WELCOME TO IWPR'S REPORTING CENTRAL ASIA, No. 554, 5 November, 2008
TURKMENISTAN: NEW POLICIES BUT LITTLE SIGN OF CHANGE Turkmen leader wants new
ideology to signal a change from his predecessors rules, but is he serious
about changing the status quo? By IWPR staff in Central Asia
CHINESE FOOD SCARE SPILLS OVER INTO KYRGYZSTAN Imported flour thought to
contain the same harmful chemical identified in Chinese dairy product scandal.
By Gulzat Nadyrova in Bishkek
KYRGYZ PLAN NEW MODEL ARMY Plan for professional army jeopardised by funding
and coordination issues, say analysts. By ?syl Osmonalieva in Bishkek
KAZAK PUBLIC RESIGNED TO BRIBE CULTURE Paying out money to officials has
become the normal way of accessing free public services. By Olga Shevchenko in
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TURKMENISTAN: NEW POLICIES BUT LITTLE SIGN OF CHANGE
Turkmen leader wants new ideology to signal a change from his predecessors
rules, but is he serious about changing the status quo?
By IWPR staff in Central Asia
The authorities in Turkmenistan have launched a determined effort to cast off
the countrys old image as a closed, repressive state and rebrand it as a
modern democracy. The trouble is, say analysts, that too little has changed
under the surface to make this effort convincing.
President Gurbanguly Berdymuhammedov, elected in February 2007 following the
death of Saparmurat Niazov, began talking about the need for a new ideological
direction at the start of 2008. This, he said, was a different historical era
called Taze Galkynysh New Revival, and the central slogan was The state is
for the people.
The announcement was the first major sign that the Berdymuhammedov
administration planned to move away from the old regimes institutional
ideology, which revolved around the Ruhnama, a set of writings penned by Niazov
which covered everything from Turkmen history to moral precepts, and which was
required reading in the schools and the workplace. (See Turkmen Sacred Text
Heads for Oblivion, RCA No. 529, 31-Jan-08.)
Since January, the new political line has become a campaign issue, cited in all
major speeches and at government meetings. In case anyone was not listening,
the president instructed officials in August to improve the flow of public
information so that people would get an objective picture of the changes
under way in Turkmenistan. (See Turkmenistan Launches Image Campaign,
Berdymuhammedov elaborated on the content of the new ideology at a September 29
meeting in the Balkan region in the west of the country. He listed a set of
aspirational aims for the Turkmen state to become a democratic secular
society governed by the rule of law, its citizens enjoying civil rights and
liberties and taking part in a free market economy.
All this will make it possible to create the preconditions needed for the
country to achieve steady forward progress, Berdymuhammedov told the meeting.
It is far from certain whether the authorities are serious about building
anything resembling a democracy after all, that might involve them being
voted out of power. However, most commentators believe Berdymuhammedov is
determined to draw a line under Niazovs somewhat erratic rule.
Within the state structure of the new Turkmenistan theres a sense that the
old ideology is being squeezed out, said a journalist who works on one of the
state newspapers. That ideology drove everyone so crazy including people in
the presidents immediate entourage that its eradication has met with some
satisfaction in society.
Among commentators in Turkmenistan interviewed by IWPR, opinion on what the new
ideology might bring ranges from mild to extreme pessimism.
An activist with a non-government group specialising in youth issues said it
was clear the Berdymuhammedov administration was applying a new set of
principles, for example by opening up greater access to the internet and by
banning the use of child labour to gather cotton. This, he said, was clear
progress in a country that had gone through years of isolation from the outside
At the same time, he warned that broader changes might take many years to come
The results of the new ideology will become evident only in ten years time,
particularly in the spheres of cultural, spiritual and moral values, he said.
Other commentators focused on the present rather than the future, and said
Berdymuhammedovs time in office had been long on slogans and short on action.
While the Turkmen leader has instituted changes in areas such as education,
healthcare and social policy reversing some of the drastic cutbacks imposed
by his predecessor he has yet to live up to the pledges he has made to build
a more open, democratic society.
Commentators were also concerned that the period since Niazovs death has seen
the continuation of the same kind of abuses that characterised his rule, such
as the arbitrary imprisonment of dissenters.
