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Kyrgyz Report: August 10, 1999

10 August 1999

The Kyrgyz authorities continued negotiations on 10 August with the band of 21 Uzbek guerrillas who have taken up positions in the Jyluu-Suu canyon near the village of Zardaly in southern Kyrgyzstan. According to government spokesman Farid Niyazov, Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev chaired a meeting on the crisis with leaders of the defense, security and interior ministries in Bishkek on 10 August behind closed doors at which it was decided that government forces from both Uzbekistan and Tajikistan will help to disarm the band, according to government spokesman Farid Niyazov. An urgent session of the Security Council in Bishkek the same day decided that the standoff should be resolved through negotiations.

On 6 August the guerrillas took hostage the head of the Batken district administration, Abdyrakman Mamataliev, the district security service head, and two officers from the Kyrgyz Defense Ministry. Defense Minister General Myrzakan Subanov, Interior Minister General Omurbek Kutuev, Secretary of the Security Council General Esen Topoev, and several deputy security ministers have visited the Batken district in recent days. The guerrillas came to the Batken district of Osh region from Tajikistan ten days ago and are demanding free passage to Uzbekistan. The Kyrgyz authorities want to disarm them.

Toktosun Abduvaliev, deputy director general of the Kyrgyzgas state company, told RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek on 10 August that representatives of the Intergas company of Kazakhstan will arrive in Bishkek the following day. Deputy Prime Minister Esengul OmurAliyev will receive them and hold negotiations on gas deliveries from Uzbekistan. Kyrgyz government owes Intergas about $2 million for gas transportation service in 1997. At the same time, Kazakhstan owes Kyrgyzstan about $22 million for electricity supplies.

It was announced in Bishkek on 6 August that the Intergas wants to stop gas deliveries to Kyrgyzstan on 10 August, but AbduvAliyev says the deadline has been postponed until 13 August. Kyrgyzstan receives natural gas from Uzbekistan via Kazakh territory.

The first trial against government officials accused of corruption will begin in the Pervomai district court of Bishkek on 11 August. The accused are former deputy finance ministers Alymbek Biyalinov and Rysbek Begmatov. They were arrested, together with several other high officials, last December. However, some local experts say the arrested officials are victims of a stage-managed campaign against corruption. Numerous other high officials were accused of corruption but then were appointed to other posts.

The city court of Bishkek will consider a suit against the Ministry of Justice on 12 August. According to the Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights (KCHR), two KCHR members are plaintiffs.

The KCHR was registered with the Justice Ministry in 1996. Last September, the ministry revoked the registration and refused to re-register the KCHR until recently. Deputy Minister of Justice Erkin Mamyrov announced in Bishkek on 4 August the KCHR will be re-registered soon.

According to the governmental press service, a meeting of leaders of energy agencies of the five Central Asian states began in the resort town of Cholpon-Ata on 10 August. Kyrgyzstan is represented by Ilyas Davydov, deputy director general of the Kyrgyzenergo joint-stock company.

The "Vechernii Bishkek" daily wrote in its 9 August edition that the Uzbek guerrillas in the Batken district of Kyrgyzstan have taken four Kyrgyz citizens hostage. The head of the security department in the presidential administration, General Bolot Januzakov, made a special announcement in Bishkek the same day confirming the information. According to him, the head of the Batken district administration Abdyrakman Mamataliev, the district security service head and two officers from the Kyrgyz Defense Ministry were taken in hostage four days ago after travelling to the guerrillas' positions to hold negotiations.

According to Talant Razzakov, a deputy directorate head at the Kyrgyz Security Ministry, Defense Minister General Myrzakan Subanov; Interior Minister General Omurbek Kutuev, Secretary of the Security Council General Esen Topoev and two deputy security ministers have arrived in the district and are conducting negotiations with the guerrillas, together with elders from the two nearest villages - Zardaly and Korgon. The guerrillas are camped in the Jyluu-Suu canyon, 170 km from the regional center of Batken.

Razzakov said that if the negotiations fail, the Kyrgyz side could use force to unarm the 21 guerrillas, who took up position in mountains near the village of Zardaly early in August. According to Razzakov, the first guerrillas arrived in the district from the Badakhshan region of Tajikistan on 30 July. According to Osh Oblast deputy governor Adam Zakirov, some Tajik guerrillas had visited the district from time to time before to buy food.

The guerrillas are led by warlord Abdulaziz from Namangan, Uzbekistan, who is demanding that his men be allowed to go to Uzbekistan. He claims that the actions of the Kyrgyz authorities have been co-ordinated with both Uzbek and Tajik governments. Kyrgyzstan will not allow them to go anywhere without unarming them. Razzakov says the guerrilas talk each other in Uzbek and Russian. They have been detected by cell phone conversations.

