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Kyrgyz Report: June 1, 1999

1 June 1999

Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev announced in Bishkek ON 1 June that the government structure would be reorganized. According to him, there will be 4 directorates in the government instead of the current 9 divisions. Each government employee will receive a contract in the next 2 months. During this time, all current employees will be considered temporary workers. According to the governmental press service, only 2 persons have received the new contracts so far. They are the head of the governmental administration Ratbek Eshmambetov and his deputy Bolot Kudaiberdyev.

MurAliyev was appointed prime minister on 12 April and has not made any personel changes in the last 8 weeks. However, it is the 3rd governmental reorganization in a year.

The OSCE center in Bishkek announced today that the current chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Norwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek, would arrive in Bishkek on 9 June. He will meet with President Askar Akayev, Prime Minister Amangeldi Muraliev, other top state officials as well as leaders of non-governmental oragnizations and will discuss cooperation between the OSCE and Kyrgyzstan.

According to the Chinese embassy in Bishkek, Vice Prime Minister Jiang Zichen of China will arrive in Kyrgyzstan on 8 June. Some political and economical issues will be discussed and some agreements between the Chinese and Kyrgyz governments will be signed during the visit.

Chairman of the Kyrgyz Commitee for Human Rights (KCHR) Ramazan Dyryldaev held a news conference in Bishkek on 1 June. According to him, the Ministry of Justice has not re-registered the KCHR yet in spite of the decisions of the two parliamentary commitees taken a week ago. Dyryldayev said the KCHR would continue its usual work even without registration.

The independent KCHR was set up in 1996 and was registered with the Ministry of Justice the same year. On 28 September 1998, the ministry revoked the registration because the KCHR had criticized President Askar Akayev and the government for preparations to the controversial referendum held on 17 October 1998. The parliamentary commitees on human rights and rule of law recommended that the government on 26 May 1999 re-register the KCHR.

Uulbubu Sherbekova, Director of the Testing Center at the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, told our correspondent in Bishkek on1 June that 444 out of 1,202 school graduates who applied passed their exame and will be rewarded with gold medals this year. The holders of gold medals have privileges in entering institutes and universities. 239 school graduates received gold medals in Kyrgyzstan in 1998.

First Vice Prime Minister Boris Silaev announced in Bishkek on 31 May that a Kazakh governmental delegation, led by Vice Prime Minister Janybek Karipjanov, visited Bishkek late in last Saturday. Earlier on Saturday, the government announced that the delegation would arrive in Bishkek in June. According to Silaev, Karipjanov decided to visit Bishkek unexpectedly on the way from Tashkent to Astana.

Silaev said he and Karipjanov signed a special agreement on coal deliveries from Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan, and they approved a special timetable for the deliveries. According to an agreement between the two governments, signed last year, Kazakhstan should supply Kyrgyzstan with 560,000 tons of coal in 1999 in return for water supplies to Kazakhstan from a water reservoir on Kyrgyz territory; but nothing has been delivered yet. In the middle of May, Kyrgyzstan stopped water supplies to Kazakhstan for a week.

However, according to Silaev, problems still remain. The Intergaz company on Kazakh territory has warned the Kyrgyz government that it would cut gas deliveries to Kyrgyzstan on 1 June, because a 3.5-million-dollar Kyrgyz debt has not been paid. Also, the Kazakh railroad department has warned Kyrgyzstan it would not allow Kyrgyz trains through Kazakh territory due to the $3.2 million transit debt owed by Kyrgyzstan. At the same time, Kazakhstan owes Kyrgyzstan $22 million for electricity supplies. According to Silaev, the Kazakh vice prime minister promised that Kyrgyz trains could go through Kazakh territory without any problems and that the Kazakh government would try to persuade the Intergas company not to create problems because of the debt which is 7 times less than the Kazakh debt to Kyrgyzstan. Additional negotiations will be held between the two governments in July.

Lidia Fomova, leader of the pensioners' organization of Kyrgyzstan, told our correspondent in Bishkek on 31 May that the leadership of the organization has decided to picket the government building in Bishkek on 2 June. They will protest the rise in bread prices and will demand that pensions be increased and that these should be paid on time. Bread and flour prices in the country have increased in the past few weeks by 30 to 40 percent.

Prices of some main food items are as follows in Bishkek: flour - $0.3 per kg; bread - $0.1 per loaf (450-g) or flat cake; sugar - $0.5 per kg; mutton - $ 1.6 per kg; beef - 1.5 per kg; pork - $1.3 per kg; fresh potatoes - $0.3 per kg; vegatble oil - $0.9 per liter; tea - $0.4 per 100 g. Prices in the countryside are a bit lower. The average monthly salary in the country is about $15, and the minimum monthly pension is now equal to 2 and a half US dollars.

The presidential press service announced in Bishkek on 31 May that President Askar Akayev has signed the new Election Code and Tax Code of Kyrgyzstan, the law on border guard service, and the law on mortgage. All these codes and laws were passed in parliament in May.

According to the law on border guard service, the service will be organized within the framework of the border guard department of the defense ministry and the department for security along state borders of the security ministry. There will be 2,800 servicemen in the service. After special agreements between the Russian and Kyrgyz governments are signed, Kyrgyzstan will begin to guard its state frontier with China later this year.

According to the new Election Code, elections to the 25 percent of seats in the Legislative Assembly (lower parliamentary house) will be held along party lists. There are 21 registered political parties in Kyrgyzstan now, 19 of which have the right to take part in the next parliamentary elections set for February 2000. According to the code, only parties founded no later than a one year prior to the date of the elections can take part. There is a 5-percent threshold for the parties. Each candidate to parliament should pay 30,000 soms (about $700) to the budget of the Central Election Commission. Fees for presidential candidates are 100,000 som (about $2,300). The next presidential elections should be held in December 2000.

