WELCOME TO IWPR'S REPORTING CENTRAL ASIA, No. 529 Part 1, January 31, 2008
COLD SNAP WREAKS HAVOC ON CENTRAL ASIAN POWER Ageing electricity networks
have been pushed to the limits by this winters prolonged sub-zero
temperatures. By Jyldyz Mamytova in Bishkek and Yaroslav Razumov in Almaty
ASHGABAT PRESSES IRAN FOR HIGHER GAS PRICE While both sides engage in a war of
words, Turkmenistan holds most of the aces in this regional energy dispute. By
Abdujalil Abdurasulov in Almaty
TURKMEN SACRED TEXT HEADS FOR OBLIVION Presidents decision to unveil his
own ideology marks another step away from the personality cult fostered by his
predecessor. By IWPR staff in Central Asia
WEARY KYRGYZ SCEPTICAL OF ECONOMIC MIRACLE Presidents bullish talk of
stability and prosperity arouses a good deal of scepticism in a country where
poverty remains the norm. By Gulnara Mambetalieva and Tolkunbek Turdubaev in
**** IWPR RESOURCES
2008 KURT SCHORK AWARDS IN INTERNATIONAL JOURNALISM Call for entries now open.
For more details visit http://iwpr.net/kurtschork.html
NEW PROJECT: IWPR now operates a major new media project in Asia. Visit IWPR's
new Philippine Human Rights Reporting Project website at
CROSS CAUCASUS JOURNALISM NETWORK. IWPR has launched the website of a unique
Caucasus-wide programme at www.crosscaucasus.net
SAHAR JOURNALISTS ASSISTANCE FUND: IWPR is establishing a fund, in honour of
Sahar al-Haideri, to support journalist participants in its training and
reporting programmes around the world. The Sahar Journalists Assistance Fund
will be used to support local journalists in cases of exile or disability, or
to assist their families in case of death in service. To find out more or
donate please go to: http://www.iwpr.net/sahar.html
REPORTING CENTRAL ASIA RSS: http://www.iwpr.net/en/rca/rss.xml
TURKMEN RADIO: INSIDE VIEW is an IWPR radio training and broadcast project for
Turkmenistan. View at: http://www.iwpr.net/?p=trk&s=p&o=-&apc_state=henh
RECEIVE FROM IWPR: Readers are urged to subscribe to IWPR's full range of free
electronic publications at:
GIVE TO IWPR: IWPR is wholly dependent upon grants and donations. For more
information about how you can support IWPR go to:
COLD SNAP WREAKS HAVOC ON CENTRAL ASIAN POWER
Ageing electricity networks have been pushed to the limits by this winters
prolonged sub-zero temperatures.
By Jyldyz Mamytova in Bishkek and Yaroslav Razumov in Almaty
The worst winter in decades has hit Central Asia with one of the worst energy
crises in memory, forcing factories to close and leaving people shivering in
Abnormally low seasonal temperatures, plunging to 30 or 40 degrees below zero,
have pushed electric consumption to a record high.
In Kyrgyzstan, a state rich in hydroelectric power, daily consumption is ten
per cent higher than it normally would be at this time of year. The jump in use
caused water levels in the main reservoir at Toktogul to fall alarmingly as the
turbines were kept running in an effort to keep up with demand.
In Tajikistan, which suffers from annual winter energy crises despite its
substantial hydroelectric generating capacity, savage power cuts have inflicted
severe damage on industrial output and raised questions about the competence of
the political leadership.
Even energy-rich Kazakstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have experienced power
cuts as sharply-rising domestic consumption overwhelms capacity.
An observer in the Balkan region of western Turkmenistan described the energy
crisis in schools and hospitals as critical.
The worst situation is in the schools, said this source. All the local
schools have had their boilers cut off, and as a result most teachers hold
classes for only 15 minutes and then let the children go. Vadim, a businessman
in Kazakstan whose scrap-metal recycling firm relies on electrical power, says
the cuts have inflicted major damage on his company.
