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Kyrgyz Report: August 13, 1999

13 August 1999

There is still no progress in the hostage issue in the Batken district of Osh region. However, the head of the security department in the Presidential Administration Bolot Januzakov told our correspondent in Bishkek on 13 August that "substantial information" would be released later that day. Parliament deputy Dosbol Nur Uulu, who returned from Batken the morning of 13 August, and the spokesman for the Security Ministry Talant Razzakov also announced in Bishkek on 13 August that there had been no change.

Dosbol Nur Uulu has criticized the Kyrgyz law enforcement bodies, affirming that Tajik guerrillas visited Kyrgyz villages to buy food many times before, but nothing was done to increase security along the state border.

The Interior Ministry announced in Bishkek on 13 August that a resident of the Nooken district (neighboring the Batken district), Joroev, has been arrested and charged with providing the guerrillas with food. According to the ministry, Joroev and the other man, Akbotoev (also a Kyrgyz citizen, resident of the Batken district) delivered to the Zardaly village 30 sacks of flour for the guerrillas to use early in August.

Twenty-one Uzbek guerrillas took up position in the Jyluu-Suu canyon over a week ago. They came from Tajikistan late in July and gathered near the village of Zardaly. Kyrgyz forces surrounded them on 5 August and the guerrillas had moved to the canyon. Last week they took four hostages who came to them to hold negotiations, - a local official and three officers. One of the hostages, Colonel Mamat Kongurbaev, was released on 12 August. According to him, the three other hostages are alive. The guerrillas are demanding negotiations with the Kyrgyz authorities on their free passage to Uzbekistan. The Kyrgyz forces want to disarm them and release the hostages. The mountainous village of Zardaly has no telephone connection with Batken, the center of the Batken district, and is 150 kms far Batken. The Juluu-Suu canyon is 20 kms from Zardaly and 35 kms from the Kyrgyz-Tajik border.

The "Vechernii Bishkek" daily wrote on 12 August that the guerrillas had taken a fifth hostage, but there is no confirmation of that report.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Culture announced in Bishkek on 13 August that 1,075,352 children would go to school in September. The population of the country is about 4.8 million.

According to the ministry, 1,944 school buildings have already been repaired around the country. However, 40 percent of them were built in the 1950s. Only 68 schools have been built in the last two years. Also, 8,558 children could not go to school last year due to economical difficulties.

Presidential spokesman Kanybek ImanAliyev announced in Bishkek on August 12 that one of the four hostages seized a week ago by a band of 21 guerrillas in the Batken district was released on 12 August. ImanAliyev said the guerrillas have demanded a large sum of money. According to some unconfirmed reports, they have demanded a helicopter and $1 million in cash.

The released hostage is Colonel M. Kongurbaev. According to him, the three other hostages are alive. The guerrillas have asked to hold more negotiations on their free passage to Uzbekistan.

An official of the Batken district administration told our correspondent in Bishkek by phone on August 12 that a working group led by Defence Minister General Myrzakan Subanov is preparing a special operation to free the hostages and disarm the band, which is holding a position in the Jyluu-Suu canyon. The canyon is about 35 km from the Kyrgyz-Tajik border.

Toktosun Abduvaliev, deputy director general of the Kyrgyzgas state company, told RFE/RL correspondents in Bishkek on 12 August that negotiations with representatives of the Intergas private company of Kazakhstan ended in Bishkek on 11 August. They were received by Vice Prime Minister Esengul Omuraliev.

According to Abduvaliev, Intergas has agreed not to stop gas deliveries to Kyrgyzstan before 1 September. He said that all issues between Intergas and the Kyrgyz government should be settled by September. Intergas warned Kyrgyzstan early in August that gas transportation would be stopped on 10 August; then the deadline was postponed until 13 August. The 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. Kyrgyzstan receives natural gas from Uzbekistan via Kazakh territory.

Also, AbduvAliyev says negotiations between the government and the Khimmontazh joint-stock company of Kazakhstan are continuing. According to a preliminary agreement, Khimmontazh could supply Kyrgyzstan with about 130 million cubic meters of gas and it could serve the needs of the country for three months. Khimmontazh might sell gas for $40 per 1,000 cubic meters. Kyrgyzstan buys gas from Uzbekistan for $55 per 1,000 cubic meters. At the same time, Uzbekistan sells gas to Khimmontazh for about $35 per 1,000 cubic meters.

Deputy Mayor of Bishkek Abdyraim Kulbaev and the head of the Sokuluk district of Chu region, Temirlan Birimkulov, held a news conference in Bishkek on 12 August. According to them, about 5,000 young people have gathered in Bishkek from around the country, demanding to turn the 560-hectare field on the border between Bishkek city and Sokuluk district into plots of land and to distribute these among the young people. There the young people would construct their private houses by themselves.

Kulbaev said the demand is illegal but the issue will be considered. According to him, about 1,250 young residents of Bishkek are on the waiting list of the city administration to receive plots for construction. Birimkulov said the Sokuluk district would never turn the arable land into a construction field. According to him, about 1,000 residents of the district are also on the waiting list.

About 20 residential districts with private houses have emerged in the Bishkek suburbs since 1991. The houses have been constructed on waste fields by young people who move to the capital from the countryside. They live at their friends or relatives and try to construct their own houses, which are sometimes only hovels.

A trial against six finance ministry officials, including former two deputy ministers Rysbek Begmatov and Alymbek Biyalinov, began in the Pervomai district court in Bishkek on 11 August. They were arrested last December on charges of corruption and embezzlement. A court official announced on 11 August that the next session will be held on 16 August. Local experts say the trial could last for more than a month.

The Foreign Ministry announced in Bishkek on 11 August that a joint communique on establishing diplomatic relations between Kyrgyzstan and Chile was signed in New York on 9 August by the Kyrgyz and Chilean representatives to the UN, Zamira Eshmambetova and Juan Larrain.

Bishkek Mayor Medet Kerimkulov met in Bishkek on 11 August with representatives of the youth organizations of the country. He said the city administration will help young people and a special department for that purpose has been set up in the administration. Kerimkukov was elected mayor last month.

The UNHCR office in Bishkek announced that 1,130 Tajik refugees returned Tajikistan in January-July of this year. Most of them are ethnic Tajiks. Some ethnic Kyrgyz who came from Tajikistan as refugees do not want to return Tajikistan and the governments of the two states are holding hold negotiations on giving them Kyrgyz citizenship.

Sergey Zanin, executive director of the Eternal Heritage foundation, announced in Bishkek on 11 august that a record book with the text of the Manas epic poem would be issued by the foundation soon. Its size will be 4 meters to 2.7 meters and weigh about 2 tons. It will be printed either in Germany or the Netherlands and will exhibited in the National Museum of History in Bishkek.

The Manas is the longest poem in the world. There are more than 500,000 lines in the Orozbakov version only. The Indian poem Mahabharata contains about 400,000 lines, the Greek poem Iliad contains about 16,000 lines and the Odyssey has about 12,000 lines. About 65 versions of the poem have been written in Kyrgyzstan. The millennium of the Manas was celebrated in Kyrgyzstan in 1995.