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Tashkent bans “lavish” weddings
Written by , Monday, 11 Jun, 2012 – 16:12 | One Comment

It is no surprise that in countries where demos do not have much say governments can and do “insistingly recommend” living lives in a certain way. The Tashkent mayor Rakhmonbek Usmonov thought so too and issued a decree regulating wedding ceremonies, RFE/RL’s Uzbek service reported. According to the decree, the wedding parties are to be concluded by 10PM. The reasons behind limiting the time are quite noble: noise pollution, regulating working hours in restaurants hosting wedding ceremonies, etc. Read the full story »

Dec 19-23: New gov’t, blackouts and human rights
Written by , Monday, 26 Dec, 2011 – 1:38 | No Comment

With the presidential elections “fever” over and the president inaugurated, it is now time in Kyrgyzstan to appoint a new government.  The incumbent president, Almazbek Atambayev, ascended to presidency from the post of the prime minister of Kyrgyzstan and triggered the government reshuffling.

On Monday, 19 December 2011, then candidate Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov initiated decreasing the number of ministries. He argued doing so would save some 1bn soms (about 22m USD), and decrease the salary burden on budget by firing over 3,000 state employees. A wise move indeed; however, there is room for further “shrinking”. For instance, the ministry of education and sciences can assume the “youth” component of the ministry for youth, labor and employment. Whereas the ministry for social security could intake the “labor and employment.” Further, the ministry of economy and antimonopoly policies can safely deal with “finances” of the ministry for finances. After all, they are of the same “nature.” Read the full story »

Nov 28-Dec 2: New political page
Written by , Tuesday, 6 Dec, 2011 – 2:33 | No Comment

Bishkek Mayor Isa Omurkulov’s claimed he is going to ask the court to reconsider the acquittal of his son, on Monday, 28 November 2011. Mayor Omurkulov issued a statement indicating his son, who killed three young individuals driving under alcoholic influence, is a 30-year-old father of four but that “doesn’t free him from responsibility.” While this is a nice statement, one is left with the impression that this was nothing more than just a wise political move ahead of the reshuffling in higher echelons after Almazbek Atambayev is sworn in. Also because his son is already acquitted by court and a request forwarded by an individual not involved in the trial (even if he is the defendant’s father and is a capital city mayor) is not going to be entertained. Read the full story »

Israel vs. Iran: to bomb or not to bomb?
Written by , Tuesday, 8 Nov, 2011 – 3:28 | 2 Comments

Despite its small size and under 8-million population, Israel is challenging a country with 10 times bigger population and 70 times larger surface – Iran. Israel claims Iran is developing a nuclear weapon which Tehran will deploy against the Jewish state. Not surprisingly, (thank you, AIPAC) Israel’s claim is in perfect unison with that emanating in Washington D.C. – Iran is developing a nuclear arsenal. Read the full story »

Kyrgyz Sec Council bid unsuccessful; might spell future luck
Written by , Wednesday, 26 Oct, 2011 – 19:45 | Comments Off

Last week’s voting at the UN Security Council could not have possibly voted for Kyrgyzstan as a non-permanent member for several reasons. For one, the closeness of the political elite of Kyrgyzstan with the Russian leadership. Another reason: rather gruesome human rights records and unstable situation at home. Apparently, what Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva counted on was the fact that Kyrgyzstan was the first country in the Central Asian region to announce and implement the parliamentary form of governance. While there can be many speculations as to how exactly this form is successful, it is still a fact. Another “trump card” the Kyrgyz diplomats might have had up the sleeve was the Russian and the international anti-terror coalition’s (de facto, American) airbases located in Kyrgyzstan. However, even that didn’t work.
Well, why did Pakistan win the vote with the overwhelming majority during the first round? According to Otunbayeva, because “Pakistan is a nuclear state” with some 190m residents and has over 100 embassies around the globe as opposed to some 30 Kyrgyz embassies. Otunbayeva also says Pakistan reached out to Kyrgyzstan directly via diplomatic means asking to withdraw its candidacy.
There has also been an attempt to urge anyone involved in the affairs to block the Kyrgyz candidacy. Neweurasia wrote that the Belgium-based Alisher Navoi Institute counts several “crimes and atrocities” taking place in Kyrgyzstan and sometimes authorities either silently let it happen or are directly involved in them. While this particular call was probably not heard at the decision-making levels at the UN, it nonetheless only echoed the alarms rung the international community, NGOs and individuals in Kyrgyzstan. As recently as September 2011, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the Kyrgyz authorities to meet recommendations in the report filed by the Kyrgyz Inquiry Commission. The Kyrgyz parliament announced the head of the committee, a well-known Finnish politician, is a persona non-grata and banned him from entering Kyrgyzstan for “not objective” coverage of the June 2010 events.
Kyrgyzstan has no oil or any other valuable assets that could lure other powers that be into befriending them. To top it all, Kyrgyzstan owes the world over 2bn dollars that it not only does not possess, but also appears not to be planning to return.
On the other hand, it was a good move for the Kyrgyz diplomacy. Otunbayeva, herself an ex-ambassador, realizes the importance for the tiny nation that this claim can bring. Kyrgyz authorities made an attempt to blur the negative images the international community pictured for itself following two revolutions, the 2010 violence, and an extremely negative report released by an international commission. Therefore, credit must be given to the Kyrgyz diplomats who attempted to challenge a much more powerful nation in this competition. Although Kyrgyzstan’s failure was apparent, competing until the very end was a courageous act, which can now recommend this country for other positions within the UN system.
Therefore, in Kyrgyzstan’s case particularly, while the outcome might be suggesting a failure, I am prone toward thinking making a “loud” statement by a small nation was far more important than actually winning the membership. And as I was putting ideas on paper, the news came that Azerbaijan was voted into the non-permanent membership of the UN SC.