A businessman in the capital Ashgabat said that despite the talk of a free
market, the authorities continued to hamper independent enterprise, which they
perceived as a form of competition.
Right now Ashgabat is suffering periodic shortages of certain foodstuffs, for
instance eggs, he said, by way of example. So where have they got to? Well,
it turns out that one reason is that a big poultry farm has closed down after
its owner got arrested. Thats how it is everywhere.
According to critics of Berdymuhammedovs record, it is the nature of the
regime itself hierarchical, inflexible and oppressive that makes change
impossible. Turkmen citizens enjoy none of the freedoms they would in a
democracy; the security services continue to exercise surveillance over them;
the state continues to lock up anyone who might oppose it; there are no
independent media and foreign reporters are barred from the country.
A lawyer working with one of the few non-government organisations that still
exist on the margins said there was little evidence that Turkmenistan was
evolving into the humane and just society described in the new state ideology.
If thats the case, why doesnt he [Berdymuhammedov] release the people who
ought not to be in prison, instead of pardoning thieves, murderers, rapists and
drug addicts who get long sentences but are let out under an amnesty a month
Another commentator highlighted the gulf between words and actions. The
president has said the December 14 parliamentary election offers the nation an
opportunity to elect true representatives to office. Yet the man in charge,
Central Electoral Commission chairman Murad Karryev, made it clear in a recent
televised speech that only people devoted to the president would be allowed
to participate in running the election,
After statements like that
it isnt hard to guess what kind of ideology the
authorities are pushing, said a local NGO activist.
Some analysts say the new ideology is not primarily for domestic consumption;
instead, the aim is to improve Turkmenistans image in the international
community and demonstrate that it is a respectable country to do business with,
rather than the bizarrely despotic state that Niazov presided over.
According to a Turkmen student currently studying in the Kyrgyzstan capital
Bishkek, the president is aware of the need to present a more open face to the
He realises that its difficult to compete in the marketplace if everything is
closed, he said. If you have large [energy] resources, you need a liberal
system and to open up your economic frontiers to pursue major projects.
The Turkmen authorities have made it clear they will talk to anyone who is
interested in developing their energy industry and buying their gas. That
includes western and Chinese investors as well as traditional partner Russia.
By any estimates, Turkmenistan possesses huge reserves of natural gas. Until
recently, international estimates suggested that the country had total
confirmed reserves of 2.86 trillion cubic metres of gas. However, on October
13, the British company Gaffney, Cline & Associates announced that an audit of
two fields in eastern Turkmenistan indicated that just one of them, South
Yolotan-Osman, contained between four and 14 trillion cu m placing it among
the top five world fields while the other, Yashlar, might have up to 1.5
trillion cu m.
The head of the state exploration firm Turkmengeologia, Odek Odekov, added that
the two fields accounted for only a quarter of Turkmenistans actual reserves.
Within Turkmenistan, questions remain about whether Berdymuhammedov is
committed to deliver even gradual reforms.
A journalist from the northern province of Dashoguz said all the talk of a
fresh start reminded him of the early years after the break-up of the Soviet
Union, when Niazov embarked on a nation-building project for the newly
independent Turkmen state.
As part of this process, the Communist Party of Soviet Turkmenistan underwent a
They took it and renamed it the Democratic Party. Communists instantaneously
became democrats. But the essence remained the same, he said. Its quite
possible the same will happen with this ideology.
A local journalist added a similar note of caution, Just as he half-opens the
door, he [Berdymuhammedov] has put his foot against it. After all, for him as a
protégé of the old regime, adopting new ideological principles are like trying
on someone elses clothes.
(The names of interviewees have been withheld out of concern for their
CHINESE FOOD SCARE SPILLS OVER INTO KYRGYZSTAN
Imported flour thought to contain the same harmful chemical identified in
Chinese dairy product scandal.
By Gulzat Nadyrova in Bishkek
A scare involving imports of Chinese flour has raised concerns about the rigour
with which the Kyrgyz government enforces food safety standards.
While the authorities have claimed they reacted as soon as they became aware
there was a problem, the discovery of contaminated flour has highlighted
defects in the way imported food is checked.