The smelting process uses up a lot of electricity, he explained. Now we are
suffering big losses and experiencing technological problems.
Energy industry experts say the Kyrgyz electricity grid had failed a crucial
test as a result of the abnormal cold.
Almaz Abdrahmanov, a resident of the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, said that despite
freezing daily temperatures of around 20 below zero, the new residential
district of Archa-Beshik had been without power for three days.
The electricity shortages come as consumers across the region faces problems
with supply of natural gas, again as a consequence of the harsh winter
conditions. Major producer Uzbekistan is struggling to cope with increased
demand at home and curtailing exports to its neighbours. (See IWPR reports on
this: Uzbekistan Sees Rare Protests Over Gas Shortage and Sparks Fly as Tajiks
Endure Power Cuts, RCA No. 528, 25-Jan-08.)
In Kazakstan, Petr Svoik, an economist and former minister who once ran a power
station, says even this energy-rich country cannot cope with the current high
rates of demand. The crisis, he says, has highlighted the failure to carry out
long-overdue repair work to cables and power plants.
Experts note that the country is capable of producing a maximum of 70 billion
kilowatts per hour, not enough to for crisis situations such as the recent hard
However, given the continuing lack of investment in the system, an immediate
increase in electricity production looks unlikely.
A unified energy system for the whole of Kazakstan has not yet been created,
Svoik said. In practice, it consists of a number of regional energy
Svoik said relatively little was being done to modernise the power grid. The
authorities have not yet decided which facilities to build first, and when it
comes to what to build and who will supply the money, theres been an absolute
failure, he said.
While Kazakstans electricity industry has received some investment over the
last four years, experts say about 70 per cent of the system remains unfit for
If immediate and resolute measures are not taken to renovate energy
facilities, the power supply system will inevitably collapse, and this will
have many negative social and economic consequences, said Alexander Trofimov,
head of Kazselenergoproekt, which works on electricity projects for rural areas
In Kyrgyzstan, besides fundamental problems with generating capacity, there is
the additional and widespread problem of illegal diversion of power supplies,
which goes on largely undetected and leads to large revenue losses.
Gulya Muratalieva, spokesman for the Severelektro power company in Bishkek,
says most of the theft appears to occur in Bishkek, a city that is home to more
than a million people.
Its difficult to calculate how many customers Severelektro serves in the
capital today, since no one knows what the real population of Bishkek is,
Muratalieva told IWPR. People connect cables to transmission lines without
permission and so use up energy without it being recorded on a meter.
The capital is also inefficient in its use of electricity. Most people use
homemade heaters in their apartments that consume about five times more power
than modern factory-produced heaters.
Another problem is that the meters are worn-out and inaccurate. Most of
Severelektros customers have old meters that often act up in the extreme cold
and fail to record consumption accurately.
But as one Bishkek resident told IWPR, few people worry about stealing
electricity when their homes are freezing.
He and his family were forced to move into a hotel for several days when it
became intolerable to remain in their cold home.
Our area has no central heating or gas heating, he said. There are no
coal-fired stoves in the houses, either the rooms are heated with electricity
and we cook on electric stoves, too, he explained.
When the power is cut, we practically freeze and go hungry.
Jyldyz Mamytova and Yaroslav Razumov are IWPR contributors in Bishkek and
ASHGABAT PRESSES IRAN FOR HIGHER GAS PRICE
While both sides engage in a war of words, Turkmenistan holds most of the aces
in this regional energy dispute.
By Abdujalil Abdurasulov in Almaty
A worsening energy dispute between Iran and Turkmenistan may have dealt a fatal
blow to plans to build a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Europe, running
through Iran, experts say.
The crisis, which erupted in late December when Turkmenistan halted gas exports
to northern Iran, has bloomed into a full-scale diplomatic standoff between the
Officially, Turkmen officials said the gas supply was cut because Tehran had
failed to pay its bills, thus obstructing vital maintenance work to the
200-kilometre Korpeje-Kord Koy pipeline to Iran.
Irans failure to fulfill its obligations and pay for previous natural gas
is holding back completion of the repairs and maintenance work [to
the pipeline], said a foreign ministry statement.
