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(Corr) Kyrgyz presidential candidates' TV debate - full report
[Presenter in Kyrgyz] Good evening, dear TV viewers. We will begin the first live TV debate of Kyrgyz presidential candidates on the National TV and Radio Broadcasting Corporation. Presidential candidates Toktayym Umetaliyeva [leader of the Association of nongovernmental and noncommercial organizations] and Dzhypar Dzheksheyev [leader of the Democratic Movement of Kyrgyzstan party] will take part in today's TV debate.
[Passage omitted: repeat in Russian; the candidates' brief biographies] [Presenter] In accordance with the results of a lot drawn to decide who will speak first, we welcome Dzhypar Dzheksheyev. The topic of today's debate is the redistribution of property in the country. Above all, I want to ask you a very brief question if it is really necessary to review the privatization results? You have one minute to answer this question.
[Dzheksheyev] I think that the 24 March people's revolution is not an accidental phenomenon. It was the redistribution of property and illegal privatization that caused it. Therefore, everything that was illegally privatized is subject to review and everything which was privatized legally should not be reviewed. Re-privatization should not be an end in itself. This concerns only one thing - we should restore justice.
[Presenter] Thanks. Toktayym Umetaliyeva, you can also express your view. [Umetaliyeva] I think that it is practically impossible to say Yes or No to this question at once. We should go back and consider how the privatization was carried out in order to answer this question. I believe that above all, we should be guided by the Kyrgyz Republic's Constitution which declared the right for private property. It is a different matter whether the process of privatization has ended. The first stage of the privatization started in 1991-1994. Houses were privatized in the private sector. The second phase was in 1994-1997. Medium-size facilities were privatized during this time. The very important year was 1998. We adopted a resolution privatizing farmland at that time. We also started restructuring strategic facilities. There should be a special approach to each case. Social facilities and medium-size industrial facilities which were bought by people and which are still used in a wrong way may be re-privatized. [Presenter] Do you consider it necessary to review these facilities or should they remain unchanged? [Umetaliyeva] It is wrong to say that they should be reviewed or not reviewed. Therefore, first of all, we should look into how the privatization was carried out. This should be done in three stages. [Presenter] Your time has run out. Dear TV viewers, prior to the beginning of our programme, we polled the experts and guests who are taking part in today's debate on this issue. According to the poll results, 82 per cent of these people think that the privatization should be reviewed and 18 per cent of them think that the privatization should not be reviewed. As far as I understood, Dzhypar Dzheksheyev says that it should be reviewed, whereas Toktayym Umetaliyeva says that everything should remain unchanged. So, dear TV viewers, Dzhypar Dzheksheyev's idea matches 100 per cent that of the audience. However, Toktayym Umetaliyeva's view differs slightly. Now, I will give the floor to Dzhypar Dzheksheyev. [Passage omitted: procedure for entering into a debate with the audience]
[Dzheksheyev] I think the number one task in my programme is to build a people's state, i.e. all the actions of the authorities - the president, the government and parliament - should be under the civil society's, people's control. I therefore suggest that a special law on the people's congress be adopted. The most objective, honest and morally decent Kyrgyz citizens from each village and each town should be elected to this people's congress so that every year they could set the president, parliament and government the specific tasks that worry them, so that they really become the possessors of power as is written in our constitution. The constitution says the people are the source of power. In reality the people take part in forming the government once every five years during parliamentary and presidential elections. At other times nobody hears or sees you [people]. You are left on your own with your problems. I, therefore, think that the people should take control of all the authorities' actions and they [the authorities] should be answerable to the people. This is a fundamentally new approach. This is my main task.
[Passage omitted: Dzheksheyev insists on revising unlawfully privatized facilities; Umetaliyeva insists on taking a cautious approach to this issue]
[Question by a police officer through a video link from the southern town of Osh] I am a police officer from the Osh regional police department. My surname is Teshebayev. My question is about providing logistical support to police officers. Police officers receive salaries equal to a [monthly] minimum wage. They are not provided with vehicles and communications equipment in full. Ward police officers especially in villages do not have their own offices and communications equipment to maintain public order. My second question is about the social provision of police officers. Nurlan Sadiyev [a police officer from Osh; died in a grenade attack] died while performing his duties in 2004. His family has still not received compensation. How you will resolve these issues if you are elected as president in the future?