Reports that melamine, a potential harmful chemical, had been found in a
consignment of flour imported from China surfaced on a Kyrgyz news website on
October 23. The report also alleged that the flour was infested with khapra
beetle, a pest that originates from southeast Asia and is seen as a major
threat to foodstuffs.
Both claims were confirmed the following day. At a press conference in Bishkek,
Jolon Omkeev, who heads the Kyrgyz agriculture ministrys grain testing office,
said a substance believed to be melamine had been found in grain samples.
Omkeev said his laboratory was awaiting the results of tests done on samples
sent to Russia, which he explained was necessary before a formal complaint
could be lodged against the importer. He added that Kyrgyzstan did not have the
facilities to test accurately for the presence of melamine.
Melamine is a man-made substance that, when added to food products, makes it
appear that they have greater protein content. It is harmful to human health,
and is the chemical that contaminated dairy products in the recent scandal in
China, where four children died and more than 50,000 fell ill after consuming
tainted baby milk powder.
A government statement also issued on October 24 said larvae, probably of the
khrapra beetle, had been found in 112 tons of Chinese flour that arrived in
Kyrgyzstan on September 30. That consignment was impounded upon inspection,
said the statement.
The same day, the Chinese embassy in Bishkek issued a press release stating
that it had received full documentation from testing carried out in Kyrgyzstan
and Kazakstan, confirming that the imported flour was safe and of good quality.
The flour was part of the last batch of a total of 5,000 tons imported from
China by the state agency Kyrgyzresursy over the last year. The first shipment
was delivered last December, and the final consignment arrived on October 7.
The flour formed part of a Kyrgyz government policy to purchase grain to top up
national reserves and provide poor families with subsidised flour. The measure
was approved last year after the authorities were forced to draw on strategic
grain reserves to offset rapid rises in bread prices.
In the rush to secure adequate food supplies, the government may have failed to
look closely enough at some safety issues.
Taalaybek Dyusheev, deputy director of the National Institute for Standards and
Metrology, said Kyrgyzstans membership of the World Trade Organisation, WTO,
had required it to lift all barriers to free trade, as well as import tariffs.
Following Kyrgyzstans entry into the WTO, we abolished quality requirements
[for imported products], leaving only the requirement for safety, he said.
There are now question-marks over whether the earlier deliveries of flour from
China were checked thoroughly enough.
The first consignment went to the mill at Balykchi and was distributed to
low-income families and pensioners, said Larisa Saikina, who heads a
grain-testing laboratory. We didnt find any pests that would have required a
quarantine order. Although the flour wasnt up to standard according to many of
the benchmarks set out in the [accompanying] certificate, it was basically OK.
One of the more alarming aspects of this case is that although the government
says the consignment that arrived on September 30 was impounded immediately
after it was inspected, flour delivered on or after that date appears to have
made its way to its destination unimpeded.
Staff at a mill in Karabalta say they took delivery of two freight cars full of
flour on October 10.
The wagons arrived at night, [some] sacks burst and the flour spilled out it
had a distinctly unusual smell, said one eyewitness, a mill worker who asked
not to be named.
A week later, another consignment arrived and the management refused to accept
it, he said. There was a terrible hoo-ha. High-ranking officials came to see
us, and there was a Chinese representative there too. He and one of the
officials demanded that the sacks be unloaded, but the head of the quarantine
service and our own bosses categorically refused.
One of them shouted at our people that theyd be forced to accept the goods
and theyd have to pay penalties for the hold-up.
This source said the last batch of Chinese flour was now sitting at the
Karabalta plant but a seal had been placed on it signifying that it was not
to be touched.
Aside from the governments policies on food safety, many of the observers
interviewed by IWPR agreed there were problems at the point of entry to
Kyrgyzstan. Lax inspections are compounded by corruption.
According to Saikina, The problem isnt that they dropped quality standards;
its that there is an awful lot of corruption in this country. Custom officials
set own their tariffs [for bribes], and any businessman who pays up can import
any product, even of the most dubious quality.
Saikina added that the private companies that are licensed to issue product
quality certificates often hand over the papers without testing the item in
question, in return for a bribe.
An anonymous member of the financial police noted that officials as well as
businessmen take a cut when goods are approved for import without going through
the proper checks.