Irans deputy oil and gas minister, Akbar Torkan, denounced the decision to cut
off the gas during the freezing winter as immoral. Tehran said problems over
unpaid bills ought to have been discussed bilaterally before Turkmenistan
resorted to extreme measures.
Iran claimed the real reason Turkmenistan halted exports was to increase the
pressure on Tehran to accept a doubling in the gas price from 75 to 140 US
dollars per 1,000 cubic metres.
In the meantime, the proposed Turkmenistan-Iran-Turkey pipeline seems likely to
become a casualty of the quarrel.
Since the early Nineties, Iran, Turkey and Turkmenistan have been discussing a
1,400 km-long pipeline with an annual capacity of 28 billion cu m, and last
year they signed another memorandum confirming their plans.
With little sign of reconciliation in sight between two of them, work on the
scheme now looks unlikely.
TURKMEN SEEK BETTER DEAL
While the two sides trade recriminations over the causes of the dispute, most
energy experts agree the pricing issue is central.
The original gas agreement between the two countries was signed in 1998, and is
intended to cover the period to 2024. This agreement has been periodically
updated since then, with new arrangements for pricing and export volumes.
In 2006, Iran agreed that its neighbour could raise the gas price from 42 to 65
dollars per 1,000 cu m, while Turkmenistan pledged to increase annual exports
from 5.8 to eight billion cu m in 2006 and then to 14 billion in 2007.
However, the increase in export volumes did not happen at the anticipated pace,
and experts say no more than eight billion cu m went to Iran in 2007.
Last year, the Iranians agreed to another price rise, to 75 dollars per 1,000
cu m. One industry source quoted by Iranian media claimed this agreement
included a pledge not to increase prices again for three years.
Many energy analysts believe the stoppage in December was an attempt to force
Tehran to accept Ashgabats terms.
Oleg Lukin, an Ashkhabad-based analyst with the Neftegazovaya Vertical
magazine, said price disputes were the only possible explanation. If Tehran
had agreed to pay a higher price, no repair works
would have stopped the gas
exports, he said.
Jonathan Stern, from the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, also expressed
doubt in the truth of the Turkmen assertion that repairs to the pipeline had
However, Murad Esenov, an expert on Turkmenistan and editor of the
Swedish-based Central Asia and the Caucasus Journal, maintained that apart from
pricing issues, there were other factors at play, such as the dilapidated state
of the Turkmen gas industry and its inability to meet even current demand.
Esenov said Turkmenistan had spent too little on developing its gas industry
and had not attracted foreign investment. For all these years, they have been
using what was left over from the Soviet Union, he said. The gas industry has
not been modernised at all.
As a result, Esenov believes Turkmenistan has recently been finding it
difficult to produce enough gas to meet all its export commitments. In
addition, he says exports have recently been curtailed to meet soaring domestic
demand over the unusually cold weather.
They simply reduced their exports in order to meet domestic needs, he said.
Exports to Iran stopped completely and shipments to Russia and Ukraine were
also significantly reduced.
Turkmenistan has denied reducing gas supplies to Russia. In a press statement,
the foreign ministry said the industry was fulfilling its obligations and
carrying out deliveries of Turkmen natural gas to Russia in strict compliance
with contractual terms.
TURKMEN HAVE THE UPPER HAND
The text of the 1998 agreement governing gas exports to Iran was never made
public, so it is hard to judge who has the upper hand when disputes occur. In
the current case, though, most experts believe Turkmenistan is in a better
position to dictate terms.
Stern says there can be only two possible outcomes to the current row - either
Iran agrees to the Turkmen conditions, or it does not get any more gas from
Lukin agrees that Tehran is more likely to blink first. It is not beneficial
for Iran to lose the gas supplier for its northern provinces, he said,
explaining that while the Iranians are themselves rich in gas, it would cost
them a good deal of money to build a new pipeline connecting their gas fields
in the south to their northeaster provinces. The current Korpeje-Kord Koy
pipeline meets this demand at a reasonable cost.