Head of the presidential administration Medet Sadyrkulov announced in Bishkek on 9 August that the Russian government reshuffle will have an impact on the situation in Kyrgyzstan. According to him, any serious changes in Russia invariably affects Kyrgyzstan. Sadyrkulov said the Kyrgyz government will try to minimize the bad impact.

About 1,000 young people gathered on 9 August along the border between Bishkek city and the Sokuluk district of Chu Oblast to demand permission to construct private houses on their own initiative on wasteland on the outskirts of the city.

About 500 young people gathered in a southern area of Bishkek on 6 and 7 August to demand to be allowed to build 4,000 homes. Deputy Mayor of Bishkek Abdraim Kulbayev told an RFE/RL correspondent on 7 August their demands are illegal and no plots of land will be given them.

Tens of thousands of young people come to Bishkek from the countryside, live with their relatives or friends and try to construct their own houses. The city administration sometimes allows them to build houses, allotting waste lots in the city suburbs. There are several areas around the city where young people live in houses constructed on their own initiative. Sometimes they unite in associations which make political, economic and social demands on the administration.

Newly appointed chairman of the governmental commission on combating drug traffic Tolendi Mambetjanov announced in Bishkek on 9 August that 1,677 criminal cases connected with drugs were registered in the country in the first half of 1999, of which 1,299 cases have already been handed to court. According to Mambetjanov, 688 kg of narcotics, including 11 kg of heroin, were seized in January-June in the cases handed to court. The corresponding figures for 1998, according to Mambetjanov, are: 1,523 cases and 585 kg of drug seized in the first 6 months of 1998.

According to Mambetjanov, a regional conference on combating drug traffic will be held in Bishkek next month. Foreign ministers of all five Central Asian states, leaders of law enforcement bodies as well as UN representatives are invited.

Presidential spokesman Kanybek ImanAliyev announced in Bishkek on 9 August that President Askar Akaev has signed a special decree appointing Iskender Gaipkulov, former head of the tax inspection of the Osh region, as first deputy head of the presidential administration. Ablabek Asankanov, one of the leaders of the My Country party, has been appointed head of the department for social policy in the administration. Former deputy finance minister Nurlan Toromyrzaev has been appointed deputy head of the department on economic policy.

In addition, President Akayev has signed a decree on reshuffling the leadership of the National Bank. Deputy bank chairwoman Maria Taranchieva has been fired and Kanyshai Sharshekeeva, former deputy director of the State Tax Inspection, has been appointed in her place. Azamat Tokbayev has been expelled from the Board of the National Bank and Taalai Jumataev, Suerkul Abdyraly Tegin and Larisa Tsyplakova have been named as board members. Acting Bank chairman Ulan Sarbanov and his first deputy Emil Abdumanapov have kept their posts.

Exchange offices in Bishkek sold one US dollar for 41.5 soms on 9 August. According to the press service for the National Bank, the som's rate was 40.95 soms to the $1 at the inter-bank market in Bishkek on 9 August, where the National Bank sold $260,000.

Tursunbek Akunov, Chairman of the Human Rights Movement of Kyrgyzstan, told RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek on 7 August that all 17 Kyrgyz citizens detained in neighboring Kazakhstan were released on 6 August. According to Akunov, the Kazakh authorities have withdrawn all the accusations against them with exception of illegally crossing the state frontier between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

The Kazakh authorities arrested 78 people in the Beryozka holiday house near the Kazakh town of Taraz on 15 July. They were citizens of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan who had gathered in the holiday house for communal prayers. Neither weapons nor drugs were seized. Some detained people (especially those under 18) were subsequently released, but the remainder, including the 17 Kyrgyz citizens, were held in detention. The Kyrgyz Muftiyat (Muslim Board) and human rights organizations have sent protest letters to the Kazakh Interior Ministry. The detention was carried out at the request of the interior ministry of Uzbekistan which had claimed that wahhabi activists and some organizers of the terror acts in Tashkent last February had gathered near Taraz.

The government newspaper 'Slovo Kyrgyzstana" wrote on 6 August that the Prosecutor-General's Office has opened a criminal case against parliamentary deputy Dastan Sarygulov, the former president of the Kyrgyzaltyn state gold company. He is accused of bugging the phone conversations of directors of the Makmal gold enterprise some time ago. Sarygulov was sacked by President Askar Akayev on 26 July.

Former environment minister Kulubek Bokonbaev has published in Bishkek a book entitled "Barskoon. Myths and Reality". According to our correspondents in Bishkek, Bokonbaev says in the book that the aftermath of the chemical accident in Barskoon last year was liquidated fully in 13 days and no mass poisoning occurred in the area.

On 20 May 1998 a truck belonging to the Canadian Kumtor Operating Company with 20 tons of sodium cyanide plunged into the Barskoon river, spilling about two tons of the chemicals. Several people died of poisoning and thousands were hospitalized. Bokonbayev was envirnment minister at that time.