Commenting on the contaminated flour, he said, Theres a danger that the whole
affair will be placed on the back burner. But Im hoping that after the
publicity its had, the culprits will be punished.
Nikolai Bailo, a member of Kyrgyzstans parliament, told IWPR it was time to
introduce additional checking mechanisms.
Imported products have been through a first stage of quality control in their
country of origin, and we will shortly be seeking to require that a second
round of tests take place in our country, he said.
Gulzat Nadyrova is an IWPR contributor in Bishkek.
KYRGYZ PLAN NEW MODEL ARMY
Plan for professional army jeopardised by funding and coordination issues, say
By ?syl Osmonalieva in Bishkek
A major overhaul of the Kyrgyzstan military has been broadly welcomed as long
overdue, although some defence experts say lack of funding could hamper its
Defence Minister Bakytbek Kalyev announced a set of sweeping reforms at a press
conference on October 27. Under the plan, the military is to be transformed
from a conscript force into a largely professional force. As Kalyev put it,
real military strength depends not on the sheer numbers of troops but on their
Defence ministry staff numbers are to be cut, and a new arm of service
introduced the Mobile Forces together with a counter-terrorism and
counter-insurgency centre. Overall, the new army will have fewer generals,
fewer commissioned officers, and only a fifth of the rank-and-file will be
conscripted, with the rest taken on as volunteer professionals, known here as
The reforms will take place in three stages, the first of which will be
completed by June 2009, the second by the end of that year, with the final work
to be done by 2012.
The need for change stems from a watershed event in Kyrgyzstans recent
history. In 1999 and 2000, the southern region of Batken was the scene of
incursions by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an armed guerrilla movement
whose raids showed up the limitations of a Soviet-style conscript army, trained
only for conventional warfare and unable to respond flexibly as every move
depended on instructions sent down the chain of command.
Although the insurgents were eventually driven out, the armys sluggish
performance and poor state of readiness sparked significant debate and
criticism in Kyrgyzstan.
The Kyrgyz authorities took the lessons from Batken on board, and increased
defence spending and began training troops in counter-insurgency techniques and
When he announcing the reform, Defence Minister Kalyev referred explicitly to
the Batken experience.
Events in Batken [in 1999], when 50 militants infiltrated the south of the
country and 5,000 troops were sent to fight them, illustrated clearly that we
needed a mobile and professional army, he said.
As a retired general, Abdygany Chotbaev praises the defence ministrys plans
and agrees that the Batken conflict demonstrated that it is better to have a
well-trained mobile army than gunfodder.
However, he adds a note of caution, The transition to contract service has
been talked about for more than ten years but no concrete steps have been taken
to achieve it.
Chotbaev questions whether the government will have the funds to pay for what
is going to be a costly process.
To be effective, contract soldiers need to be provided with housing, their
children need to go to kindergartens and schools, and the soldiers need to be
paid a decent wage, he said. All that is going to need major expenditure.
The defence ministry has proposed one method of funding the professional army
the large number of young men who will no longer be conscripted will be
regarded as performing alternative service, and will have to hand part of their
civilian wages over to support the defence budget.
Chotbaev says the numbers just do not add up. You only have to look at the
high unemployment in this country to realise that any money paid by those on
alternative service isnt going to be enough to support the contract soldiers,
A serving member of the military, who asked to remain anonymous, told IWPR that
while it was desirable to have a professional army, it was not going to be easy
to recruit enough men.
Even as things stand, only half the contract soldier positions are filled. No
one wants to join a service that pays 3,000 soms [80 US dollars a month].
Introducing [near-universal] contract service may prove to be too big a burden
for the government budget.
This source also asked why only the regular armed forces controlled by the
defence ministry were going to be restructured, thus excluding the many other
agencies that have their own troops or paramilitary forces the interior
ministry, the National Security Service, the border troops, the National Guard
and the ministry for emergencies.
There was, he said, too much duplication of functions among these various
forces. He said that when a government commission had recommended bringing all
of them under one general staff, the idea met with strong resistance.
All the agencies and ministries remain as fragmented as before, duplicating
each other in some areas and competing in others, he said. I wouldnt call
this a reform it looks more like a shake-up within one agency.
?syl Osmonalieva is an IWPR-trained journalist in Bishkek.