Tehran is now suggesting that it has the right to seek international
arbitration on the dispute. Foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini
said last week that the terms of the original contract give Iran the right to
appeal to international legal authorities in the eventuality of a breach of
the gas agreement.
But Stern doubts the original contract made provision for such arbitration, and
if it did, he says, the legal case would turn on the detail of the price
clause(s) in the contract.
According to Jonathan Hines, a lawyer from Dewey & LeBoeuf, a firm specialising
in energy matters, contracts normally set out a fixed or escalating price table
with reference to standard market indicators. The contract cannot simply have
nothing to say about prices, he says.
Hines believes a mutually agreed solution to the dispute is more likely than an
Iranian surrender. They are neighbouring countries, not a private company, he
says. They cannot go away from each other; they have to deal with one another
on a daily basis.
MORE COMPETITION TO BUY TURKMEN GAS
Turkmenistan has shown before that it can play hardball over energy. In 1997,
it cut off gas supplies to Russia for two years after the two countries failed
to agree on new prices.
Because Russia was the only major purchaser of Turkmen gas, Turkmenistan was
eventually forced to make concessions. But the situation is now changing. While
Moscow remains the dominant player, there are more potential buyers lining up
in anticipation of future opportunities, not least China, which is planning to
lay a pipeline to bring Turkmen gas to its energy-hungry economy.
Tehran will also have to face the fact that Russia has already agreed to pay
more for Turkmen gas than the 100 dollars per 1,000 cu m it was charged last
year. In November, the giant gas company Gazprom agreed to pay 130 dollars per
1,000 cu m for the first half of 2008, and then 150 dollars for the rest of the
year. The price could well rise even further in 2009.
China, too, seems prepared to accommodate higher tariffs. Citing China
Securities Journal, Reuters recently reported that Beijing had agreed to a
price of 195 dollars per 1,000 cu m from 2009.
In other words, if Tehran does not agree to pay more, Turkmenistan may sell its
gas to others at the most advantageous price.
DISPUTE AFFECTS WIDER REGION
While the crisis may have torpedoed any remaining hopes of constructing a
pipeline to transport Central Asian gas to Europe via Iran and Turkey, analysts
note that other practical difficulties had already rendered the project highly
For one thing, the United States is bitterly opposed to any pipeline project
that involves its arch-enemy Iran.
Meanwhile, what may look like a localised dispute has had a kind of domino
effect on other states in the region. After Turkmenistan suspended the supply
of gas to Iran, Tehran stopped exporting to Turkey, which in turn halted sales
of the fuel to Greece.
Experts say that given the unstable relations between states in this region,
chain reactions of this kind will always be a risk.
According to Stern, one lesson is clear in order for pipeline projects to
succeed, it is important that they involve as few transit countries as
Abdujalil Abdurasulov is an IWPR contributor in Almaty.
TURKMEN SACRED TEXT HEADS FOR OBLIVION
Presidents decision to unveil his own ideology marks another step away from
the personality cult fostered by his predecessor.
By IWPR staff in Central Asia
Turkmenistans president ruler has set out a new ideological framework for his
isolated country, leading observers to conclude that his predecessors book,
the Ruhnama, which was accorded near-sacred status, is about to be displaced.
President Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov formally unveiled the new national
ideology, entitled A State for People, on January 19.
The main goal of the ideology, he said, was a spiritual reawakening for
society, a new sense of awareness based on a national creative revival and
the education of a new generation of young people. He said it would contribute
to the development of a secular society underpinned by the rule of law and
market economic principles.
I believe my main task is to protect human rights and freedoms, to ensure
equality and the observance of laws by all citizens of the country, and to
build a highly developed society, said Berdymuhammedov.
The announcement of the new ideology has been seen as a sign that the regime is
distancing itself from the eccentric policies and personality cult propagated
by Berdymuhammedovs predecessor, Saparmurat Niazov, who died in December 2006.
