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Kyrgyz Report: October 15, 1999

15 October 1999

President Askar Akaev visited the Kara-Teyit village of Chong-Alai district on 15 October where he met with local residents and authorities. The village was accidentally bombed on 29 August by Uzbek warplanes targeting the rebels. Four Kyrgyz citizens were killed in that attack and about 10 people injured, and about 40 houses damaged. All the reconstruction works have been completed. Chong-Alai is a district in the newly formed Batken region.

According to the presidential press service, President Akaev will visit Jalal-Abad region on 16 October to attend the 25th anniversary celebration of the Toktogul hydro-electric power station.

According to the Defense Ministry, the government troops have taken the Tilbe pass, which is at an altitude of over 4,000 meters, under their control. According to an earlier announcement, the rebels were leaving Kyrgyz territory for neighboring Tajikistan via this pass. Special border guard units have been deployed at the pass as well as in the villages of Zardaly, Korgon, Kojo-Ashkan, which the guerrillas recently vacated, taking with them seven hostages including a Kyrgyz general and four Japanese geologists.

According to local authorities, there are now 2,348 refugees left in and around the town of Batken. Since 10 October, 1,037 refugees have returned to the villages of Palal-Ooz, Raut, Tunuk-Suu, Sary-Talaa.

Parliament deputy Tursunbai Bakir Uulu, who is mediating between the Kyrgyz government and the guerrillas, told an RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek on 15 October that he has not received any answer from the Japanese government yet.

At a news conference in Bishkek the previous day, Bakir Uulu announced that talks should be held between the Uzbek government and the opposition Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to secure the release of the Japanese hostages. He said the Japanese government should bring pressure to bear on the Uzbek government to negotiate with the rebels. Bakir Uulu said that he met with Japanese ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Hidekata Mitsuhasi on 13 October and discussed this possibility with him. According to Bakir Uulu, if Japan does not take urgent measures, the lives of the Japanese hostages will be in danger. The ambassador said if the Japanese government does not want to be involved, he would have to go to meet the rebel leaders again and try to release the remaining three Kyrgyz hostages. But ITAR-TASS agency reported from Tokyo on 15 October that Foreign Minister Yohei Kono of Japan has announced that talks with rebels on release of hostages "is put in a decisive phase."

According to Bakir Uulu, he met in an unnamed Islamic state with the leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Tahir Yuldashev, who sent a message asking the Japanese government to conduct negotiations through Bakir Uulu. Yuldashev agreed with him that the rebels in Kyrgyzstan would stop fighting and leave the Zardaly and Korgon villages. The rebels kept their promise and left the villages on 4 October. Bakir Uulu also said members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan are not involved in drug smuggling.

Bakir Uulu holds the rank of Ambassador and is Chairman of the Presidential Commission on Human Rights.

According to the presidential press service, President Askar Akaev has signed a special decree awarding Helmut Buss, representative in Kyrgyzstan of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, with the Diploma of the Kyrgyz Republic for his fruitful activity in Kyrgyzstan.

Parliamentary deputy Tursunbai Bakir Uulu held a news conference in Bishkek on 14 October at which he announced that in talks with the leaders of the guerrillas he has secured the release of five Kyrgyz hostages whom he brought back to Bishkek. The Defense Ministry announced in Bishkek the previous day that Bakir Uulu had liberated only four hostages.

Tursunbai Bakir Uulu told journalists that one Kyrgyz hostage had been killed by the rebels before 4 October, but did not name him. The rebels still hold seven hostages, including Kyrgyz General Anarbek Shamkeev and four Japanese geologists who were captured in Kyrgyzstan late in August.

Bakir Uulu said he met with Shamkeev personally at a mountainous rebel base on the border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. According to him, Shamkeev has heart problems and needs serious medical treatment. The four Japanese geologists are alive.

Tursunbai Bakir Uulu has brought a new appeal to the Kyrgyz government, signed by Zubair Ibn Abdurrahim, who calls himself the Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. He says in the appeal that the Movement has nothing against Kyrgyzstan and its President Akaev, but is fighting against Islam Karimov's government in Uzbekistan. The Movement wants to release some hostages and has decided to announce a unilateral cease-fire. But if Kyrgyzstan and some of its politicians as well as some media organizations continue to help the Uzbek government, the mojaheds could fight against them too. Zubair Ibn Abdurrahim sent his first appeal to the Kyrgyz government early in September.

