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Kyrgyz Report: August 31, 1999

31 August 1999

General Bolot Januzakov, head of the security and defense department of the presidential administration, told a news conference in Bishkek on 31 August that the situation in the Batken and Chong-Alai districts of Osh region is quiet and there were no clashes with government troops on 30 and 31 August. He also denied all local media reports that Omurbek Jamakeev, interpreter to the four kidnapped Japanese geologists, has been released and that the Commander of the National Guard, General Abdygul Chotbaev has been wounded.

However, the head of the administration of the Chong-Alai district, Mamarasul Toroev told an RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek by phone on 31 August that there were clashes between government forces and a band of about 100 rebels near the village of Kara-Teyit in the night of 30 August. According to Toroev, there may have been casualties from both sides. In the morning, the rebels hid in the mountains. Toroev said about 1,090 residents of Kara-Teiyt have been evacuated to the nearest village (Karamyk). He said that six out of 17 residents of Kara-Teyit injured in the bombing raid by Uzbek aircraft on villages in Chong-Alai on 29 August are in serious condition and have been taken to the Osh city hospital. Three civilians, including a child, were killed in the bombing which was intended to target the guerrillas.

Abdrakman Mamataliev, head of the administration of Batken district, told an RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek by phone on 31 August that there were no clashes in the district on 30 and 31 August. According to him, about 4,700 refugees from villages close to those occupied have been gathered near Batken, the center of the district. MamatAliyev said a 947-strong team of reservists has been formed in the districts and that they are being armed now. Also, 98 reservists and 108 snipers from around Kyrgyzstan have already come to Batken to help government forces. MamatAliyev was taken hostage by the other band of rebels early in August and was released along with the other three hostages on 11 August after Kyrgyzstan paid $50,000 in cash to the rebels.

An official from the Kyrgyz embassy in Moscow, Akylbek Saliev, told an RFE/RL correspondent by phone that First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Silaev and Defense Minister Esen Topoev of Kyrgyzstan met in Moscow on 30 August with Igor Sergeev and Sergei Shoigu, the Russian Defense Minister and Minister of Emergency Situations. On 31 August, Silaev and Topoev met with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in Moscow and discussed possible Russian technical and military assistance to Kyrgyzstan. Topoev was appointed defense minister on 29 August and left for Moscow the following day. President Askar Akayev had fired Myrzakan Subanov as defense minister on 24 August.

Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev held a government meeting in Bishkek on 31 August and announced that back wages and social allowances to residents of Batken, Chong-Alai and Kadamjai districts have started to be paid. Some people in those districts have not received any money for the last eight months. MurAliyev and nine ministers of his cabinet visited the Osh region briefly on 30 August.

A group of five parliament deputies (Absamat Masaliev, Almambet Matubraimov, Adakham Madumarov, Dosbol Nur Uulu and Omurbek Tekebaev) arrived in Batken district on 31 August. They are meeting local authorities and ordinary people and have brought humanitarian aid to them.

A session of the parliamentary Legislative Assembly will begin in Bishkek on 1 September. According to its spokesman Yrys Osmonalieva, the situation in southern Kyrgyzstan will be discussed and the session might be held behind closed doors.

Five villages of Batken district (total population of about 300 residents) and 13 residents of Chong-Alai district were seized by Uzbek guerrillas last week. Among the hostages taken in Batken district are Kyrgyz General Anarbek Shamkeev and four Japanese geologists (Nobuhisha Nakajima, Hirotaro Fijii, Haruo Harada and Toshiaki Ariie). There are now 500 to 1,000 guerrillas, infiltrated into southern Kyrgyzstan from neighboring Tajikistan since 22 August. Four refugees were released in Chong-Alai district on 30 August. Uzbek warplanes bombed the village of Kara-Teyit in Chong-Alay district on 29 August by mistake. The Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry sent a protest note to the Uzbek government on 30 August and has received the answer that the case would be investigated properly and the pilots responsible will be punished.

The Moscow-based "Vremya-MN" news paper carried an interview with General Felix Kulov, Chairman of the Ar-Namys party of Kyrgyzstan, on 31 August. Kulov resigned as mayor of Bishkek last April, accusing President Askar Akayev of authoritarian rule, and formed a new party. Last week he demanded that Independence Day on 31 August should not be celebrated due to the situation in the south.

Kulov says in the interview that rebels from Tajikistan had tried to enter Kyrgyzstan twice before, in the autumn of 1997 and in March 1998, but were repelled. When the Kyrgyz authorities arrested four Uzbek terrorists on Kyrgyz territory last year, they received a message from Islamist rebels not to extradite them to Uzbekistan, otherwise they vowed to take action against Kyrgyzstan. The terrorists were extradited. Kulov was minister of national security at that time.

Kyrgyzstan celebrated Independence Day on 31 August with a small ceremony on the Ala-Too central square of Bishkek. Prime Minister Amangeldi Muraliev, Bishkek Mayor Medet Kerimkulov and visiting Vice President Krishnan Kand of India attended.

The editorial board of "Vechernii Bishkek" daily announced in Bishkek on 31 August that it has appealed to President Askar Akayev to stop government pressure on the paper. According to the editorial board, the paper's finances are in order but Medet Sadyrkulov, head of the presidential administration, has organized a campaign against the paper.

The Tax Inspection accused the chief editor of the paper, Alexandr Kim, of tax evasion and opened a criminal case against him last week. Kim is in the hospital now. "Vechernii Bishkek" has published several articles recently criticizing the government.