Under Niazov, the former Soviet republic became an increasingly closed society
where people were force-fed a diet of propaganda in praise of Niazovs alleged
Resources were diverted towards lavish prestige projects glorifying the regime
and its leader, including gold-plated statues of the man who styled himself
Turkmenbashi or Leader of the Turkmen.
While foreign cultural influences brought in by the Soviets, including
Russian literature, the opera and the ballet, were downgraded or closed down
entirely, Niazovs philosophical ruminations, the Ruhnama or Book of the Spirit
became the obligatory text.
Extolled as the fount of wisdom on morality and ethics, the Ruhnama gathers
together Niazovs thoughts on Turkmen folklore, history and mythology in a
compendium designed as a handbook to life. Under his rule, it became a
mandatory subject in primary and secondary schools and in universities, and
civil servants and others were tested on their knowledge of it.
The work was cited everywhere. Each day, before the main TV news programme,
announcers would read out 20 pages from the sacred book. Officials fired for
poor performance and pardoned criminals showed their repentance by placing
their hands on copies of the Ruhnama.
The quasi-religious significance attached to the book jarred with the beliefs
of a predominantly Muslim population, and the chief Islamic cleric was sacked
after raising his voice against an order to place copies of the Ruhnama in the
mosques, thus equating it with the Koran.
Berdymuhammedov has already signalled his distaste for some of the cultural
excesses of the former regime, such as the disbandment of the national opera
and ballet companies. In his January 19 speech, the president said his new
ideology envisaged the revival of opera, ballet and circuses forms of
entertainment that Niazov regarded as alien elements.
Less obviously, Berdymuhammedov has also started dismantling the cult of the
Ruhnama, observers say. Since his legitimacy stems from being the successor to
Niazov, it will be difficult from him to perform a complete about-face on the
regimes symbolic centerpiece.
The role of the sacred book is decreasing substantially, one observer from
Ashgabat told IWPR. People are now getting jobs in ideological [educational]
institutes without having to pass exams on the Ruhnama. The book is mentioned
far less often on radio and television, and the hours-long readings have become
a thing of the past.
Other observers report an atmosphere of abandonment at the numerous Ruhnama
propaganda centres set up in towns and villages across Turkmenistan.
The staff at the Ruhnama centres are in a state of uneasy expectation, said
one staff member. Now that the authorities no longer hold any ceremonial
events here, were afraid we will be closed down.
He added somewhat forlornly, We truly hope the Ruhnama will be replaced by
another work written by the current president or by his scribes.
A media analyst from the Dashoguz region in the north of the country said it
was just a matter of time before the Ruhnama was consigned to oblivion.
There is no point in Berdymuhammedov leaning on somebody elses book and ideas
as he tries to form his own ideology and personality cult, he said.
However, some people complain that the new ideological direction outlined by
Berdymuhammedov so far is lacking in substance.
The president wants culture to become the instrument of a new ideology that
does not yet exist in reality, said one employee of an environmental
organisation in Ashgabat.
A radio journalist also voiced strong doubts about the value and sincerity of
the presidents change of course.
Big deal! he said. They are restoring the opera, the circus and the Academy
of Sciences, but are there any real changes? he asked. We dont have any more
freedom as a result.
Despite the fact that Berdymuhammedov has lifted restrictions on peoples
freedom of movement at home and subscription to some foreign publications is
now allowed, the jails still host a good many political prisoners and the media
remains strictly censored.
The government has shown it is determined to retain control over access to
information, and has recently been clamping down on satellite television.
Turkmenistan counts as one the least free countries in the world in most
Rights activists say the presidents call for ideological renewal will be taken
more seriously when he makes real moves to allow democratic freedoms.
The new ideology ought to be based on the creation of democratic institutions,
if the president really yearns for societal renewal according to his declared
principle of a state for people, said a civil activist in the western Balkan
The media analyst from Dashoguz agreed, adding, The government needs to move
away from total control over society, to give people real freedom, permit an
independent media and allow them to criticise the government, permit
non-governmental organisations and in general allow everything that
A school head said he feared the new ideology would be much like the old cult,
as it was being built on praise for Berdymuhammedovs so-called era of a great
History is repeating itself, the teacher claimed, and the fact that one of
the additional hours allotted for studying the Ruhnama has been removed from
the school timetable does not fill me with optimism. Its early to rejoice -
the Ruhnama may simply be replaced by something else.
