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Kyrgyz Report: December 10, 1999

10 December 1999

The New York based Human Rights Watch issued yesterday its annual report on the human rights situation in the countries of the world. In the part of the report on Kyrgyzstan, it is said: "The year 1999 was a troubled one for Kyrgyzstan. Armed clashes with militants in the south of the country put the region in crisis. Torture in police custody continued, as did widespread trafficking of women into forced prostitution abroad. The government's adoption of a flawed election law and its ongoing campaign against the independent media continued a downward trend in respect for human rights in Kyrgyzstan."

The report mentions the governmental actions against the independent Asaba weekly, the Res Publica weekly, the Vecherni Bishkek daily and the Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights in 1999-1999.

According to the report, some clauses of the newly adopted Electoral Code are not good: "On June 24, the government adopted a new electoral code. While containing numerous praiseworthy clauses that safeguard the transparency of the electoral process, a clause excluding candidates convicted of an administrative or criminal offense from standing for public office left the code open to politically motivated abuse."

As a positive move, it is mentioned that President Akaev signed a decree imposing a two-year moratorium on the death penalty on 5 December 1998.

Government departmental head Melis Bekkoionov told RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek on 10 December that natural gas deliveries from Uzbekistan would be resumed soon. According to him, "the Kyrgyz government has already repaid almost the all currency-part of its debt and the commodity-part would be repaid soon".

However, Chairman of the Human Rights Movement of Kyrgyzstan Tursunbek Akunov held a news conference in Bishkek on 10 December and told journalists that the gas issue is a political one. According to Akunov, Uzbekistan cut gas deliveries to Kyrgyzstan due to the last rebel-crisis in southern Kyrgyzstan. That is why President Askar Akayev should directly negotiate the problem with Uzbek President Islam Karimov. Akunov said he departs to Tashkent on 12 December to try to resolve the problem using "people's diplomacy".

Chairman of the El (Bei-Bechara) Party, Melis Eshimkanov announced in Bishkek on 10 December that several parties could unite in a political bloc soon. He mentioned the Bei-Bechara, the Ar-Namys, the Democratic Movement of Kyrgyzstan, the Agrarian and the Republican parties. According to Eshimkanov, prominent politician Chinara Jakypova could lead the bloc. However, each of the mentioned parties should make decisions on joining the bloc at their forthcoming congresses.

The Congress of the Bei-Bechara party will be held in Bishkek on 11 December. According to Eshimkanov, the regulations of the party will be amended at the congress. Also, MP Daniyar Usenov could be elected the new chairman instead of Eshimkanov.

Professor Chinara Jakypova served as minister of education and resigned in 1993 protesting President Askar Akayev's policy in the education sector. Later, she became chairwoman of the Soros-Kyrgyzstan Foundation but resigned early this year.

According to the governmental press service, a Turkish delegation led by Minister Abdulhaluk Chai has arrived in Bishkek. They met with President Askar Akayev and Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev in Bishkek on 10 December. Bilateral economic and trade relations between the two states were discussed. The delegation will stay in Bishkek till 15 December and will meet with leaders of the finance ministry and the state property fund as well as leaders of the Issyk-Kul and Osh provinces and some industrial enterprises.

According to the governmental press service, an agreement on a joint project on stable human development between the Kyrgyz government and the UNDP office in Bishkek was signed on 10 December. The UNDP will give $310,000 for the 3-year project.

On 10 December, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs held a special seminar "Bases of Business" in Bishkek for people who want to be engaged in small and medium business. According to the ministry, similar seminars will be held in the all country provinces soon.

Former vice president of Kyrgyzstan Felix Kulov held a briefing at the RFE/RL office in Washington on 8 December. He said he is concerned about the fairness of the parliamentary elections to be held in Kyrgyzstan on 20 February 2000. According to Kulov, he would have to comply with complicated procedures to be registered as a candidate to parliament. He has the right to run for parliament as an independent candidate because his party has been in existence for less than a year and it has been barred from participating in the elections.