[Question] My surname is Ashyrbayev. My question is about laws on law-enforcement agencies. As for laws on regulating business enterprise, we still apply enactments of the former Soviet laws. [Dzheksheyev] There are economic reforms and tax reforms. According to our estimates, if the reforms are carried out successfully we may increase wages and pensions by 100 per cent. [Umetaliyeva] The system of law-enforcement agencies needs reforming. We have started reforming the Interior Ministry. I have taken part in advancing a project to provide support to the Interior Ministry. We have received 3.5m euros through an OSCE project. This money should go to equip and support [the police]. However, I think that it is necessary to cut the number of [police] personnel and raise their professional skills. Accordingly, we may also increase salaries through this project. I think that in this regard, the power-wielding structures should be restructured and reformed and salaries should be increased by cutting [the number of law-enforcement personnel] and transferring them [police officers] to the [jurisdiction of] municipal sector.
[Question] My name is Sveta Iskaharova Volodina. I want to ask both presidential candidates a question. You know, our country has a land code which says all mineral resources belong to the state. [Break in reception].
[Dzheksheyev] Anything that belongs to the people should not be taken away. Their property should remain intact. There is no need to raise this issue. What matters is a different thing - cases of dubious people using and leasing very large land areas - several hundred hectares, dozens of hectares. I encountered these cases when I was the chairman of the state commission in charge of settling issues connected with the seizure of land plots [in Bishkek in March 2005]. These people have not even paid taxes over the past 15 years. Such dubious land plots should be reconsidered because their actual owners are on the seventh floor [presidential administration is on this floor] at Government House. [Presenter] Specifically, are you speaking about today's Government House or yesterday's [Akayev's government] or this does not make any difference? [Dzheksheyev] This does not make any difference. All those who were at Government House yesterday are continuing to work there today. Therefore this does not make any difference. [Passage omitted: a joint commission comprised of civil society activists and state officials should be set up to check land plots]
[Question by an unknown man] I want to ask both candidates a question. Organized criminal groups are increasingly taking an active part in the redistribution of private property. How would you stop this if you come to power?
[Dzheksheyev] We have seen that state officials maintain very good relations with leaders of criminal groups. If we, the authorities, arrest a criminal group and maintain order on our own without cooperating with criminal groups, there will be no scandal, dispute, or bloodshed over the distribution of private property as today. Above all, we should stop corruption among the authorities in our state. Currently criminal groups are interwoven with the authorities. [Presenter] Which authorities, the previous or the current ones? [Dzheksheyev] I want to reiterate that from 70 to 80 per cent of the former authorities [who worked in ousted President Askar Akayev's government] remain among the current authorities. Therefore this does not make any difference. [Passage omitted: repeat]
[Volodina, a woman attending the TV debate] I would like to know your opinion. Why should agricultural producers have to pay VAT for milk and bread?
[Dzheksheyev] You have raised a very topical issue. We should abolish VAT. What you are saying is unfair. You should not pay it. This is an unfair tax. [Passage omitted: Dzheksheyev repeats his answer in Kyrgyz]
[Question by an unknown man] If we talk about Central Asian states, they have specific state policies towards us. What can you say about Kyrgyzstan's specific priorities in its foreign policy? What should our main focus be?
