamov and Kyrgyz Defense Minister Esen Topoev signed an agreement in Bishkek on 22 June on cooperation in modernization the border guarding in Kyrgyzstan. The Russian delegation later met with Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev to discuss cooperation in fighting international terrorism. The delegation visited also the Janar Company in Bishkek and the Kara-Balta mining complex.

Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev a delegation of the Asian Development Bank, led by John Austin in Bishkek on 22 June. Implementation of projects,financed by ADB was discussed. MurAliyev mentioned during the meeting that 18 percent of the all-foreign loans received by Kyrgyzstan have been given by the ADB.

The Director of the State Center on Demography and Migration Cholponkul Arabaev told RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek on 22 June that 1,680 ethnic Kyrgyz currently living in Afghanistan will be moved to Kyrgyzstan soon. They will be settled in the Chong-Alai district of the Osh Province. According to Arabaev, about 1,500 ethnic Kyrgyz in Turkey could also been moved to Kyrgyzstan.

The first meeting of national coordinators of the Shanghai-Five group began in Bishkek on 21 June to prepare documents to the next Shanghai Five summit to be held in Dushanbe on 4-5 July. First Deputy Foreign Minister Erlan Abdyldaev took part in the meeting.

A three-day international conference on preparations for the next exercises of the Central Asian Battalion began in Bishkek on 21 June. Representatives of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Great Britain, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia, Turkey, the United States and Uzbekistan are participating. It was decided today to locate the headquarters of the battalion in Almaty, Kazakhstan.The exercises will begin in Kazakhstan in September. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan formed the battalion in 1997.

The Pervomai district court of Bishkek on 21 June upheld a decision taken by the Central Election Commission (CEC) on 12 April, The CEC rejected an appeal by candidate Kulupa Juzumalieva, and her contender Juman Akkuluev will be now found elected to the parliamentarian People's Assembly (upper house) from the Jeti-Oguz constituency.