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Kyrgyz Report: April 27, 1999

27 April 1999

Mayor of Bishkek Felix Kulov announced his resignation on 27 April. He held a news conference on his resignation in Bishkek on the same day. The text of his short appeal on his resignation to President Askar Akayev is published was in the independent Asaba weekly also on 27 April. The Vecherni Bishkek daily carries in its 27 April edition a large article on Kulov�s resignation, written by his spokeswoman Asel Otorbaeva. President Akayev�s press secretary Kanybek Imanalyev also held a news conference in Bishkek on 27 April concerning Kulov.

Kulov writes in his appeal to President Askar Akayev: �I cannot work further under your leadership, because through your connivance there are actions [in the country] which do not correspond to democracy and rule of law. I deeply believe the events which had happened in our history before - searching for enemies and opponents and liquidation of them - are being repeated in our country in a renewed form. It is obvious there are actions to form a public opinion that I have been one of the main organizers to owerthrow you through unconstitutional measures and that I have been one of the biggest corruptionists in the country�.

The appeal was dated �24 April 1999� and Kulov told journalists on 27 April that he tried to meet President Akayev last Saturday and was not received. Then he tried to meet the president on Monday too, but was not received again and had to send his appeal by mail in the evening of 26 April. According to Kulov, he wanted to meet Security Minister Misir Ashirkulov and Prosecutor General Asanbek SharshenAliyev and discuss the issue, but all his attempts failed last week.

Kulov told the news conference today he wanted to keep his good name. According to him, the Security Ministry accuses him of preparing a coup by forming the Kalkan anti-terrorist squad when he had been the Minister of National Security until March 1998. Commander of the Kalkan, Major Janybek Bakhchiev, has been arrested recently. According to Kulov, all the questions at the ministry had been considered resolved together with his First Deputy Misir Ashirkulov, a close friend of President Askar Akayev, who succeeded Kulov and is now Minister of National Security.

Kulov also said he has nothing against President Akayev personally. Kulov added he would learn the Kyrgyz language more properly now, because according to Kyrgyz law, any person who wants to be elected president must write and speak Kyrgyz fluently. But he avoided answering whether he would run for the presidency in 2000. Kulov said he had to promise President Akayev before to speak and write in Russian only, because if he speaks Kyrgyz, everybody would say he would run for the presidency.

Press secretary for President Akayev, Kanybek Imanaliev, held the other news conference in Bishkek on 27 April. According to him, President Akayev accepted Kulov�s resignation on 26 April and he signed a special decree on the resignation the same day. Kulov�s first deputy, Medet Kerimkulov, has been appointed acting Mayor of Bishkek. Also, Akayev has asked Prosecutor General Asanbek SharshenAliyev to check the allegations mentioned in Kulov�s appeal.

According to Imanaliev, Kulov has failed to be a good economic executive manager, being the mayor of the capital city, and now wants to turn to pure politics. It is too easy a way now and it is safe, ImanAliyev said. According to him, there are no concrete facts on the suppression to Kulov in his appeal.

Felix Kulov, 51, graduated from the Academy of the USSR Internal Ministry in Karaganda, Kazakhstan. He was the Minister of Internal Affairs in 1991 and played a key role in protecting Kyrgyz independence during the August putch in 1991. People called him �People�s General�. Then he was elected Vice President of Kyrgyzstan and resigned in December 1993, protesting curruption in the Government. As a result, the Prime Minister at that time, Tursunbek Chyngyshev had to resign the same month. After that,, Kulov was appointed Governor of the Chu region. In 1996, President Akayev wanted to appoint him governor of the largest Osh region and Kulov said goodbay to his staff officially, but Amangeldi MurAliyev (who is the prime minister now) was appointed the governor of Osh Region at last the moment. After that, Kulov was appointed Minister of National Security and had to resign in March 1998.

An anonymous member of parliament told our correspondent in Bishkek today that a special package of equipment to bug state officials was bought from Russia for $60,000 when Kulov was the Security Minister. Part of this equipment had not been registered with the Ministry and part had been given to the security service of the president.

President�s press secretary Kanybek ImanAliyev announced in Bishkek on 27 April that President Askar Akayev had signed a special decree appointing Medet Sadyrkulov head of the presidential administration. The post had been vacant since last December. Sadyrkulov, 46, had been Director of the State Tax Inspection and the First Deputy Finance Minister before. He graduated from the history department of Kyrgyz National University, then worked as a head of the district administration in Bishkek. He was born in the Kemin district, home district of President Askar Akayev.

The parliamentary People's Assembly decided today to form a special commission on privatization of the three enterprises in the country: the silk factory in Osh, the sugar refinery in Kaindy and the Ai-Churek departmnet store in Bishkek. Parliamentary committee chairman Absamat MasAliyev blamed the government yesterday of selling state property for next to nothing.

According to the parliamentary press service, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Usup Mukambaev received in Bishkek on 27 April Viktor Bogatyr, Ukrainian Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan. Bilateral relations between Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine were discussed. Bogatyr told Mukambaev that the Ukrainian Government has decided recently to increase trade turnover with Kyrgyzstan up to $50 million in a year.