But other observers in Turkmenistan are more optimistic, noting the broad
support that the plan for cultural revival has won.
One singer said the president recently received a standing ovation at a
gathering of the countrys intelligentsia when he outlined his vision of the
When the president announced the new ideology at this meeting, the famous
musician Solmaz Muhammedova thanked Berdymuhammedov for rescuing some of the
peoples favourites from oblivion and we all stood up and applauded him, he
An employee of the newspaper Nesil was similarly upbeat, saying, Now
everything will be different. The president has waited for the anniversary of
Niazovs death to pass, and a real transformation is about to start.
(The names of interviewees have been withheld out of concern for their
WEARY KYRGYZ SCEPTICAL OF ECONOMIC MIRACLE
Presidents bullish talk of stability and prosperity arouses a good deal of
scepticism in a country where poverty remains the norm.
By Gulnara Mambetalieva and Tolkunbek Turdubaev in Bishkek
Declarations by the leader of Kyrgyzstan, one of the poorest states in the
former Soviet Union, that an economic breakthrough is just around the corner
have been met with incredulity in many quarters.
President Kurmanbek Bakiev has said that the eight per cent economic growth
rates and the massive rise in the government budget seen in the last two years
show the economy is on the right track.
Bakiev, who came to power after street protests toppled his predecessor Askar
Akaev in March 2005, also holds Kyrgyzstan up as a model of political stability
since the December 2007 election awarded the pro-presidential party Ak Jol most
seats in parliament.
The recent parliamentary election
has turned a new page in our countrys
political development, Bakiev boasted in a national address in late December.
We were able to resolve a number of important social and economic issues...
and Im convinced the successes we achieved will form the basis for
strengthening the foundations we have already laid.
Few would question the fact that Kyrgyzstan now appears fairly calm following
three years of political turmoil.
After the street riots of 2005 that brought Bakiev to power, the new president
himself came under pressure from recurrent demonstrations in 2006 and early
2007. However, he has regained momentum, getting a new constitution passed by a
national referendum last autumn and then calling the election which left his
supporters in Ak Jol in control of the legislature.
Murat Shaimkulov, who works in the presidential administrations department for
economic and social policy, says the new balance of power between parliament
and executive will pave the way to economic progress.
Now that we have achieved political stability in society, a new era of
coordinated work between all branches of government the legislature,
executive and judiciary - has begun, he said.
The foundations for an economic breakthrough have been laid, and the eight per
cent real growth of gross domestic product points precisely to this.
Economy Minister Akylbek Japarov cites gold mining as another likely source of
prosperity, given the marked rise in world gold prices. He predicts that
hydroelectric power will become an additional money-spinner for Kyrgyzstan,
saying that only a tenth of the countrys potential to generate power had been
exploited so far.
Outside the world of government officials, however, economic predictions are
far less rosy.
Analysts point out that Kyrgyzstans growth rates will depend not only on
political stability but on the success of privatisation policies, especially in
the energy sector.
The Kyrgyz government is currently launching the last phase of privatizing
several major energy companies including Kyrgyzgaz, Severelektro and carbon
fuel-fired power plants in the Bishkek, Osh and Jalalabad.
Experience has also made ordinary people far less optimistic about the future
than government officials.
Anara Abisheva, a teacher from Bishkek, said that even if economic growth rates
proved healthy, she doubted it would make any difference to her family as
rising inflation was devouring their savings and more than canceling out salary
Even the official figures concede that inflation hit the 20 per cent level in
2007, making basic foodstuffs much more expensive for shoppers and hitting the
I havent noticed any economic growth, said Abisheva, 55. My salary is only
enough to buy food, and sometimes I cant afford so much as a sausage.
