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Kyrgyz Report: May 7, 1999

7 May 1999

President Askar Akayev held a meeting of the heads of the Aksakal Courts. About the 400 aksakals took part in the meeting as well as Prime Minister Amangeldi Muraliev, the speakers of the two parliamentary houses, Usup Mukambaev and Abdygany Erkebaev, and Chairwoman of the Consitutional Court, Cholpon Baekova attended.

Akayev said the aksakal courts play an important role in the judicial system of the country and that they should expand their activities and take part not only in resolving local issues. They should participate in youth upbringing, strengthening public order and planting greenary. According to the President, a new package of legislation on local governments and aksakal courts will be worked out soon.

According to Clause 85 of the current constitution, local communities have the right to establish the so called Aksakal Courts (courts of elderly people), which can make decisions on local matters. Some aksakal courts had issued decisions on death penalties in recent years and their decisions were implemented immediately. International and local human rights organizations have severely criticized the Kyrgyz leadership for it.

OSCE delegation, led by Director of the OSCE Bureau on democratic institutions and human rights, Gerard Stodman, was received in Bishkek on 7 May by President Askar Akayev. Foreign Minister Muratbek Imanaliev, Chairwoman of the Constitutional Court Cholpon Baekova also attended. The human rights situation in Kyrgyzstan, preparations for the parliamentary and presidential elections, to be held in 2000, and reforms of the electoral and judicial systems in the country were discussed.

A delegation led by Director of the Central Asian and Caucasus Institute of the John Hopkins University Frederick Starr met in Bishkek on 7 May with State Secretary Ishenbai Abdurazakov, Member of Parliament Turdakun Usubaliev, Deputy Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Kalnur Ormushev, and department head in the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resourses Alexander Kostyuk. Problems of joint use of water resources in Central Asia were discussed.

According to the parliamentary press service, a delegation of British Parliament led by Douglas McAdam will arrive in Kyrgyzstan on11 May. They will meet with President Askar Akayev, the speakers of the two parliamentary houses, and the minister of foreign affairs. Cooperation between the parliaments of Kyrgyzstan and Great Britain as well as the political situation in Central Asia will be discussed.

According to the parliamentary press service, Speaker of the parliamentary Legislative Assembly Usup Mukambaev received in Bishkek on 7 May the delegation of the Saskachevan province of Canada led by Tim Marshall. Cooperation between Canada and Kyrgyzstan in agriculture, tourism and energetics was discussed. In August 1999, an egreement on cooperation between the governments of Canada and Kyrgyzstan would be signed.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture held a meeting in Bishkek on 7 May with members of parliament and rectors of universities and institutes. Specialist in education from the Asian Development Bank, Jan de Groove, took part in the meeting. Reforms in educational system were discussed.

According to the governmental press service, a special governmental commission is now inspecting the activities of the Kyrgyzstaltyn state gold company. There are representatives of the 19 governmental bodies in the 34-member commission.

The Kyrgyzaltyn released in Bishkek on 7 May a large report on the results of its recent activities. According to this, 122.9-million-dollar foreign investements were made in the Kyrgyz economy in 1994-1996 and $47.5 million was given to the state budget from the gold industry in 1997-1998.

The Kyrgyzaltyn develops the Kumtor gold deposit in the Issyk-Kul region together with the Canadian Cameco corporation. The joint-venture produces about 20 metric tons of gold yearly. Kumtor is one of the biggest gold deposits in the world. There are about 700 tons of gold in it.

Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev held a governmental meeting in Bishkek on 6 May devoted to implementation of the state budget. MurAliyev said the financial-economical situation in the country has never been as serious as it is now. According to him, the government is not able to pay 500-million-som (about $14 million) in back payments. Also, there is no repayment of the 7,000-million-som (about $200 million) state loans, given to different enterprises in the country.

Finance Minister Marat Sultanov reported to the meeting that state revenues in 1998 were 5,094 million soms (about $145 million) or 88.7 per cent of what was planned. State expenditures were 6,128 million soms (about $175 million) in 1998, which is equal to 89.5 per cent of the planned sum.

According to the minister, industrial output declined in 1998 by 39.7 percent compared to that of 1997. Decline of the agricultural output was 12 percent and decline in construction - 48 percent, compared to 1997. Sultanov said the country could not get some planned loans and grants from abroad. Also, revenues from privatization in 1998 was less than planned.

However, Sultanov said there was some increase in the first quarter of 1999. According to him, industrial growth was 0.3 percent in January-March 1999, compared to the same period of 1998. Increase in agriculture was 4.0 percent, in construction - 27.0 percent in the first quarter. Output in light industry declined by 34.6 percent in January-March 1999. Inflation in January-March was 7.9 percent. Also, balance of trade was negative: import turnover was $94.6 million and export was $74.7 million.

MurAliyev has concluded the results are unsatisfactory. MurAliyev was appointed prime minister on 12 April 1999.

According to the representative office of the International Monetary Fund in Kyrgyzstan, an IMF delegation arrived in Bishkek on 6 May. They will meet Finance Minister Marat Sultanov, Chairman of the National Bank Ulan Sarbanov and discuss implementation of the ESAF-2 (Economic Structural Adjustment Facility) program in Kyrgyzstan. The 3-year program was lauched last year and the IMF has given for it $80 million.

All the local papers are commenting on recent arrests in Bishkek, conducted by the Ministry of National Security in the Interior Ministry on 1-3 May. The governmental Slovo Kyrgyzstana" and Kyrgyz Tuusu papers publish official information on the arrests.

The independent Asaba weekly in its 7 May edition names two of the 12 people arrested. They are Kojon Akinbayev (born in 1952) and Kaldybai Bostonbayev (born in 1958), both from the Kara-Kulja district of the Osh region. They are charged with Clause 294 of the Criminal Code - attempt on the life of a state or public person.

Chairman of the parliamentary commitee on defense and security, Adylbek Kadyrbekov, told RFE/RL correspondents in Bishkek on 6 May that the 12 people arrested are not serious criminals. According to him, there is neither the capable force nor reason for a coup d�etat in the country.

Also, Asaba will publish on 6 May the results of its sociological study conducted in November 1998 - April 1999. According to the study, the most probable candidate for the presidency in 2000 is Felix Kulov, former Mayor of Bishkek. The incumbent President Askar Akayev occupies 6th place in the list of candidates.

The governmental Kyrgyz Tuusu will publish on 7 May an interview with presidential press secretary Kanybek Imanaliev. ImanAliyev says press freedom in Kyrgyzstan exists due to the open policy of President Askar Akayev and that Akayev is the most criticized president in the CIS.

Kyrgyzstan celebrates the 6th anniversary of the new Kyrgyz constitution on 5 May. There are some public celebrations on the squares and streets of the city that day but no official meeting has been held. President Askar Akayev congratulated the nation via National Television on the evening of 4 May. He said there will be no early election in the country - nether parliamentary, nor presidential. According to him, the next parliamentary elections will be held in March 2000 and the next presidential election in December 2000, as planned before.

Two Kyrgyz papers have commented on information concerning the arrest of 12 suspects, released by the Ministry of National Security on 4 May .

The Delo #... weekly, quoting an anonymous official from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, writes that the suspects had prepared an attempt on the life of President Askar Akayev. Also, when Akayev visited the southern regions of the country late in April, there should have been a coup. An official told the Delo #... that law enforcement bodies had averted a coup d�etat.

The Vechernii Bishkek daily also writes on 5 May that the detained suspects had prepared an attempt on the life of Akayev and had planned to kidnap several other prominent politicians. There was a professional killer-sniper among the group of suspects. He should have shot the president. According to Vecherni Bishkek, the last events have no relation with the other arrests of people on Kyrgyz territory who are suspected of being involved in terrorist acts in Tashkent last February.

Both papers include among the materials on the arrests information on former Mayor of Bishkek Felix Kulov, who resigned on 26 April, and on the arrests of his former aides. However, both papers say there is no evidence either of Kulov's participation in the group that was arrested or of any connection between the last arrests and arrests of Kulov's aides.

The Ministry of National Security announced in Bishkek on 4 May that the 12 people suspected of preparing terrorist acts at the railroad and bus terminals as well as at filling stations in Bishkek, were detained on 1-3 May. According to the ministry, some weapons, cartridges and drugs have also been seized. The operation was conducted together with the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

According to information from the Foreign Ministry, a delegation of the Czech Foreign Ministry, led by Milan Berank, arrived in Bishkek on 5 May. They will hold consultations with the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry.

The governmental press service announced in Bishkek on 5 May that the Government had adopted a special decree obliging all its bodies to hold meetings with veterans of World War II on Victory Day, 9 May.

Also, the Finance Ministry has allotted 13.7 million soms (about $390,000) for one-time allowances to veterans. Heroes of the War and disabled soldiers will receive 600 soms (about $17) each. The others will each receive 100 to 400 soms.

The National Bank announced in Bishkek on 5 May that it had revised the activities of some private exchange offices in Bishkek and 52 of them have been deprived of the right to conduct hard currency transactions. According to the NB, there have been violations of financial documentation in these offices.

Exchange offices sold one US dollar for 38.8 to 38.9 soms on 5 May. There are about 1,500 exchange offices in Bishkek now. The population of the city is about 700,000.