The Moscow based "Vremya-MN" on 14 October carries an interview with Uzbek President Islam Karimov, who says that it is possible to negotiate only with normal people but not with bandits. However, some Kyrgyz so-called human rights activists meet with the rebels. The rebels have transported arms and drugs through Kyrgyz territory for a long time, Karimov claimed. He said local Kyrgyz people have helped the rebels and even have married their daughters to them. According to Karimov, it is not true that the rebels only want to fight the Uzbek government, as some Kyrgyz politicians claim. He said that any respected country must guard its state frontiers. According to Karimov, most of the rebels on Kyrgyz territory are members of the United Tajik Opposition.

President Askar Akaev addressed a joint session of the two parliamentary houses on 14 October. His speech was devoted to social and economic developments in the country in 1999 and in 2000, and security issues. Akaev said that Kyrgyz government must end the year 1999 without any debts for salaries, pensions and other social payments. According to him, the government began the year 1999 with about 1,000-million-som debt (about $40 million in the beginning of 1999) for the previous year.

Referring to the current rebel crisis, President Akaev said the defense ministry has calculated that 1,500 million soms (about $36 million) are needed for measures to strengthen national security. According to the president, it is a big sum for the country and the government will implement a program of security measures step by step, spending these $3.6 million over a period of four years. Akaev said that the government has already spent about 200 million soms (about $5 million) dealing with the rebel-crisis since last August and will spend a further100 million soms by the end of 1999.

President Akaev told the session that the southern regions have received since August more than 10-million-som (about $250,000) humanitarian aid, sent from different regions and cities of the country as well as from abroad.

Akaev said the previous day he signed a special decree appointing parliament deputy Mamat Aibalayev governor of the new Batken region. The Security Council chaired by Akaev decided on 5 October to divide three districts from Osh oblast and form a new, seventh, region from them to strengthen security of the southern regions. Both chambers of parliament have already approved that decision.

According to the Defence Ministry on 13 October, government troops have taken control over the village of Kojo-Ashkan and about half of the Kojo-Ashkan gorge. There were no serious clashes with the rebels during the operation and no casualties on the government side. According to the ministry, the rebels are leaving Kyrgyz territory for neighboring Tajikistan through the Tilbe pass and taking the hostages along with them.

On 13 October the parliamentary Legislative Assembly approved a law draft on forming a new region in the country. 25 deputies out of nominally 35 attended the session and 22 of them approved the draft.

Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev and Security Council Secretary General Bolot Januzakov reported to the session. Deputies Adaham Madumarov, Alevtina Pronenko and Daniyar Usenov told the session that formation of the new region would have little impact on strengthening security issues and the action is a political one only. Deputy Ishenbai Kadyrbekov said it would have been enough to give the Batken, Kadamjai and Leilek districts special status within Osh Oblast.

The Security Council chaired by President Akaev decided on 5 October to divide the Batken, Kadamjai and Leilek districts from the Osh Oblast to make up the Batken Oblast. The People's Assembly approved that decision on 12 October.

Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev chaired a government meeting in Bishkek on 12 October at which Finance Minister Sultan Mederov said that the draft state budget for 2000 should be amended and the government needs to find an additional 200 million soms (about $5 million) for the new Batken oblast. According to Mederov, about 160 officials will work in the new Batken region and about 12 million soms (about $300,000) will be spent yearly for administration of the region. The government will present the amended draft budget to parliament soon.

According to the presidential press service, President Askar Akaev received top Russian human rights official Oleg Mironov in Bishkek on 12 October and discussed with him the human rights situation and the current hostage crisis in the south of the country. Mironov also met in Bishkek with the Foreign Minister and chairpersons of the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court and the Court of Arbitration.

According to the government on 13 October, the harvest from 86.6 percent of the sowed area has been completed so far. 1,575,000 metric tons of grain (including 1,155,000 tons of wheat) has been collected, which the government says is enough for the annual needs of the country. About 1.7 million tons of grain were collected in the country in 1997 and 1998.

The Moscow-based "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 13 October published an interview with the chairman of the Ar-Namys party, Felix Kulov, former vice president of Kyrgyzstan, minister of national security and former mayor of Bishkek. Kulov says that the posts of president and prime minister should again be combined as they were until 1993. According to the current constitution, the president does not report to anybody on economic situation in the country, while the prime minister has little power to manage the economy. Kulov also argued that the parliament should form the government and elect the president.