All I see is that some people are getting richer and that there are many
expensive cars in Bishkek, whereas honest folk like us can hardly make ends
Most economic indices paint a fairly dismal portrait of endemic poverty,
inefficiency and corruption.
Kyrgyzstan has one of the highest levels of labour out-migration of any of the
Central Asian states, and remains unable to attract significant foreign
investment because of perceptions that its business climate is unwelcoming, its
tax legislation opaque and its legal system far fromtransparent.
A recent World Bank study placed Kyrgyzstan near the bottom of a ranking of
countries by tax regime and ease of starting a business, while the watchdog
Transparency International rated Kyrgyzstan 145th out of 163 countries in terms
of corruption, for the year 2006.
Former finance minister Taalaibek Koichumanov says it is absurd to make
optimistic predictions on the economy given the unfavourable investment
conditions in the country.
As for the investment climate, the situation here is still quite wretched,
Koichumanov told IWPR. This is connected to the poor potential of most state
institutions, the lack of transparency in decision-making, and corruption.
Ishenbay Abdrazakov, who heads Project for the Future, a political think tank,
says that if Kyrgyzstan is to escape the economic doldrums, it needs to do more
than achieve a minimum level of political stability.
He identifies the key challenges as introducing modern technology into
industry, recruiting people with higher skills across the economy, and
establishing cast-iron legal safeguards for business.
We just dont have any of those things here, he said. And without them, I
can scarcely believe we are on the verge of an economic breakthrough.
Encouraging qualified graduates to remain in Kyrgyzstan will remain difficult
as long as the brain drain continues to suck the most enterprising people out
of the country to Russia, Kazakstan and beyond. About a million Kyrgyzstan
nationals a fifth of the population - now live abroad as labour migrants.
Opposition politician Ravshan Jeenbekov says a country that cannot keep
talented young people at home is doomed to stagnation.
The whole point is that our system has not created any competition of ideas,
people and business, he said.
Sapar Orozbakov, director of the Bishkek Centre of Economic Analysis, offers an
equally bleak view of Kyrgyzstans prospects.
My forecast for the near future is quite grim, he said. Our economic growth
last year was achieved mainly
as a result of unusually high economic growth in
neighbouring states, Kazakstan in particular.
Because Kyrgyzstans prospects were dependent on the knock-on effects of
prosperity in other economies, Orozbakov said it was unwise to take its current
growth levels for granted.
Gulnara Mambetalieva and Tolkunbek Turdubaev are IWPR contributors in
REPORTING CENTRAL ASIA provides the international community with a unique
insiders' perspective on the region. Using our network of local journalists,
the service publishes news and analysis from across Central Asia on a weekly
The service forms part of IWPR's Central Asia Project based in Almaty, Bishkek,
Tashkent and London, which supports media development and encourages better
local and international understanding of the region.
IWPR's Reporting Central Asia is supported by the Global Conflict Prevention
Pool of UK government and Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The opinions expressed in Reporting Central Asia are those of the authors and
do not necessarily represent those of the publication or of IWPR.
REPORTING CENTRAL ASIA: Editor-in-Chief: Anthony Borden; Managing Editor: Yigal
Chazan; Senior Editor: John MacLeod; Central Asia Editor: Saule
Mukhametrakhimova; Programme Director: Kumar Bekbolotov.
IWPR PROJECT DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT: Executive Director: Anthony Borden;
Strategy & Assessment Director: Alan Davis; Chief Programme Officer: Mike Day.
IWPR builds democracy at the frontlines of conflict and change through the
power of professional journalism. IWPR programs provide intensive hands-on
training, extensive reporting and publishing, and ambitious initiatives to
build the capacity of local media. Supporting peace-building, development and
the rule of law, IWPR gives responsible local media a voice.
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
48 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8LT, UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 7831 1030 Fax: +44 (0)20 7831 1050
For further details on this project and other information services and media
programmes, go to: www.iwpr.net
ISSN: 1477-7924 Copyright © 2008 The Institute for War & Peace Reporting
If you wish to change your subscription details or unsubscribe please go to: