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Kyrgyz Report: August 24, 1999

24 August 1999

Presidential spokesman Kanybek ImanAliyev announced in Bishkek on 24 August that clashes are continuing between government troops and guerrillas in the Batken district of Osh Oblast. He said that "not less than 10 guerrillas" have been killed in the fighting, and six soldiers have been wounded on the government side, three of them seriously.

Kuban Tabaldiev, Director of the Kabar national information agency, told a news conference in Bishkek on 24 August that four villages in Batken district (Zardaly, Dara, Kyshtyk and Kan) are currently under the control of the guerrillas. Zardaly alone has about 300 residents. Tabaldiev confirmed one soldier was killed during the guerrilla attack early in the morning of 23 August, and a local government official was wounded and died later on 23 August.

Parliamentary deputy Dosbol Nur Uulu, who represents the Batken constituency, told RFE/RL the dead local official was Tajybai Tailakov, a deputy head of local government. The total number of guerrillas is over 200. The guerrillas are still holding Interior Ministry troops commander General Anarbek Shamkeev and four Japanese geologists hostage.

According to presidential spokesman Imanaliev, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi of Japan held a 15 minute telephone conversation on 24 August with President Akayev. Obuchi said he hopes the Kyrgyz government will do its best to secure the hostages' safe release.

A Batken district administration official told RFE/RL's Bishkek correspondent by phone on 24 August that about 1,000 residents of villages close to those occupied by the guerrillas have been evacuated. Four local residents have been wounded and hospitalized. He said that clashes between government troops and guerrillas were taking place near Dara village. The guerrillas have blown up the Palalous bridge, which is the only one connecting Zardaly village with other regions of Batken.

Another official from Osh regional administration told RFE/RL's Bishkek correspondent by phone on 24 August that Uzbekistan has closed all roads from Osh Oblast to Uzbekistan for all non-Uzbek citizens. According to him, the Uzbek authorities are afraid there could be a terror attack during the celebration of Uzbek independence on 1 September.

President Askar Akayev signed and released two presidential decrees in Bishkek on 24 August. President Akayev sacked Defense Minister Subanov, who he said failed to implement a presidential decree signed on 25 May 1998 and a decision by the Security Council taken on 11 August 1999. According to the second decree, Chief of Military Staff General Nurdin Chomoev has been appointed acting defense minister. In addition, a special staff to undertake military actions against the guerrillas in the south has been formed, of which General Abdygul Chotbaev, Commander of National Guard, was appointed head. Security Council Secretary General Esen Topoev was appointed chief supervisor of all military operations in southern Kyrgyzstan.

Subanov had announced on 22 August that the military operation against the guerrillas was over, and decided to recall governmental forces from Batken. According to local observers, Subanov left Batken for Bishkek last weekend to take part in celebrations devoted to the 160th anniversary of the birth of Kyrgyz statesman Shabdan Baatyr.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin was the first participant to arrive in Bishkek on 24 August to attend the summit of presidents of signatory states to the 1996 Shanghai Agreement, followed by Emomali Rahmonov of Tajikistan and Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan. According to the Kyrgyz presidential press service, Russian President Boris Yeltsin was expected to arrive in Bishkek at about 21:30 local time (17:30 CEST).

According to the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry, the summit on 25 August will review the implementation of agreements signed since the 1996 Shanghai summit, problems of regional security, religious and ethnic extremism as well as the situations in Tajikistan and Afghanistan. A special Bishkek declaration will be adopted, and a trilateral agreement between China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan is expected to be signed.

Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Muratbek ImanAliyev said that Jiang Zemin will stay in Bishkek one more day after the meeting and a special agreement between China and Kyrgyzstan on security along the state frontiers will be signed.

ImanAliyev said regional security problems will be discussed at the summit in depth. He qualified the actions of guerrillas in southern Kyrgyzstan as international terrorism. He said he has discussed the current situation in southern Kyrgyzstan with the Russian Foreign Ministry, and the discussion will be continued at the summit. Presidential press secretary Kanybek ImanAliyev says the situation in the south will not affect the summit.

The chief editor and owner of the "Vechernii Bishkek" daily, Alexander Kim, convened a news conference in Bishkek on 24 August to disprove reports that he had been arrested that morning. Kim said officials from the Tax Police came to his office on the morning of 24 August and threatened to arrest him unless he handed over the paper's financial records. Kim refused to comply, because the Tax Inspection reviewed all those records last December and is not entitled to do so again until next December.

The paper's executive editor, Vladimir Kozlisky, and columnist Kabai Karabekov held a separate news conference in Bishkek on 24 August to announce that Alexander Kim had been arrested. They claimed that Kim had become the single decision maker on the paper's editorial board and accused him of tax evasion. Karabekov had served as President Akayev's press secretary in the early 1990s. "Vechernii Bishkek" has recently published several materials criticizing the government.

