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Kyrgyz Report: June 4, 1999

4 June 1999

According to the parliamentary press service, Parliamentary People�s Assembly deputy Boris Vorobyev was arrested in the village of Novo-Pavlovka, near Bishkek, by the Chu regional authorities on 2 June. There is no official charge yet, but Vorobyev has been accused of embezzlement and tax evasion before. Vorobyev is a president of the private Vorobyev and Co firm.

Several members of parliament have been accused of embezzlement and corruption by Prosecutor General Asanbek Sharshenaliev, but the parliament has not yet stripped any of them of their parliamentary immunity. According to the results of the public referendum held on 17 October 1998, parliament members have immunity only during parliamentary sessions.

Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev held a governmental meeting in Bishkek on 3 June. Deputy Finance Minister Malabek Toktobolotov reported to the meeting on the issue of salary payments. According to him, the ministry will pay salaries for last May to teachers and doctors by 20 June. Other people working at the budgetary financed enterprises will only receive their salaries for April.

MurAliyev said the finance ministry must change tax rates according to current inflation rate, and demanded that the Kyrgyzenergo state company and the heating and power station in Bishkek, which do not pay customs duties, should be disciplined. Also, according to Muraliev, 200 million soms (about $4.5 million), gained from selling of the cement plant in the town of Kant, will be used to pay salaries. The government owes people several hundred thousand soms for back salaries for 1998.

Ainagul Beishembieva, the wife of Taalaibek Duishembiev, who is accused of organizing a murder, told our correspondent in Bishkek on 3 June that her husband sent a letter to President Askar Akayev the previous day asking to be stripped of Kyrgyz citizenship. Copies of the letter have been sent to the UN committee on human rights and to the US embassy in Bishkek. Duishembiev says in the letter he was not involved in any unlawful activity and did not take part in organizing any murder. He added that police are abusing his human rights and humiliating him in detention. According to Ainagul Duishembieva, her husband has appealed before to Minister of National Security Misir Ashirkulov and Prosecutor General Asanbek SharshenAliyev without any response.

Duishembiev was arrested 10 months ago and has been kept in pre-prison detention since then. He is accused of organizing the assassination of Yusup Kolbaev, deputy director general of the LUK-Oil-Kyrgyzstan company. Kolbaev was shot dead in front of his house in Bishkek on 21 March 1997. Two policemen were arrested late in 1997 and they are accused of implementing the killing. No trial on the case has been held yet.

Duishembiev was Director of the Center on Security and Stability at the National Academy of Sciences from1996 until his arrest in August 1998.

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 and Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev the same day. On 5 May, Keller will visit the Kumtor gold mine and will leave Kyrgyzstan the following day.

The EBRD has given a loan to the Canadian Cameco corporation which develops the Kumtor deposit. The Cameco spilt about 2 tons of sodium cyanide in Kyrgyzstan a year ago. Four people died and more than 1,000 were hospitalized last year as a result of the accident.

According to a EBRD representative in Bishkek, the EBRD is taking part in a several projects in Kyrgyzstan. Total value of them is $350 million. A new $20-million EBRD credit line for Kyrgyzstan will be opened soon.

According to information from the Soros-Kyrgyzstan Foundation, the foundation will hold an international conference next week on the chemical accident in Kyrgyzstan last year. The conference will be held in the resort town of Cholpon-Ata on 8-12 June. On 10 June, participants of the conference will visit the village of Barskoon close to the site of the accident.

A truck with 20 tons of sodium cyanide crashed into the Barskoon river, which flows into the Issyk-Kul lake, on 20 May 1998. According to official reports, 1,742 kg of chemicals were spilt. 4 people died, about 2,600 people were poisoned, more than 1,000 of them were hospitalized, more than 17,000 people (residents of the villages situated in the Barskoon valley) applied for medical assistence from 20 May till 1 August 1998. About 5,000 residents of Barskoon village were evacuated to the northern side of the Issyk-Kul lake for a week in June.