September 26-30: elections, gas, int’l ties
Written by , Monday, 3 Oct, 2011 – 17:27 | No Comment

This week started with the single most important political event of the year – the launching of the presidential election campaigns. These elections will most probably be the top-rated event not only in Kyrgyzstan, but also in the whole Central Asian region, since it is going to be the very first time that a head of state voluntarily and conscientiously leaves post. Read the full story »

Kyrgyz-language instruction in Uzbek schools: necessity or haste?
Written by , Tuesday, 20 Sep, 2011 – 19:00 | No Comment

It was quite a surprise to hear that some Uzbek-language schools introduced instruction in the Kyrgyz language. While switching to Kyrgyz shouldn’t be a big issue for children given the linguistic kinship between the two languages, it is unclear as to how schools are going to provide with teachers, books and other necessary supplies in the Kyrgyz language. The argument that teachers who were teaching their pupils in the Uzbek language can switch to Kyrgyz won’t fly. Because children will simply respond in the Uzbek language and will most probably think their teachers are traitors of the Uzbek minority and their parents will take children out of such schools. Read the full story »

Kyrgyz-Chinese spy cooperation will harm, not help
Written by , Wednesday, 14 Sep, 2011 – 17:40 | 3 Comments

The Kyrgyz authorities seem to be signaling the world, first and foremost the Kremlin, that they are not being treated as they would like. To show the (superior) partners they can take steps of their own – although towards the arms of another superpower, not independent decisions – a Kyrgyz KGB delegation paid a visit to China. Headed by the chief spy, the delegation met colleagues on the other side of the border. The visit ended with the ratification of routine agreements – jointly combatting terrorism, separatism, drug trafficking, etc. etc. On top of cooperation, the Chinese side will throw in over 1m dollars-worth equipment for the Kyrgyz KGB. Obviously, such generosity comes with several strings attached to it. Read the full story »

New symbols resolve problems – a Kyrgyz know-how
Written by , Wednesday, 7 Sep, 2011 – 5:34 | One Comment

Kyrgyzstan celebrated its birthday last week. For some countries the first 20 years of independence might be very difficult during which the country goes through many hardships – writing a constitution, introducing currency, building state institutions, establishing relations with neighbors and, finally, bring about conditions for state-society relations and harmony in society. But not for Kyrgyzstan, where one finds to no serious problems to tackle! This young, vibrant, free and enthusiastic country is free from any problems. Because its leaders know the way that others do not – imploring pagan gods and forces to improve their lives, and then just relax because “things will now certainly get better!”

Read the full story »

August 8-12: elections, borders and freedom of speech
Written by , Sunday, 14 Aug, 2011 – 22:04 | No Comment

Southern Kyrgyzstan has plunged into the abyss of economic fiasco following the collapse of the Soviet Union 20 years ago; the disturbances in 2010 have pushed the “bottom” a little deeper. Over 100 companies in Southern Kyrgyzstan were reported as being suspended due to lack of resources, funds, investments and, last but certainly not least, lack of workforce. The violence last year and the ongoing unfair trials (accompanied by tortures, extortions) have forced thousands of local residents to leave their homes, and investors either removed their assets or never came. With such a backdrop, it is rather amusing that the tax department in Southern Kyrgyzstan reported on Monday, 8 August 2011, about collecting 104% of the planned taxes for the first half of 2011. Read the full story »