National Bank Deputy Chairman Emil Abdumanapov announced in Bishkek on 24 August that Kyrgyzstan's inflation rate in the first six months of 1999 was 33.6 percent and will not be more than 40 percent by the end of year. According to Abdumanapov, Kyrgyzstan has paid $18 million of the $42 million foreign debt due to be paid in 1999. The National Bank's reserves are currently $226 million and 3,863 million soms (about $95 million).

Ministry of National Security spokesman Talant Razzakov told RFE/RL's Bishkek correspondent on 23 August that intensive negotiations were underway between the Kyrgyz, Uzbek and Tajik governments on the current situation in southern Kyrgyzstan. According to Razzakov, some bands of guerrillas also attacked the Kadamjai district of Osh Oblast that day. Razzakov confirmed that one servicemen was killed during an attack on a geologists' camp in Batken the previous night.

Presidential spokesman Kanybek ImanAliyev announced in Bishkek on the morning of 23 August that more than 300 people were taken hostage in southern Kyrgyzstan the previous night. Among them are a Kyrgyz general and four Japanese specialists.

According to Imanaliev, about 30 guerrillas infiltrated Kyrgyz territory from Tajikistan during the late afternoon of 22 August and took hostage the whole village of Zardaly (about 40 families, more than 300 people) and the nearest small summer camp of Archa-Bashy (about 15 families) later that evening. Another band of guerrillas attacked the Altyn-Jailoo gold mine near Zardaly and took several people hostage early in the morning of 23 August, including Kyrgyz Interior Ministry forces commander General Anarbek Shamkeev and four Japanese geologists and their interpreter. K.ImanAliyev said the two bands, totalling some 65 guerrillas, are believed to have joined forces in Zardaly.

Parliament deputy Dosbol Nur Uulu told RFE/RL's Bishkek correspondent later on 23 August that the total number of hostages is 326. According to him, local government official Tajybai Tailakov has been killed. He accused the government of incompetence. Nur Uulu says Chief of Military Staff General Nurdin Chomoev told him on 22 August the decision to halt military operations and recall back the forces from Batken was "a government decision." Nur Uulu was elected to parliament from the Batken constituency.

The governmental press service announced on the afternoon of 23 August that one serviceman was killed during the guerrilla attack on the Altyn-Jailoo gold mine the previous night. Subanov and Chomoev, as well as First Deputy Minister of Security Valeri Verchagin and Deputy Interior Minister Kalmurat Sadiev, left Bishkek for Batken on 23 August. Special squads of the interior and defense ministries have also been sent back to Batken. Verchagin is holding negotiations with both Uzbek and Tajik authorities on joint military operation against guerrillas.

An anonymous official from the Interior Ministry told RFE/RL's Bishkek correspondent on 23 August that the first clashes have taken place in Batken between guerrillas and the government forces today. There are an unknown number of casualties on both sides. According to him, the total number of guerrillas is about 200.

Presidential press secretary Kanybek ImanAliyev said in Bishkek on 23 August that the situation in the south will not affect the summit of five presidents of the states that signed the 1996 Shanghai agreement. That meeting will take place in Bishkek on 24-25 August. It will be attended by Russian President Boris Yeltsin, China's Jiang Zemin, Kazakhstan's Nursultan Nazarbayev and Tajikistan's Emomali Rahmonov.

According to the government press service, Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev received a delegation of the Japanese agency on international cooperation in Bishkek on 23 August. The delegation is led by Katsua Kaneda. The implementation of projects in Kyrgyzstan financed by the agency was discussed.

Presidential administration Security department head General Bolot Januzakov announced in Bishkek on 21 August that the military operation against the band of guerrillas in southern Kyrgyzstan was almost over. He said the government forces had conducted massive attacks for last three days and there had been no resistance. Interior Minister General Omurbek Kutuev returned to Bishkek from the south of Batken district on 20 August. However, independent sources say not one guerrilla has either surrendered or put down his arms. No exact casualty figures have been announced. Defense Minister General Myrzakan Subanov was reportedly still in Batken district.

The Emergencies Ministry announced in Bishkek on 21 August that a special plane with a rescue team and a group of medical workers as well as humanitarian aid was sent to Turkey on 20 August. They will work in the town of Yaringa, 110 km from Istanbul.

The founding conference of the second communist party of Kyrgyzstan was held in Bishkek on 21 August, at which Klara Ajybekova was elected its chairwoman. 125 delegates from all six regions of the country took part. Former First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kyrgyzstan, Jumgalbek Amanbaev, has joined the new party, which split from the Party of Kyrgyz Communists led by parliament deputyAbsamat Masaliev.