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Kyrgyz PM Meets Kumtor Protesters; Services Restored At Gold Mine


Protesters gather as smoke rises near the main point of confrontation with police on the main road to Kumtor gold mine on May 31, when clashes injured dozens of people.
Kyrgyzstan’s Prime Minister Zhantoro Satybaldiyev has visited the northern district that has been in a state of emergency since protesters and police clashed near the country’s biggest gold mine, Kumtor.

In his meeting with local residents, Satybaldiyev on June 1 pledged that the government would study protesters' demands.

Satybaldiyev also reported speaking with representatives of the Canadian-run mining company, who confirmed that electricity had been restored early on June 1 after the cutoff by angry protesters of a local power station on May 30, according to RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service.

"I can’t promise you to change the existing agreement [between Kyrgyz authorities and Centerra Gold] in a matter of a day. I cannot, in a matter of one day, sort out all of these issues that have existed for the last 20 years," Satybaldiyev said. "You have inspired me and I promise to defend the interests of Kyrgyzstan [regarding Kumtor]."

The Central Asian News Service quoted government sources saying officials secured a promise that protesters would neither block the road to the mining operations nor cut off electricity to the facility again.
Protesters in Barskook, near the Kumtor mining operations, show shotgun shells after the main clashes on May 31.
Protesters in Barskook, near the Kumtor mining operations, show shotgun shells after the main clashes on May 31.

The mine accounts for about 12 percent of Kyrgyzstan's gross domestic product.

More than 50 people were wounded and 80 others detained in the May 31 clashes in the Jety-Oguz district that is home to the mining operations in the northern Tian Shan mountains.

FEATURE: Questioning The Environmental Cost Of The Kumtor Gold Mine

Protesters are demanding better ecological standards, accusing the Canadian-based owners from Centerra Gold Company of ruining the environment, and free medical facilities.

The demonstrations began earlier in the week when protesters blocked the main road leading to the mine and cut off the power supply.

The state of emergency and overnight curfew was declared for the Jety-Oguz district until June 10.

Meanwhile, people gathered near the national government's headquarters in Bishkek on June 1 to support the Kumtor protesters and demand that authorities release "true information" about developments at the mine.

In the country's south, a siege was continuing in the city of Jalal-Abad, where hundreds of people stormed the governor's office on May 31 in support of the Kumtor protesters.

Local officials said they were negotiating in an effort to persuade them to leave the government building.

With reporting by akipress, 24kg, Central Asian News Service, Interfax, and Reuters