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Consolidation Day for Democracy in Kyrgyz Society
Interview with Roza Otunbaeva, opposition member and former head of the Foreign Affairs Ministry
Ryskeldi Satkeev (ryskeldi64)     Print Article 
Published 2009-04-04 11:46 (KST)   
This interview is only lightly edited.  <Editor's Note>

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Ryskeldi Satke: Roza Otunbaeva, what is your assessment of the current political situation in Kyrgyzstan?

Roza Otunbaeva
©2009 jetigen.org
Roza Otunbaeva: The political situation in Kyrgyz Republic remains tense and unpredictable. The election date is declared but no candidates known yet. Everybody is waitng for the announcement on candidate from the opposition union. Those steps and actions authorities have taken relating to the mechanisms and instruments of the election process over the past six months including this 100 percent made up member nominations of the Central Election Commission submitted by the government and supported by the "Ak zhol" party in the Zhogorku Kenesh suggest that there will not be honest, fair and open elections. The government is feeling nation's disapproval spread all over the country and unwillingness to continue such life which is why the authorities armed themselves to the teeth showing the intention of using force by any mean. It has already held a demonstrative shares deterrence in the Nookat region last year as for the ruling elite Sadyrkulov's assassination was a clear warning sign and still there is no clue on kidnapped deputies whereabouts from the Zhogorku Kenesh.

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Do you want to talk about the continuing attacks and beatings of journalists?

The Bakiev administration is relentlessly trying to take complete control over the independent press along with broadcasting stations which were under control already for a few years now. On the verge of closing the last two opposition newspapers "Lizza" and "The Reporter." Despite the difficult winter our nation has lived through the season but even our seniors have not known such hardships since World War II when our children this year couldn't go to schools because of the blackout we are experiencing on a daily basis.

Yes, God saved us from more hardships by giving a mild winter but given that vast majority of Kyrgyz population wasn't able to switch quickly from the electric to the alternative ways of heating especially in rural areas. President Bakiev is using the Kyrgyz nation's mentality of powerlessness, endless patience and exclusion from the state government to be in power more longer and it is unclear how long this regime will extend this misery for the nation along with disastrous government fraud and widespread corruption which became a deadly cancer for Kyrgyzstan.

The Bakiev government, according to the financial reports of the US State Department and Pentagon for the fiscal year 2007, has obtained 193 units of high class electronic systems for use in surveillance along with night sighting equipment in the amount of USD$20 million which has been denied repeatedly by the current Prime Minister Chudinov. The US State and Defense Department's Fiscal Year 2007 "Section 655" Report clearly confirms Kyrgyzstan's purchase. It is obvious that Bakiev's administration pushed the transaction through which would serve president's interests in strengthening control over the opposition. What is your opinion on the purchase and do you approve US government's actions in this term?

I am far from idealizing any even prosperous and democratic states.

Aren't they members of the UN Security Council? Five countries are the largest arms traders on this planet.

Were American people protesting against the Bush administration on the war in Iraq where thousands of their troops and tens of thousands Iraqis have died?

Unfortunately, many developed countries are deaf and silent when it comes to the world arms trade including dozens of scandalous cases of arms sales by western business groups to the countries with UN sanctions on. These double standards on the principle of "money does not have the smell" let the weak "failed states" suffer.

These same political cynics are helping to destroy developing countries. In fact I do remember our government's bickering with the press over the military equipment purchase from the US. The transaction was not clear then and gradually the issue disappeared.

The current government has brought our country to the knees, we are in a group of the world's poorest countries with a highest maternal and child mortality rate along with a raging number of tuberculosis cases in the region and in the first "quartet" of the most corrupt countries in the world. There is a concise indicators on school education as the most recent of the five dozen countries on knowledge of basic disciplines.

This is bright certificate of the minimal investment in our people with the fact of social impoverishment. But the authorities have nothing to lose. They just need to be longer in power so they could stream the budget money to purchase weapons and military surveillance equipment to go after the opposition. I was naive to raise the question on turning all funds to the most needed in the society after March 24 "Tulip Revolution" in 2005 with plans on unnecessary funding restrictions for the authorities. For example, in Canada, Great Britain and Scandinavian states the Prime Ministers are moving within the country on the regular passenger lines not the charter ones.

What is the response by Bakiev?

He purchased two brand new foreign production airliners. One used only for external missions and the other one for flights within the country! There you go! He is flying annually to the expensive clinics around the world with monthly treatments while most acute and complex heart surgeries in the USA for instance require only three days for patient.

The president's protection service or State Security Service sharply increased its budget last year. "Ak zhol" party submitted government's decision without any remorse justifying the service parameters of the SCO leaders (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) and CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization).

However, these alliances collected more developed economies such as China, in the projection of one of the top five economies with enormous gold stock foreign exchange reserves and Russia which is also a BRIC member with 14th place in world economy statistics with average income around $6,000 - $7,000 dollars per capita GDP.