According to the governmental press service, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Horst Keller, will arrive in Bishkek on 4 June. He will meet with President Askar Akayev, Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev and other Kyrgyz top officials. They will discuss the implementation of EBRD projects in Kyrgyzstan. The possibility of setting up an investment-industrial bank in the country will also be discussed. The EBRD has made investments totaling 223 million dollars into private firms and 82-million-dollar investments into governmental enterprises in Kyrgyzstan.

Public celebrations of the 70th anniversary of Chingiz Aitmatov were held in the Talas region on 29 May. Chingiz Itmatov and his brother Ilgiz and sister Roza, First Lady Mairam Akayeva of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakh Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan - poet Mukhtar Shakhanov, and many other writers, poets, film makers and local officials took part in the celebrations. Film festivals, exhibitions and festive meetings were held in the town of Talas and other willages and towns of Aitmatov's native region. Delegation from the Jambyl region of neighboring Kazakhstan also took part.

A festive meeting in Bishkek was held on 27 May and President Askar Akayev, Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev took part. Prominent Kyrgyz writer Aitmatov was born on 12 December 1928. He has received prizes and titles possible for a writer in the USSR. He was an adviser to the President of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, in the 90's. Now, he is a Kyrgyz ambassador to the EU, NATO, UNESCO, Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands and lives in Brussels.

Sheraly Sydykov, director of the State Agency on Sports and Tourism, announced in Bishkek on 31 May that Kyrgyzstan is not ready to hold the second Central Asian games in 1999. According to him, the agency will send a request to the International Olympic Commitee to allow Kyrgyzstan to hold the games in 2001.

An Afghan delegation led by ousted President Burhanuddin Rabbani was in Kyrgyzstan on 28-29 May. On 28 May, they had meetings with President Askar Akayev, Prime Minister Amangeldi Muraliev, Defense Minister Myrzakan Sumanov, Security Minister Misir Ashyrkulov and other members of the Kyrgyz government. On 29 May, the delegation met with the two houses of Kyrgyz Parliament, Usup Mukambaev and Abdygany Erkebaev. Most of the meetings were held behind closed doors.

At a news conference on 29 May, Rabbani told journalists that bilateral relations between the two states were discussed and that he supports the idea of holding international peace conference on Afghanistan in Bishkek. Foreign Minister Muratbek ImanAliyev of Kyrgyzstan said at the news conference that Kyrgyzstan does not insist on holding the conference in Bishkek, but is nevertheless ready hold it. Rabbani said that women's rights are abused in Afghanistan by the Taliban government. He proposed holding in Bishkek a conference on women's rights in Aghanistan. He also blamed the Taliban for drug trafficking through the territories of the Central Asian states and suggested opening a trade representative office of Aghanistan in Kyrgyzstan.

A joint statement was adopted as a result of the visit. According to the statement, both sides support the idea of resolving the Afghan conflict through negotiations and will fight against spreading trerrorism, religious extremism and drugs in the region. The Afghan side supports the idea of holding an international conference on Afghanistan in Bishkek. Both sides are against involving some foreign states in the Afghan conflict and are for forming a coalition government of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan recognized Kyrgyz independence in 1991, but diplomatic relations have not yet been established between the two states. There are about 500 registered Afghan refugees in Kyrgyzstan, but, according to the foreign ministry, the real figure is 2-3 times more, because some Afghan refugees in Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have been moving to Kyrgyzstan recently.

The foreign ministry announced in Bishkek on 28 May that a Kazakh governmental delegation would come to Bishkek early in June to discuss latest economic issues between the two states. The delegation will be led by vice prime minister Janybek Karipjanov of Kazakhstan. Also, according to the governmental press service, a Kyrgyz governmental delegation will go to Tashkent on 14 June to discuss economic issues between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan cut down natural gas deliveries to Kyrgyzstan recently. Also, the Kyrgyz government has announced that Kazakhstan has not yet sent any coal to Kyrgyzstan in spite of the governmental agreement on 560,000 tons of coal in 1999.

The foreign ministry announced in Bishkek on 29 May that an agreement on shifting the border guard of the Kyrgyz-Chinese state frontier from Russian border guards to the Kyrgyz ones would be signed later. Early in 1999, the Kyrgyz government announced it would begin to guard the frontier itself beginning 28 May. According to the foreign ministry, some minor amendments should be made to the agreement.

According to the presidential press service, President Askar Akayev has signed a law on border guard service in the country. The law was passed by parliament earlier in May. According to the law, there will be 2,800 servicemen in the service.

The governmental press service announced in Bishkek on 29 May that First Vice Prime Minister Boris Silayev would go the a meeting of CIS government heads to be held in Minsk on 4 June. The Kyrgyz delegation will include Kemelbek Nanyev, responsible in the government for CIS realtions, and deputy foreign minister Sagynbek Dordoev. Reforming CIS executive bodies and the formation of free economic zones in the CIS will be under dicsussion.

According to the foreign ministry, a Kyrgyz delegation is taking part in an international seminar on democratization of post-soviet societies, held in Geneva, Switzerland, on 26 May - 2 June. The delegation includes Imankadyr Rysaliev, department head in the presidential administration; Cholponkul Arabayev, department head in the government and MPs Rahat Achylova and Jamgyrbek Bokoshev.

Exchange offices in Bishkek sold one US dollar for 44.2 soms on 28 May. According to the press service for the National bank, the rate of the som was 43.6 to the dollar at the inter-bank market in Bishkek on Friday. $215,000 of $275,000 were sold by the National Bank at the market.