Kulov said he maintains a friendly personal relationship with Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev. However, asked whether he thinks the February parliamentary elections would be fair, he said: "My answer is if our president wants it, he can have free elections in Kyrgyzstan." Also, Kulov said: "As many American observers call it, what exists in Kyrgyzstan right now is soft totalitarianism."

According to the Foreign Ministry, a delegation of the OSCE office on human rights and democratic institutions in Warsaw will arrive in Bishkek next week. They will discuss with Kyrgyz authorities the preparations to hold democratic and fair elections next February.

President Akayev's office has announced recently that the situation similar to the one neighboring Uzbekistan during the last elections, when the OSCE refused to send its observers to Uzbekistan, would not be repeated in Kyrgyztan.

The Foreign Ministry announced in Bishkek on 9 December that the Kyrgyz ambassador to Germany, Apas Jumagulov had signed an agreement with a German governmental body for development and reconstruction. According to the agreement, Kyrgyzstan will receive 2 million DMs in technical assistance, which will be used for reforms in health care service and construction of mini-hydro power stations in Kyrgyzstan.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the newly appointed Kyrgyz Ambassador to the United Nations, Elmira Ibraimova, met with Secretary General Kofi Annan last week and handed him her credential papers. Relations between the UN and Kyrgyzstan were discussed during the meeting. Ibraimova was appointed to the post on 4 September replacing Zamira Eshmambetova.

The parliamentary committee on foreign investments and economic reforms held in Bishkek on 9 December a round-table discussion on the economic situation in the country. A new law draft on export control was also discussed. According to committee chairman Omurzak Mamayusupov, if the law is adopted foreign trade of Kyrgyzstan and foreign investments to the country will be put in good order.

Chairwoman of the Fund to Support Small Business, Kamila Kenenbaeva held a news conference in Bishkek on 9 December. According to her, the fund financed 219 business projects in 1998-1999. Their total cost is 18 million soms (about $400,000). However, 483 more projects (74 million soms total) are stalled now due to financial problems.

The Moscow based Moskovskiy Komsomolets daily carried on 9 December an article about Adil Toigonbaev, son-in-law of President Askar Akayev. According to the paper, Toigonbaev has gained under his control almost all Kyrgyz energetics, transport, communications, alcohol industry and air service. In addition, he is controlling the privatization process in the sugar and cotton industries too. According to the paper, Felix Kulov had to resign from the post of mayor of Bishkek due to pressure from Toigonbaev.

Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev held a closed governmental meeting in Bishkek on 8 December. According to spokesman Farid Niyazov, it was devoted to problems of back pensions, social allowances and other budgetary payments. Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Imankadyr RysAliyev and Chairwoman of the National Social Fund Roza Aknazarova reported to the meeting.

According to them, the government owes citizens 112 million soms (about $2.5 million) for pensions and 50 million soms for social allowances. In addition, the government owes the health care sector 54 million soms and 54 million soms to the educational sector. It was decided at the meeting that the government would begin the bankruptcy procedures against the enterprises, which do not pay fees to the Social Fund.

First Deputy Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Arzymat Sulaimankulov held a briefing for journalists in Bishkek on 8 December. He took part in the third meeting of the Kyrgyz-Malaysian inter-governmental economical commission, held in Kuala-Lumpur late in November. According to Sulaimankulov, it has been agreed with the Malaysian government to prepare several agreements, including an agreement on avoiding double taxation, setting air communications, formation of a special investment fund and others. The drafts of agreements have also been discussed and they are now being prepared for signing.

A meeting on results of the last public polling held last August was held in the State Philharmonic Society in Bishkek on 8 December. State Secretary Naken Kasiev, First Vice Prime Minister Boris Silaev, UNDP representative in Bishkek Anne Sharleklint attended.

According to the poll, the most popular papers in the country are: 1. "The Vecherni Bishkek" daily (in Russian), 2. "The Asaba" weekly (in Kyrgyz), 3. "The Delo # �" weekly (in Russian). Head of the vox poluli center, supported by the UNDP, is Elvira Elebezova. Main results of the poll were released in October.