It is an undeniable fact now that Medet Sadyrkulov and his colleagues death was a result of the brutal massacre and the version of an accident is still in use by the Internal Affairs Minister Kongantiev with the rest of the Bakiev government. Some inside the government feared Sadyrkulov which is why the authorities have used surveillance while he was actively engaging with opposition union leaders including the fateful day before his trip to Almaty. Who is behind the Sadyrkulov's murder in your opinion?

Sadyrkulov would be very dangerous with opposition to the authorities and everyone understood that. He knew all the details surrounding Bakiev's administration. Sadyrkulov pretty much owned house secrets with forces around Bakiev and his family from one side and officials from the other. He was perfectly aware on the ratio of external partners in the leadership of the country.

By having incredible flexibility Sadyrkulov dealt with any political groups finding keys to the problems. Former president Akayev's escape has shown officials who had a career with Akaev but they have changed the lines crossing over to the other side with new coming power. Only four of them left from the AAA (Ascar Akaevich Akaev) "brotherhood fidelity" as counted by one of the former senior officials. The same sad fate fell on Sadyrkulov also.

Now when the investigation of his death in place, rarely anyone asks the question from the 17 deputies of the "Ak zhol" party which was invented and led by Sadyrkulov not to mention the other dozen of politicians who were picked and polished by him as well. So those picked ones which is totally regarded to the "Ak-Zhol" party all skin feel and they know where the threat is coming from otherwise why wouldn't they actively raise the issue of the phony investigation. So they are being careful even those who were installed to the parliament's highest positions as chairmen and successfully avoided parliamentary hearings on Sadyrkulov's death.

Who said and proved that Sadyrkulov's death is a murder by the authorities?

Why all the generals in power are hiding?

The increase in expenditure budget on law enforcement agencies and their apparent increasing role in Bakiev's power is a well known fact. How do you rate the opposition chances in upcoming presidential elections?

The opposition chances in upcoming elections will be encouraging if a single candidate would be nominated which would be a good start for UOM (United Opposition Movement) to work with the candidate. Sure, we'll be joined by many other parties feeling the taste of political struggle. All the elite of Kyrgyz society , in my view, will vote for the opposition candidate. We have seen perfectly a cultural profile of the authorities.

Need an example? Neither the president nor his secretary, with all his administration, cannot resolve the issue of the great Kyrgyz writer Chingis Aitmatov's commemoration. In 3 months it will be exactly one year since Aitmatov passed away but there is no action from this government. It needs an international contest of his phenomenon at the world level. In the capital, they have not yet found a decent area or the streets which would be named after C. Aitmatov.

People have become more aware of this government's attitude after the so-called elections whether in the village or town. It became clear that they can't play a regional card anymore with Kyrgyz population.Even if five of the ministers in the present government are from the Suzak region which is considered as generic preserve for the Bakiev's family, there are many unhappy members of the society with his relatives rule. I need to explicitly say that the disappointment in this government is too high!

The Kyrgyz electorate will select the hope candidate without coercion because the current power has shown its habits, nature and bad influence. Leaders are getting judged by their actions not by the empty promises. The institution of the election process has been totally destroyed and dismantled which is an issue. Bakiev's main play card is "how to count the votes" method. The majority of Kyrgyz do not vote for him but the government counts its own way which is ultimately a fraud.

Is the name of the opposition union candidate for the upcoming presidential elections known?

There are intense consultations within the Opposition Union. Candidate will be agreed and launched on behalf of all opposition so most likely the name will be announced by the end of this week.

-Bakiev's election campaign has spread the news on Kyrgyz polls and surveys coming out positive for his candidacy. Some part of the population has doubted on whether there will be a new president after recent Constitutional Court's decision backed by Ak-Zhol majority in the Kyrgyz parliament. How do you see Bakiev's chances in upcoming elections?

That adds to the previous question. There is an elite in every society. I hardly doubt that our significantly decreased but courageously stayed through the misery of these years intellectuals would vote for Bakiev. Yes, they are dependent, many of them work for the government so they politely will not be able to resist to the brutal pressure but in the soul and heart they will be with us. All journalists are associating with us, all the civilian sector is strongly supportive of the opposition, almost all students despite the incredible pressure here or abroad go for the opposition candidate. Bakiev will throw pre-election tips to the pensioners, doctors and teachers with awarding chiefs, directors, local leaders. The familiar scenario which has been in use for over the past 10 years.

Farmers will be given fertilizers and gasoline. The Bakiev's administration will be on the short leash as well. The districts will be granted with personal vehicles and state budget money will be flowing over the top in the curbing of the electorate. By then the Russian credit will be available which without doubt is going to be used in the election campaign. Fair elections in Kyrgyzstan never would have a chance for Bakiev's second term.

One example, the Kambar-Ata II hydroelectric power station project is announced as a popular move by the president. The idea is rolling hundred times a day on all TV channels in order to have an image of the Bakiev- The Great Builder. But it is clear that neither in 2009 or the following or even the following after that the situation with energy industry in Kyrgyzstan will not be improved. With Kambar-Ata II little at all will change.

Why then the investment is not directed to Bishkek Power Station a real serious power plant heating more than a million inhabitants in the city?