[Dzheksheyev] Traditionally, we have for centuries been connected with Russia and other neighbouring countries. From the economic point of view, we have to cooperate with these countries and it is profitable for us to cooperate with them. As for democratic values, we should take them from democratically advanced countries. I think these are two criteria [to be followed]. [Presenter] Thank you. You [Umetaliyeva] may or may not answer this question. [Umetaliyeva] The process of integration between Central Asian countries in the light of geopolitical processes is very important. Since the change of the ruling elite has started [in Kyrgyzstan], it is important that the change of the ruling elite pass smoothly in each country [in the region]. Otherwise, any possible danger to other country may affect us too. [Passage omitted: a short video report about the Meerim charity foundation which was headed by the former president's wife, Mayram Akayeva] [Presenter] Please comment on the report, then we will have another ad. Dzhypar Dzheksheyev speaks: [Dzheksheyev] There are about 2,000 foundations in Kyrgyzstan. All foundations including the Meerim foundation should have equal rights and operate under equal conditions. [Passage omitted: allegations about the foundation] [Passage omitted: Dzheksheyev and Umetaliyeva say educational centres of the foundation in regions should be preserved for the sake of children] [Presenter] We still have time left before the ad. Please, your final address to the voters and remember how much time you have left. [Passage omitted: another presenter repeats his colleague]
[Dzheksheyev] Dear voters, I want to appeal to you all that we should not forget that the coming presidential elections are decisive for the future development of Kyrgyzstan. We are today at a crossroads. The future of our children and the future of our country depend on how you will chose [a future president], how you will take part [in the presidential elections] and how you will succeed in protecting [your votes] so that the authorities do not steal your votes as before. Therefore, we all should remember one thing that we should be active citizens of our country. Our indifference and devil-may-care attitude and the principle it has nothing to do with me will destroy us. This attitude will allow the authorities - whoever they may be - to abuse and manipulate your votes and garner the required number of votes to push through their own people. We have already encountered violations during the present new authorities too. The full official backing is being given to one candidate. There should be nothing like this. We should draw the appropriate correct conclusions and learn a correct lesson from the past in order not to repeat what happened on 24 March [former President Askar Akayev was ousted and major shopping centres were looted in Bishkek]. We should live in peace so that people should not go to streets to rally. Of course, we could not familiarize the voters with our programme properly over a short time, because a question was asked in specific context and we had to answer it. We should just think: what have you been doing over the [past] 15 years? What position have you been holding? Did you tell Akayev the truth or sat in your office quietly and are becoming a hero today? Or have you been fighting this disgrace and mess all these years? [Passage omitted: A man cannot change over a short time]
We should not commend them [the authorities]. We should criticize them. We should openly tell them all the truth in order not to repeat the mistake which Akayev made. After all, we applauded even if he was not right 100 per cent. We always supported him even when we knew that he was not right. Our connivance corrupts any authorities. Let us agree once and forever to learn to be free citizens of a free democratic country. Only by becoming possessors, by not fearing anybody but God and by not violating laws can we in fact build a normal international state which will protect human rights. The authorities should feel that they should not give orders to us. They should serve people. They should be answerable to people. They should be under society's control. [Passage omitted: Umetaliyeva addresses Bakiyev asking him to have an open TV debate with her]
[Umetaliyeva] Dear compatriots - men and women, I think women account for the poorest part of our population. There cannot be either equality or democracy or development in a country where women have to bear the enormous burden of poverty. I urge you to cast your votes on 10 July for those who are fighting for the interests of the family in order to take our women out of poverty. Strong families make a strong country. Let's fight for the interests of a mother. I think that people will make their choice. Before casting your votes think to whom you would give your child, since values of the family and children should be foremost in the state's ideas.
[Passage omitted: Umetaliyeva calls on people to turn out in the election day] [Umetaliyeva] Please turn out for the elections to ensure fair elections and so that we all wake up in peace on 11 [July]. There will not be fair elections if you do not turn out. This means there will be no peace and independence in Kyrgyzstan and the country will not be able to develop. I will wait for all of you in the big elections on 10 July. [Passage omitted: ad; good wishes to the presidential candidates]
Source: Kyrgyz Television first channel, Bishkek, in Kyrgyz, Russian 1430 gmt 4 Jul 05
BBC Mon CAU 050705 abm/sa/ta/mk/atd
Monday, July 04, 2005
Sunday, July 03, 2005
Friday, July 01, 2005
US involvement in the revolution.. a rant by Chris
If, as Akayev claims, he was a stalwart preventing the spread of Islamic extremism the US would not remove him. I mean just read about Mobutu in Zaire and you will realize the US will hemorrhage itself of billions and billions of dollars to put and keep dictators in power who act as "stabilizing forces."