KAZAK PUBLIC RESIGNED TO BRIBE CULTURE
Paying out money to officials has become the normal way of accessing free
By Olga Shevchenko in Almaty
Following a survey suggesting that corruption in Kazakstan remains as
widespread as ever, IWPR has gathered anecdotal evidence revealing that people
feel so helpless in the face of constant demands for bribes that they simply
pay up without complaint.
In the survey, the latest in a series conducted by the Almaty-based Association
of Political Scientists and Sociologists, almost 70 per cent of respondents
among the 3,000 people polled across the country believed it is was easier to
submit to demands for illicit payments rather than try to fight the system and
potentially lose out on benefits.
The poll was commissioned by Kazakstans governing party Nur Otan and published
on the Respublica.kz website on October 13. In a sign that the authorities are
keen to be seen to be addressing the all-pervasive problem of corruption, the
work was funded by the ministry for information and culture.
Kazakstan consistently scores poorly in the Corruption Perceptions Index
compiled by the watchdog group Transparency International. In this years
rating, the country was at 145th place out of 180. Although this is a poor
ranking in a list that goes in descending order, Kazakstan still gets better
marks than the other four Central Asian states, Russia and Azerbaijan.
Corruption in Kazakstan affects all areas of public life, including business
and politics. The local survey, however, focused on the impact of bribe-taking
on peoples daily lives, in the shape of the cash payments that are required to
get just about anything done.
At this level, the survey group said they believed the worst offenders for
taking bribes were doctors, traffic police and teachers all professions that
are normally expected to serve the public to a high ethical standard.
Bribes come in various forms the inducement paid to an official to win some
particular favour or to escape a penalty; and the illicit fee that is
demanded for a nominally free public service like medicine. Bribery is now so
commonplace in daily life that instead of fulfilling the function of gaining
some additional advantage, it operates as a kind of blackmail, where a routine
service or official document is denied to an applicant unless an illicit
payment is forthcoming.
For private businesses that need to file paperwork with state institutions and
apply for permits and other documents, bribery is an inevitable part of the
You have to pay for every document, and pay different bureaucrats, one
disgruntled businessman told IWPR. Its impossible to submit documents without
Unless a bribe is paid, state bureaucrats will find thousands of reasons to
delay their reply, or not to grant permission. The moment you pay up,
everything gets done within a day.
Members of the public interviewed by IWPR, as well as experts on the subject,
were pessimistic about the prospects for change.
BRIBES ACCEPTED AS STANDARD PRACTICE
To get a first-hand picture of what sustains corruption at a day-to-day level,
IWPR looked at the experience of one family.
The Azarbievs not their real name are a fairly typical middle-income urban
family who live in Almaty, Kazakstans biggest city and former capital. They
own the apartment they live in, a car and a dacha or summer house with a little
land around it that they use to grown vegetables.
Aslan Azarbiev is a senior engineer who works for a government firm, and his
wife Gauhar is a manager in a private company. Together they pull in a gross
income of 1,500 US dollars a month. They support one son, Arman, who is at
university, teenage daughter Kamila and another son, Yerzhan, who is still in
Like most people in Kazakstan, the various family members experience different
facets of corruption.
For Aslan, the main problem are the traffic police who regularly stop motorists
for the slightest offence real or invented - in the knowledge that they will
pay up rather than face the consequences.
I dont want to pay the legal fine as they will take my driving license away
after two penalty points, he said.
Effectively the traffic cops calculate that drivers are prepared to pay a small
amount on an all-too-frequent basis rather than face a fine or other penalty,
which can include being forced to re-sit the driving test. They know that these
legal processes are merely opportunities to extract much larger bribes.
It isnt difficult to re-sit the test, but theyd fail you nevertheless, he
explained. Someone would come up to you later
and offer to replace your test
result [with a pass] for 300 dollars.
So its easier to pay 2,000 tenge [17 dollars] on the spot.
Gauhar talks about how having a young child makes parents the target of further
demands for money. For example, she admits paying 250 dollars to the manager of
a state-funded kindergarten to place her son at the top of the waiting list.
