Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Kyrgyz Election Update

In the third update on the campaign for the February 27 parliamentary election in Kyrgyzstan, IWPR looks at key events of the week (RCA No. 344, 28-Jan-05)
By IWPR

Presidential press secretary Abdil Segizbaev warned journalists on January 26 that any attempt to start a “velvet revolution” in Kyrgyzstan might grow into a civil war. Moves to replicate the kind of public protests that resulted in the recent election re-run in Ukraine, he said, would produce instead a situation like the one Tajikistan found itself in 1992, when constitutional crisis led to civil conflict.


According to Segizbaev, many “political agitators” have entered the republic recently, intent on fomenting popular uprisings. The first stage of their plan, he claims, would be to have newspapers smear the authorities. Then opposition candidates who lose the upcoming elections would organise demonstrations. As well as carrying a danger of civil conflict, Segizbaev warned that such an uprising would have dire economic consequences.


GOVERNMENT DENIES “WHITE LIST”


On January 25, the Kyrgyz government released a statement denying the existence of a special list of parliamentary candidates supported by the authorities. This was in response to the newspaper Agym’s publication of a secret “white list” of candidates in each constituency who will receive special preferential treatment from the authorities during the elections. The list was allegedly disclosed by sources in the government. The official press service asked the newspaper to publish a disclaimer and apologise for its “libel”.


CONTROVERSY OVER DIPLOMATS’ RIGHTS RUMBLES ON


On January 26, Kurmanbek Osmonov, chair of Kyrgyzstan’s supreme court, described an amendment to the election code as “anti-constitutional”. The change in the law, allowing former diplomatic workers to take part in the parliamentary elections, was passed with 31 votes in parliament on January 20. It has now been passed to the president for approval.


In addition, several deputies stated this week that voting on the bill was conducted in their absence yet their votes had been counted in support of it.


SOROS ACCUSED OF “PREPARING FOR REVOLUTION”


On January 27, Kyrgyz Tuusu - the official government newspaper - published an article criticising United States philanthropist George Soros for financing projects that allegedly instructed secondary school students in how to create a coup d’etat. The article alleged that Soros has been “preparing young generations for revolutions” for the past decade.


OPPOSITION LEADERS FINED FOR PROTEST


On January 25, Bishkek’s Pervomaysky district court began its consideration of several cases against opposition leaders charged with organising the January 19 mass demonstration and the protest march. The charges against Ishengul Boljurova, deputy head of People’s Movement of Kyrgyzstan; Roza Otunbaeva, co-chair of the Atajurt (Fatherland) movement, and Topchubek Turgunaliev, leader of the Erkindik (Liberty) party, are based on civil rather than criminal law, and accuse them variously of violating traffic rules, disobeying police officers, and endangering lives by conducting unlawful meetings and marches. The following day, Boljurova, the first of the defendants, was found guilty and fined 25 US dollars.


ELECTION PREPARATIONS


On January 28, Vladimir Rushailo, who chairs the steering committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States, CIS, met Kyrgyz prime minister Nikolay Tanaev in Bishkek and pledged to send more than 100 independent observers from the various former Soviet republics that make up the CIS. Russian media report that President Askar Akaev has asked the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, SCO, which includes Russia, China and the Central Asian states, may also send observers. States like Belarus, a CIS member, and China, which is part of the SCO, have not been generally commended for their expertise in running fair elections.


On January 21, the non-governmental organisation coalition For Democracy and Civil Society started training 120 long-term observers to monitor the parliamentary election and its aftermath in every region of Kyrgyzstan.


On January 22, the deadline set by the Central Election Committee for submitting applications to stand for election expired. As of January 25, 389 candidates had been registered out of a total of 469 applicants. More than 70 of them are party candidates and the rest are independents. 15 persons were denied registration, most of them on the grounds that their documentation was incomplete.