I think what happened is that the Embassy was encouraging the opposition groups and trying to prevent Russian influence because it actually WANTED DEMOCRACY to happen in Kyrgyzstan WITHOUT INFLUCEN FROM OUTSIDE! The US only has MANAS, a glorified tent-camp, there is no natural resource or any other stratigic motivator in Kyrtgyzstan! I mean look at the organizations Akayev fingered, NDI and Freedom House.. HAS HE ANY IDEA WHAT THESE GROUPS DO??? The whole purpose of these groups is to bring democracy through transparent change in policy and they have done it in places much much much much worse than Kyrgyzstan... Akayev was not VERY democratic he was kind of like a peaceful dictator, I mean he was the same leader they had before Independence from Russia!! It was time for a change and the US probably wanted to help encourage that. Now this could be misinterpreted by a paranoid person to mean that the US staged the coup. But think about this, why would the US just stage half a coup? The point of an externally motivated coup is to put a specific person in power.!!!!! not just to wreck havoc and certainly not to wreck havoc in areas where extremism could take hold.
Maybe the fact that the US diplomats actually have good-will intentions for the countries they serve in is such a foriegn idea for some people that they have to create these absurd conspiracy theories. Maybe the complete lack of an obvious malevolent goal of the US in enouraging the oppostion group is enough to make it seem more probable. But usually with diplomacy it is alot more boring than you think, this was just encouragement to help Krygzstan prosper. The US must want central asia to develope so that extremism perishes (I mean look at Bahrain, they are muslim but very far from Taliban, development really helps people think better.)
I mean even if you maintain a maligned view of the US it still makes no sense, like think about robbers who go around just breaking into places without thinking about how much money might be there or how to collect the money when the get in or how to make an escape... I mean you have to plan twice as hard if you are going to be a successful malevolent force, you don't just "encourage revolutions" willy nilly. However, if you are simply interested in people taking decisions into their own hands and becoming a true democracy I think what happened in the revolution is EXACTLY what you would want. The Kyrgyz people should be kind of proud how they stood up against corruption, that takes some bravery, especially when there was no effective rule of law. If this same thing happened in Africa it would have been a bloodshed followed by a famine.
Speaking of, I am really surprised that Hizb ut-tahrir did not try and stage anything over the last few months, I mean they had a good chance during the revolution and another after th Uzbek massacre (which they were "implicated" in by the questionable Uzbek authorities). I am really interested in this group and I am kind of surprised that such a well organized effort has been stymied by some threats of imprisonment. Maybe the kyrgyz prison system is worse than I imagined.
Ok well here is a supposed letter from the US amb in kg.. I have no idea if it is real or not, but it has been floating around the web, I think it came from the Kyrgyz News Agency.
and here is something off of an untra-libral blog ...
Secret report of the U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyz Republic Stephen M.Young
Bishkek, Kirghiz Republic
December 30, 2004
Pre-election situation report
Analysis of the social and political situation in Kyrgyzstan testifies the growing instability on the threshold of parliamentary elections in the country.
Against the background of economic crisis, accompanied with national impoverishment, corruption in state bodies and outflow of labor force abroad, some other external factors have a strong impact upon the political forces arrangement, i.e. influence (besides our geopolitical interests) of Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and to a lesser extent of the EU countries and radical Islamic ideas proliferated from Iran.
The results of public opinion polls in Kyrgyzstan, conducted by the US Embassy in cooperation with USAID, NDI, IRI, other international organizations including Freedom House, Internews Network, Soros Foundations and the Eurasia Foundation in view of the above-mentioned countries influence on the politically active population, allow us to draw a conclusion that at present none of the states has prevailing influence.
The only exception is Russia, which counts considerably in Kyrgyzstan, as it has retained multiform connections with the republic. Akaev, being a protegee of Russia, is guided by Moscow. However, we have not got the facts of Russian financing any candidates or parties.
As regards China, the prospect of Central Asia development puts Beijing into dependence on the Kyrghyz hydro-electric resources and electric power potential.
