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Kyrgyz Report: September 24, 1999

24 September 1999

Security Council Secretary General Bolot Januzakov told journalists in Bishkek on 24 September that the situation in the three troubled districts of Osh region (the Batken, Chong-Alai and Kadamjai districts) has been relatively calm for the last 24 hours. Kyrgyz government troops have taken full control of areas near the town of Khaidarken where clashes occurred earlier this week. According to Januzakov, most of the hostages are held at Chat near the village of Kojo-Ashkan and there are now 700 to 750 rebels. There are about 200 residents left in the villages of Zardaly, Kojo-Ashkan and Raut which are occupied by the rebels.

The head of the Kadamjai district administration, Dokturbek Kurmanaliev, told an RFE/RL correspondent on 24 September that security in the villages and on the main roads in the district as well as at the antimony plant in Kadamjai and mercury factory in Khaidarken has been reinforced. According to Kurmanaliev, a religious extremist who is an Uzbek citizen has been detained in the town of Khaidarken.

Presidential spokesman Kanybek ImanAliyev said in Bishkek on 24 September that President Askar Akayev held a phone conversation that day with Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi of Japan. According to Imanaliev, Akayev said Kyrgyzstan is doing its best to release the four Japanese geologists taken hostage by the Islamic rebels in Kyrgyzstan on 22 August. Akayev congratulated Obuchi on his re-election as leader of the Liberal Democratic Party.

Security Council Secretary General Bolot Januzakov announced in Bishkek on 24 September that Kyrgyzstan has already received technical support from Armenia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. According to presidential spokesman Imanaliev, President Akayev has received a letter from Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov. Karimov says Uzbekistan supports Kyrgyzstan in its efforts against the rebels and is ready to give any help.

Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev took part in a meeting of the CIS Customs Union prime ministers in Astana on 24 September. According to an RFE/RL correspondent in Astana, the strengthening of economic cooperation within the union and the formation of a common economic space were discussed at the meeting. Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan are members of the CIS Customs Union.

MurAliyev also met separately with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Kazakhstan's Premier Nurlan Balghymbaev to discuss the situation in southern Kyrgyzstan. Putin said Russia fully backs the efforts of the Kyrgyz government to stabilize the situation.

Presidential spokesman Kanybek ImanAliyev announced in Bishkek on 24 September that President Askar Akayev signed a new decree on changes to passport regulations the previous day. According to it, the arrival and departure registration of foreign citizens in Kyrgyzstan as well as the movement of Kyrgyz citizens inside the country will be more strictly regulated. People without citizenship must also be registered. According to Imanaliev, the new decree does not violate other Kyrgyz laws and will help to restrict illegal migration.

According to the parliamentary press service, the Legislative Assembly did not discuss the situation in southern Kyrgyzstan on 24 September, as had been planned before. The discussion was postponed until 27 September as Defense Minister Esen Topoev could not attend the session. The Assembly also failed on 24 September to pass a law draft on terrorism, which it sent back to the government for revision.

The other parliamentary house, the People's Assembly, will convene for its next session late in October.

The office of the UN High Commissioner on Refugees announced in Bishkek on 24 September that 786 Tajik refugees left Kyrgyzstan for Tajikistan in 1999. The total number of Tajik refugees who returned home in 1998-1999 with the help of the UNHCR is 2,734, and 150 more refugees are planning to return to Tajikistan in October.

An international seminar on parliamentarisn in countries in transition began in the resort town of Cholpon-Ata on 24 September. It is organized by the office of the UN Development Program and the Kyrgyz parliament, and experts from Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Ukraine are taking part in it.

According to local authorities, the situation in the Batken, Chong-Alai and Kadamjai districts in Southern Kyrgyzstan was relatively calm for the last 24 hours. However, presidential press secretary Kanybek ImanAliyev announced in Bishkek on 23 September that government troops shelled rebel positions near the villages of Sai and Syrt the previous day using Grad artillery. According to ImanAliyev there were probably casualties among the rebels.

Kanybek ImanAliyev and Security Ministry directorate head Talant Razzakov denied a report that Kazakh warplanes had bombed the rebel positions in the Kyzyl-Ashkan canyon on 23 September. ITAR-TASS agency reported on the morning of 23 September that "missile and bombing strikes have been made on militants stationed in the Khodzha-Achkan gorge in the south of Kyrgyzstan". It is believed that some hostages are held near the village of Kojo-Ashkan.

According to the governmental press service, the first military equipment from Russia arrived in Kyrgyzstan on 23 September.

According to an RFE/RL correspondent in Batken, two more rebel field commanders were killed during the clashes last weekend. The local Kyrgyz authorities say their names were Mukin and Jaffar. A fourth field commander, Mohammad Ruzi, was wounded severely during the same clashes. Field commander Abdulaziz Yuldashev was killed on 18 September during the clashes near Syrt and Sai villages in Batken district.