The presidential press service announced in Bishkek on 27 April that President Askar Akayev had signed a special decree appointing Imanberdi Jalilov head of the Osh-3000 television and radio company, set up by presidential decree on 24 April. Jalilov had been head of the Osh branch of the Ministry of National Security before. The company will cover preparations to and events during the celebration of the 3,000th anniversary of the city of Osh, to be marked in the year 2000.

The parliamentary People�s Assembly began to discuss the issue of corruption on 26 April. Leaders of the law-enforcement governmental bodies and the Prosecutor General attended.

Parliamentary committee chairman Absamat MasAliyev delivered a report on the issue. He blamed the government for selling state property for next to nothing. According to him, the 666-million-som-worth silk factory in Osh was sold for 1.9 million soms only ($1 = 35 soms now). The 60.9 % of state shares of the sugar refinery in the town of Kaindy have been sold for 28 million som only (about $800,000). The annual profit of the refinery was 50 million soms in 1998. According to Masaliev, only two companies took part in a tender to buy the refinery and both of them had been founded by the same person, a citizen of Kazakhstan. Also, 26.2 % of state shares of the biggest department store in the country, Ai-Churek, have been sold for 3.9 million soms only (about $110,000).

Interior Minister General Omurbek Kutuev told the session on 26 April that investigations against detained several deputy ministers have been over and they would be tried soon. Security Minister Misir Ashirkulov told the session investigations on activity of the Swiss Andre firm in Kyrgyzstan and against the Vostok oil company are under way still. The Interior and Security ministries arrested earlier this year several deputy ministers and forme ministers, accusing them of corruption or embezzlement. Answering questions by parliamentarians, Ashirkulov admitted his ministry had used bug devices against state official, but rejected to say who had given permission for it.

Prosecutor General Asanbek SharshenAliyev accused parliamentarians of corrruption at the session. According to him, 8 members of parliament have made 188-million-som damage to the state budget. 145 million soms of it have already been returned.

The editorial board of the independent "Asaba" weekly announced in Bishkek on 26 April its office was damaged during the night from 24 - 25 April. The office is situated on the 3th floor and somebody came in it without damaging any lock. Nothing was stolen, but all the papers in the office were rummaged. Some archive materials in the computer files, being protected by passwords, were erased.

The owner of the paper, Chairman of the Bei-Bechara party Melis Eshimkanov, told our correspondent in Bishkek today the action could be politically motivated. He said also, it could be done by some businessmen too. In any case, they were high professionals, Eshimkanov said.

"Asaba" is one of the two main opposition papers (along with the Res Publica weekly) in the country. Last year, the editorial board of the Asaba was evicted from the office in the center of Bishkek, which the Asaba had used for more than 30 years.

Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission Sulaiman Imanbaev announced in Bishkek on 26 April that the parliamentary Legislative Assembly has passed the Election Code prepared by the government in first reading. According to Imanbaev, a special conciliatory commission. formed by the government and parliament, will consider the Code in May. According to the Code, 25 percent (15 out of total 60) of members of the Legislative Assembly should be elected on party lists.

Imanbaev also announced dates of forthcoming elections. According to him, the next local elections will be held in Kyrgyzstan in October. The next parliamentary elections and elections to the regional assemblies will be held on 23 March 2000. The next presidential election is planned to be held in the fall of 2000.

According to information from the Kyrgyz Commitee for Human Rights, Executive Director of the Helsinki Federation Aron Rodes arrived in Bishkek on 25 April. He will hold meetings with state officials and reppresentatives of the non-governmental organizations, as well as with prisoners of conscience.

Presidential press secretary Kanybek ImanAliyev announced in Bishkek today that President Askar Akayev signed a special decree on 24 April setting up the governmental Osh-3000 television and radio company on the base of the Osh regional TV. Its head has not been appointed yet.

The company will cover preparations to and events during the celebration of the 3,000th anniversary of the city of Osh, to be marked in 2000.

Member of Parliament Jamin Akimakiev, Rector of the Acricultural Academy in Bishkek criticised a World Bank sponsored governmental project on sheep-breeding at the parliamentary session on 23 April. According to him, the World Bank has given $17 million for the project, and the Ministry of Agriculture has bought 290 rams from Australia for $3,000 each. But the rams have begun to die in Kyrgyz natural conditions. An official from the Ministry of Agriculture told our correspondent on 24 April it is too early to make any conclusions on failure of the project.

The director of the analytical center at the State Commission on Youth and Women, Vyacheslav Hamisov, announced in Bishkek on 24 April a seminar on youth problems will begin in Bishkek on 26 April. Government officials, parliamentarians, scholars and other experts will take part. Several law drafts on youth, prepared by the government recently, will be discussed.

An anonymous official from the government told our correspondent in Bishkek on 24 April that Medet Sadyrkulov, Director of the State Tax Inspection, could be appointed chief of the presidential administration soon. According to him, Sadyrkulov could also become a state secretary, replacing Ishenbai Abdurazakov, because the posts of presidential chief-of-staff and state secretary could be merged.

Former chief of the presidential staff, Omar Sultanov, was sacked last December and nobody has been appointed to the post yet. Sultanov was appointed on 17 April as the head of the Kyrgyz Mission in Geneva, replacing Erkin Makeev.