Thus Kyrgyzstan foreign policy is aimed at trade and economic expansion that coincides with Chinese further plans, in particular those concerning electric power and water distribution.
This reason should be taken into consideration when shaping a policy towards Beijing and its presence in the region.
Our military presence in Kyrgyzstan “is annoying” Beijing, and the temporary status of the air force base at Manas airport in Bishkek gives grounds to China to hope for would- be withdrawal of the US troops from Kyrgyzstan.
In this regard, we are sure to expect counteracting steps of the Chinese government against our military expansion in the region. At present China renders informal support to the politicians disposed to further development of relations with Beijing and restriction of our military contingent in Kyrgyzstan.
In addition, Akaev’s assistance in the struggle against Uigur separatism and religious extremism is obviously insufficient.
In view of the acts of terrorism committed against the US offices last summer in Uzbekistan and the Department of State and our secret services information on further plans of terrorists against the US Embassy in Kyrgyzstan, we are facing the real menace constituted by political actrocities of the religious extremist party Hizbut Tahrir and its radical Islamic ideas, which exert negative influence upon the formation of pre-election situation in the state.
According to the firsthand information, the radicalism has been actively promoted by Iran, Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia. The activities of Islamists are set to construct mosques, establish religious educational institutions, arrange pilgrimage, and organize training of Kyrgyz religious leaders in Muslim countries.
At present there are about 30 Muslim organizations and societies operating in Kyrgyzstan. Among them the greatest activity is shown by the office of the international charitable organization Al- Vakf al Isiami. Its leader Muntasir Abu Hasan has friendly relations with Akaev and Sabirov, Kyrgyz MPs, clerical leaders . A.Narmatov, M.Magomedov, O.Chotonov.
We have elicited facts about contacts of the party leadership with representatives of the Chechen Diaspora. According to our analysts, Sabirov and Tursunbay Bakir uulu, leader of Erkin Kyrgyzstan, will take advantage of Muslim organizations support at the forthcoming elections.
They are keeping in touch with hard liners from HizbutTtahrir to legitimate the party in Kyrgyzstan. On trips to southern areas of Kyrgyzstan some of the embassy staff have found out information on dissemination of leaflets issued by Hizbut Tahrir, which propagandize religious extremism and sharia laws.
Taking into account the interests, of our presence in the region and development of democratic society in Kyrgyzstan, our primary goal — according to the earlier approved plans — is to increase pressure upon Akaev to make him resign ahead of schedule after the parliamentary elections.
Realizing the plan is of key importance as, we think, the present opposition is not strong enough to challenge the present authorities, though Akaev has claimed he is not going to prolong his terms of office.
We know, Akaev’s adherents suspect the opposition to prepare the same scenario of elections like that one in Georgia and Ukraine. That was indirectly asserted by Akaev at December meeting of the Council of Defense of the KR.
In case of prolongation of presidential powers Akaev is mast likely to take advantage of the assistance rendered by the Russian-speaking part of the population and other ethnic minorities, as well as of several thousand residents who are on earnings in Russia now.
In this connection, for better planning of pre-election tactics we ought to remember that Russia remains the basic employer in Kyrgyzstan. Both the pro-Russian public opinion and popularity of the Russian president are rather strong in some northern regions of the country.
According to the materials we sent to the Department of State earlier, at present two formations are shaped on the political arena of Kyrgyzstan. They will struggle for posts in the parliament and then nominate candidates for the presidency.
First of all, it is the pre-election block For Powers of People. In July 2004 it united six opposition parties, which nominated K.Bakiev, ex-prime minister and MP, as their single candidate for the presidential post.
I think he is the most acceptable candidate in the aspect of fruitful development of relations between the USA and Kyrgyzstan. I met Bakiev on repeated occasions. Bakiev expressed his consent to take advantage of the support after his block’s winning in parliamentary elections.
As he said, after ambiguous American involvement in elections in Georgia and Ukraine unconcealed American support provided to a candidate might have a negative effect on his political reputation. Furthermore, he was against falling off in relations with Russia by criticizing on behalf of his party Russian intervening in the Ukrainian elections.