According to local experts, residents of Barskoon are suffering from skin diseases now. Member of Parliament Jypar Jeksheev announced in Bishkek last April that about 80 people died in Barskoon in the 9 months since the accident (the Asaba weekly, 16 April 1999). According to doctor Jengish Jylkybayeva of the National Hospital in Bishkek, 22 people died in Barskoon since the accident, while 40 people died in the village in the 4-year period before the accident. Minister of Health Care Naken Kasiev announced in May that 47 people died in Barskoon in 1996, 43 people died in 1997 and 50 people died in 1998. There were 5 miscarriages among pregnant women of Barskoon in 1996, 12 miscarriages in 1997, 14 in 1998 and 4 miscarriages in the first 3 months of 1999 (the Asaba weekly, 5 May 1999).

Moscow based "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" carries an article on Kyrgyz border guards in its 3 June edition. Author Nikolay Plotnikov writes that shifting of the border guarding from the Russian border guarders to the Kyrgyz border guard service will be implemented in three stages. Firstly, the 2,800-strong National Border Guard Service will be formed in 1999. Then, in 2000, Kyrgyzstan will begin to guard its state frontiers with China itself. The third stage will last till 2005. By the end of this stage, Kyrgyzstan will begin to guard its frontiers with Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Between 1,500 and 2,000 people picketted the government building in Bishkek on 2 June. Most of them were pensioners. They protested worsening living conditions, raise of prices and demanded privileges for pensioners in buying bread, and an increase in pensions which should be paid on time. They also demanded support for domestic industry, restrictions on the government's acceptance foreign loans, and stricter and more constructive negotiations with the neighboring Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan on gas and coal deliveries from these countries. The demonstration was organized by the Movement for Social Protection of People, led by Lidia Fomova.

Vice Prime Minister Esengul Omuraliev, Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Mira Jangaracheva, Chairwoman of the National Social Fund, Minister Roza Aknazarova went out to meet the picketters, but the demonstrators refused for about 3 hours to negotiate with them, demanding to meet with either President Askar Akayev or Prime Minister Amangeldi Muraliev. Finally, a group of picketters, led by Lidia Fomova, began negotiations with Esengul OmurAliyev in the building of the trade union federation.

A similar demonstration was held in the town of Jalal-Abad on 2 June. About 15 people picketted the building of the regional administration, demanding payment of salaries and pensions. They also carried slogans with the words: �Raising bread prices is genocide�. The chairman of the Jalal-Abad Regional Assembly, Adysh Kochkorov, has received some participants of the demonstration. Deputy Governor of the region Tilek Akanbaev told human rights advocate Albert Korgoldoev in Jalal-Abad on 2 June the administration had received 3 million som (about $70,000) from Bishkek recently and salaries in the region would be paid by 20 June.

Bread prices have increased in the country by about 30 percent recently. The minimal monthly pension is 100 soms now, equal to $2.5. The average salary is about $15 per month. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan interrupt gas and coal deliveries to Kyrgyzstan due to unpaid debt of the Kyrgyz government.

Heavy rain with snow hit the Jalal-Abad region during the night from 1 to 2 June. The Nooken and Aksy districts, Jalal-Abad and Mailuu-Suu towns of the region have been flooded as a result. According to the Ministry of Emergencies, a 7-year-old boy drowned in the village of Besh-Moinok in the Nooken district. 5 flats, about 30 houses and a school have been flooded, one house was destroyed completely.

The governmental press service announced in Bishkek on 2 June that the government had begun to pay salaries for April to teachers and doctors. According to the press service, salaries for May will be paid by 20 June. The Government will begin to pay its debts for 1998 after receiving a new 20-million-dollar loan from the Asian Development Bank. According to the press service, the National Social Fund owes the people 277 million som (about $6 million) for social payments.

Salamat Duishembiev, an official from the State Commission on Religious Affairs, told RFE/RL's correspondent in Bishkek on 2 June that the commission had sent a letter to President Askar Akayev concerning on the spreading activity of the Moon Church in the country. According to Duishembiev, no representation of the Church has ever been registered with the commission, but it is operating through the other public organizations in Kyrgyzstan. He has named the association of women for peace in the world, the federation of youth for peace in the world and the Federation of the Women Organizations of Kyrgyzstan, led by former MP Jamal Tashibekova.