A total of 21 Kyrgyz citizens, 17 of them military servicemen, have been killed since the rebel crisis began on 22 August. Four civilian, including a child, were killed during the bombing of the Kara-Teyit village in Chong-Alai district by Uzbek warplanes on 29 September.

Human Rights Movement of Kyrgyzstan chairman Tursunbek Akunov told an RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek on 23 September that he will depart with two aides later that day to meet with the rebel high commanders. He did not specify where the meeting will be held. It will be the third round of unofficial negotiations with the rebels. First, Akunov reached the mountainous base of the rebels in Batken district late in August and spent more than two weeks there. He brought two letters back with him to Bishkek: one from Kyrgyz General Anarbek Shamkeev and four Japanese geologists that they are alive, and a letter from rebel commander Yunus Abdrakmanov, who offered negotiations with the Kyrgyz government.

On 13-14 September, Akunov returned to the rebel base and held a second round of negotiations with Abdrakmanov. However, he was not allowed to meet the hostages personally. There are now 13 people held hostage by the rebels: a Kyrgyz general, his aide, his guard, four Japanese geologists, their interpreter, and five Kyrgyz policemen. According to local residents, the five policemen have been moved to the rebel base in neighboring Tajikistan, the other hostages are held at Shiber near the Kyrgyz village of Kojo-Ashkan.

The governmental press service announced in Bishkek on 23 September that Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev would attend the meeting of prime ministers of the CIS Customs Union member states to be held in the Kazakh capital, Astana, on 24 September. He will be accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Esengul Omuraliev, Foreign Minister Muratbek ImanAliyev and other officials. The formation of a common CIS economic zone will be the main subject of discussion.

MurAliyev will also hold separate meetings in Astana with Kazakh Prime Minister Nurlan Balgimbaev and Russian Premier Vladimir Putin.

According to an official of the state commission on drug control, Almaz Garifullin, a meeting of the Central Asian commission on drug traffic began in Bishkek on 23 September. The foreign ministers of the Central Asian states will gather in Bishkek on 5-6 October to discuss the same problem.

According to the governmental press service, a Malaysian government delegation arrived in Bishkek on 23 September. They will take part in a meeting of the Kyrgyz-Malaysian joint commission on economical cooperation.

The Bishkek city administration announced on 23 September that an agreement on cooperation with the ITT company of Italy was signed in Bishkek that day. According to the agreement, a rubbish processing plant will be constructed in Bishkek. It will be put into operation next spring. The Italian side will invest $100 million in the project.

Security Council Secretary General Bolot Januzakov announced in Bishkek on 22 September that the situation in southern Kyrgyzstan had been relatively calm for the last 24 hours. However, according to him, there were minor clashes in the Gazian canyon near the village of Syrt in Chong-Alai district the previous night. One soldier was wounded. There is no report on casualties from the rebel side.

Januzakov also said government troops are being trained in Batken in preparation for a military action against the rebels. The rebels took 13 hostages a month ago, including a Kyrgyz general, four Japanese geologists and five Kyrgyz policemen. The rebels have also occupied several villages in the mountainous southern part of Batken district, near the border with Tajikistan. According to local authorities, there are about 300 residents left in the villages of Zardaly and Kojo-Ashkan, which are occupied by the rebels.

The rebels began an attack on the governmental troop positions on 18 September in an attempt to break through from Kyrgyzstan into Uzbekistan. Clashes have also taken place near the Kyrgyz-Uzbek state border in recent days. Kyrgyzstan has lost at least 16 servicemen killed since 18 September. About 5,000 refugees from the villages occupied by the rebels as well as from the neighboring villages have gathered in the administrative centres of the Batken and Kadamjai districts.

The parliamentary press service announced in Bishkek on 22 September that the Legislative Assembly would discuss the current situation in southern Kyrgyzstan on 24 September. People's Assembly deputy Dosbol Nur Uulu will report to the session. He has visited the region recently and told RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek on 22 September that the local residents want to form volunteer corps to protect their villages and are demanding arms which both the local and the national authorities refuse to give them. Dosbol Nur Uulu says that General Januzakov told him the government will not arm the local population.

The Legislative Assembly discussed the situation on 1-8 September for the first time and decided to strengthen the state borders, to increase financing to the law enforcement bodies and to construct new roads in the border regions of the country.

According to Dosbol Nur Uulu, the rebels are preparing for the winter, providing themselves with food and fuel and making fortifications.

According to the governmental press service, a Kyrgyz governmental delegation including Finance Minister Sultan Mederov, acting chairman of the National Bank Ulan Sarbanov and director of the National Commission on Foreign Investments Urkalyi Isaev is currently in Washington, DC, taking part in the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. According to the press service, the delegation might announce that due to current hostage crisis in the country, some World Bank projects in Kyrgyzstan will be not implemented.

A government meeting in Bishkek on 22 assessed the social and economic situation in the country as satisfactory. It was announced at the meeting that wages arrears for 1999 currently amounts to 118 million soms (about $3 million). In addition, the government owes 29 million soms for social allowances for 1999, and 10 million soms to the National Social Fund.