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Kyrgyz Lawmakers OK Bill On Amendments To Russian Military Base Agreement

A ceremony at the Kant air base in November 2019
A ceremony at the Kant air base in November 2019

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz lawmakers have approved a bill ratifying a Kyrgyz-Russian protocol amending an agreement on the usage of Russia's military base in the Central Asian nation.

According to the bill approved in its third and final reading on June 12, Russia's annual fee for renting land for its combined military base in Kyrgyzstan will be increased.

The bill was introduced after a topographic survey of the land rented by the Russian military base found it to be 58.32 hectares more than the area specified in the lease agreement.

After the amount of rented territory is amended, the current annual rental fee of $4,502,495 will be increased by $291,600, according to the bill.

The bill stirred controversy in Kyrgyzstan after some Internet users questioned the lease agreement, according to which the runway at Russia's military air base in the northern Kyrgyz city of Kant would be owned by the Russian side during renovation works and after such works are finished.

Meanwhile, the bill says that "the General Staff of the Kyrgyz Armed Forces has outlined amendments to...the agreement that envisions a return to the Kyrgyz side of the facilities after the document’s expiration date."

"Additionally, the runway's buildings have been included to the list of joint [Kyrgyz-Russian] use," the bill says.

Russia's air base at Kant was opened in 2003 under the auspices of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which includes Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan.

A U.S. air base outside the capital, Bishkek, began hosting U.S. troops in 2001 as part of the military campaign in nearby Afghanistan, but Kyrgyzstan shut it in 2014 amid pressure from Moscow.

In 2017, the Kant air base and three other Russian military facilities in Kyrgyzstan were consolidated into a single combined base.