Why this particular Power Plant continues to devaluate?

What is the plan for 2009 - 2010 winter season which most likely will be colder than 2008?

Has chosen strategy of privatization of energy facilities on the eve of the economic and financial crisis in the world correctly planned?

With such huge interim improvement energy gaps in the country (construction of two Kambar-Ata HES, Bishkek Power Plant work and wear) could we find ourselves in the next 4 or 5 years in the chronic energy crisis with incalculable social, economic and humanitarian consequences?

The West is bewildered to the decision of the government and parliament on withdrawal of the NATO coalition forces air base Manas from the Kyrgyzstan. Your opinion on the decision and the Kremlin's role in such move by Bakiev?

There could be many opinions on this. The matter has a complex nature. The time of financial and economic crisis with administration change in the USA has brought huge opportunities not only for major economic projects in the business world but also for the implementation of significant political schemes. We are witnessing the economic growth and recovery of Russia which gave impetus to the restoration of its role in the post-Soviet region.

It is obvious that Kyrgyzstan hasn't progressed moreover we are in the group of the poorest countries and Russia is going the opposite way. It is clear that Kyrgyzstan depends on Russian economy. Our country has some sort of independent foreign policy but "priori" difficult. From geography to the same imperative tone our link with Russia traditionally deep and interconnected which is our history with strong relationship in our joint life on the Eurasian continent. We face the same threats and challenges. This whole suitcase of arguments, in my opinion, has led the president of Kyrgyzstan to decide on the withdrawal of the American base Manas fully supported by the Russian leadership. The position of the political leadership of Russia all recent years has been polished by the military hardliners and their intelligence services, those forces who grew under the Cold War era.

Now time has come when Russia wants once again to be in the role of world player on the table and actually it's not the same Kremlin anymore because it has less power on a regional basis. There are two objectives the Russian Federation is going to obtain in the international arena:

1) Euroasian Economical Cooperation Union

2) CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization)

In my view, here is what Russians want to establish:

The Manas airbase withdrawal decision came under the clean break of the old treaties which was quickly done on that basis. The base Manas may well be used again and it is in the national interests of Kyrgyzstan and Russia but on the basis of arrangements between the United States and CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization).

Kyrgyzstan will serve only as a member of the military - political organization.

The negotiations would be only held with CSTO through Russia. The stroke Kyrgyz "Jack device" significantly promotes this organization which the West does not wish to recognize as a regional security guarantor and NATO is not willing to cooperate with it. So here we are and if you need a base speak with CSTO so take it in to count. In the face of unfolding large scale operations in Afghanistan where our Central Asian region by definition will play a key role the CSTO is arming itself with Russia fully prepared on the intersection of the major world powers in one of the hot spots on Earth. The following five years the theater of military - political action clearly will expand to us. Very close.

Do you think Kyrgyzstan will become a police state under Bakiev if he will be able to retain power?

I share the accurate view of the Kyrgyz political analyst Mars Sariev on civilized split which the current power has made in our lives. Our democracy surprised the world and Bakiev wants to have it disappeared with transforming our socio-political life in to the desert. All must comply with the ruler. This is not and was not in the blood of our ancestors.

My grandfather resisted to the Stalin's regime. He disobeyed and escaped from prison. My relatives have been pressured on all sides, not remained in captivity and oppressed so they deposited horses with departing through Chatkal Mountains to the Aksy region. Kyrgyz nation has never been silenced.

In Naryn, Talas, At Bashy and Kara - Cole, Sarah Ozone, Alay, Aksy and Kara Culja regions people say the truth in person.

Kyrgyz had always been firm for freedom and truth. Some officials are trying to ignore the nation's history and deliberately using torture which became a practice over the past a few years. So they are abusing their power in order to get close to the Bakiev's surrounding. But these people should not forget the Kyrgyz anger that they had seen firsthand in Osh, Talas, Djalal Abad, Kochkor and Bishkek in spring 2005.You just can't go up against the whole nation. Police State will not survive with the current or the next president. Our country has a parliamentary democracy with guaranties of all constitutional rights and freedoms. Too many people know now the taste of freedom, understand their rights, prepared to stand up for them and for themselves and their children. Our idea has attached to the forwarding of the consolidation day for democracy in our society.

How do you find the March 27 opposition protests outcome?

The requirements submitted by the Opposition Union to the authorities, supported and endorsed at all rallies throughout the country on March 27 called by the government as unacceptable moreover they described our rights as conflicting with the Constitution. So we have many questions to the Bakiev's administration as well.

Is the Constituional Court decision legal on the definition of the election date by the law?

Where is the requirement reformatting all set up for the Central Election Commission?

Bakiev himself lost deputy elections in 2005 when exactly the same centralized electoral system served as a reason for revolution four years ago.

How to define the actions of authorities?

Nevertheless, we had more than 16,000 participants. These were the petrel upcoming people. We felt that people will be able to stand up for their rights, coalesce around one of the opposition candidate. Rallies on March 27 gave hope and basis for strong action to United Opposition.


©2009 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Ryskeldi Satkeev

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