Among the other significant political leaders we name M.Ashirkulov, the former secretary of Security Council, and F.Kulov, who is currently imprisoned. They represent a newly founded party— the Civic Union For Fair Elections.
We believe Ashirkulov’s growing popularity has been arisen from recent Scandals and his demonstrative walkout from the president’s team. In our opinion, it was a specially made up action to promote the president’s friend to head up a “puppet” opposition.
In this connection, we advise continuing contacts with another prominent representative of the opposition — F.Kulov, whose imprisonment will end in the middle of 2005. Enjoying deserved popularity and being a victim of regime, he will have sufficient potential to struggle for the presidency.
F.Kulov shares and adheres to American concepts of freedom and democracy and can be viewed as a dubbing candidate for the presidency in case our main candidate Bakiev is defeated.
We have mostly succeeded in developing contacts with another leader of the opposition — R.Otunbaeva, ex-Minister for Foreign Affairs.
Through the funds allocated to her we managed to lobby setting up and promoting certain NGOs as well as organizing a unified system of mass media for better coverage over the country to spread her statement about non-interference of Russia in internal affairs of Kyrgyzstan.
With a view to providing favorable conditions and helping democratic opposition leaders come to power, our primary goal for the pre-elections period is to arouse mistrust to the authorities in force and Akaev’s incapacitated corruption regime, his pro-Russian orientation and illegal use of “an administrative resource” to rig elections.
In this regard, the embassy’s Democratic commission, Soros Foundations, Eurasia Foundation in Bishkek in cooperation with USAID have been organizing politically active groups of voters in order to inspire riots against pro-president candidates.
We have set up and opened financing for an independent printing office — the Media Support center — and AKIpress news agency to interpret impartially the course of the elections and minimize state mass media propaganda impact. We also render financial support to promising non-governmental tele- and radio companies.
According to public polls results, we can come to conclusion that only a minor part of the population— former USSR citizens — is satisfied with close cooperation with Russia. Young people are most likely oriented to the West.
Therefore we consider it extremely important to popularize American way of life among them to diminish Russian influence.
At least 45 national higher schools have their local Students in Action organizations, which we are planning to use properly during parliamentary and presidential elections.
In our opinion, those additional funds ($5m) transferred by the Department of State to hold seminars in all leading Universities of Kyrgyzstan and organize training in western countries turned out insufficient.
In the view of the pre-election situation and effort to provide fair and democratic elections in the KR and retain our positions in mass media and contacts with the opposition leaders, I advise focusing on discrediting the present political regime, thus making Akaev and his followers responsible for the economic crisis. We should also take steps to spread information on probable restriction of political freedoms during the election campaign.
It is worthwhile compromising Akaev personally by disseminating data in the opposition mass media on his wife’s involvement in financial frauds and bribery at designation of officials.
We also recommend spreading rumors about her probable plans to run for the presidency, etc. All these measures will help us form an image of an absolutely incapacitated president.
It is essential to increase the amount of financial support up to $30m to promising opposition parties at the preliminary stage of the parliamentary and presidential elections and allocate additional funds to NGOs.
Including the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, Freedom house, Internews Network and Eurasia Foundation, since they have reached significant results within the framework of informing the population on preparation for the election and on the process of political forces consolidation.
To minimize Russian influence on the course of elections we ought to urge opposition parties to make appeals to the Russian government concerning non-interference in internal affairs of the KR.
Taking into account arrangements of the Department of State Plan for the period of 2005-2006 to intensify our influence in Central Asia, particularly in Kyrgyzstan, we view the country as the base to advance with the process of democratization in Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and limit Chinese and Russian capabilities in the area Setting up democratic legitimate opposition in the parliament of Kyrgyzstan is extremely important.
To reach the target we should attract groups of independent observers from western humanitarian organizations, OSCE, and people from Kyrgyz offices of the UN Program of Development.
That is necessary: to get control of the election process and eliminate any possible financing of the pro-presidential majority in the parliament.
The U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyz Republic
posted Monday, 28 March 2005