Now that Yerzhan is attending nursery, Gauhar and other parents have to pay out
of their pockets to sustain the teacher. Every month we pay 500 tenge [four
dollars] each to the nursery teacher so that she wont leave. There is a
shortage of teachers, and her salary is only 14,000 tenge [120 dollars] a
month, said Gauhar. We cant afford to hire a nanny so we end up paying the
official kindergarten fee plus extra money for the staff.
For Arman, bribery is an inescapable part of university life. He is lucky
enough to be on a government grant, which he only gets if his academic results
are good. To pass his exams, he has to slip the lecturers some money.
Every single person in my circle has paid a bribe at least once, he said.
The lecturers will always find fault with your exam results. Its better to
pay 5,000 tenges to make sure you dont have problems with the resit.
Kamila describes a different form of illicit levy this time imposed by the
school as a whole rather than by individual teachers. Although public-sector
education is free of charge, Kamilas parents have to pay the school a monthly
fee as a contribution to running costs. They also have to buy textbooks from
the school even though these should be provided for nothing.
If you dont pay 1,000 tenge [eight dollars] to the school fund, the teacher
will read out your name on a list of those who failed to pay
. If you dont buy
a textbook, you might get told to leave the lesson or get given a low mark. We
always need schoolbooks and they cost 800 tenge dollars each, said Kamila.
State healthcare is another area where members of the public have to pay for
notionally free services, as well as giving sweeteners to individual staff.
With a young child, Gauhar Azarbieva often has to take him to medical
Every visit to a health centre or a hospital entails giving gifts and money to
doctors. Otherwise you wont get some medical certificate you need, or you
wont get any attention, she said.
Another resident of Almaty, who did not want to be named, recalled her own
recent hospital experience when she was ignored until she handed over some cash.
I was admitted to a maternity hospital during a public holiday. For nearly two
days I was left on my own. As soon as my husband gave money to individual
doctors and nurses, I got proper care and attention, she said.
This woman said it was pointless to try to object.
I dont think theres any sense in fighting against corruption, she said. It
will only make your situation worse.
According to Bigeldy Gabdullin, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Central Asia
Monitor, corruption is a legacy of the Soviet system, exacerbated by the
transition to a market economy.
The disease of corruption is common to all people from the former [Soviet]
republics both for historical reasons and because these states are going
through a period of transition, he said.
Among the analysts interviewed for this report, the consensus was that
corruption was now so entrenched that it was less the exception than the rule
where individuals try to avoid established procedures, than a well-oiled
mechanism for exacting illicit payments in returned for basic entitlements.
In my view, in 90 per cent of all bribery cases, it is state institutions that
deliberately create artificial hurdles so as to force people to pay bribes,
said local lawyer Sergei Utkin. If the state itself of creating conditions
where its best to pay up, then you have little option but to do so.
Yerbol Kasymov, deputy chairman of the anti-corruption council of the Nur Otan
partys Almaty branch, blames dishonest individuals rather than the entire
It isnt as if someone wants to pay bribes; the bureaucrat literally forces
him to do so, he said.
FORMS OF REDRESS NOW AVAILABLE, BUT QUESTIONS REMAIN OVER POLITICAL WILL FOR
The Kazak government acknowledges that there is a problem, and adopted a
programme to counter corruption two years ago. Nor is there any shortage of
legislation an anti-corruption law coupled with a decree aimed at dishonest
state officials. A conviction for taking bribes can lead to a ten-year prison
sentence, while those who offer illegal inducements can also face prosecution.
Sergei Zlotnikov, director of the Transparency Kazakstan group, explained,
paying a bribe of more than ten dollars can result in a two-year jail term and
the seizure of ones assets.
People who decide to offer a bribe need to realise that they are committing a
criminal act, he added.
There are now numerous centres offering legal advice and help to people who
want to make a complaint, and Almaty and the capital Astana also have phone
hotlines where people can ring in to report cases.
Kasymov says his council has investigated 400 claims so far.
The most important thing is for people not to offer illegal inducements but to
go higher up the system or to specialised centres to get help, he said.
Some commentators hold that the low-level corruption that affects the average
citizen is inseparable from the nature of the political regime in Kazakstan,
and argue that the former cannot change unless the latter does, too.
Its going to be impossible to root out corruption unless honest leaders with
clean hands come to power, said. Asylbek Kojakhmetov, who heads a residents
pressure group called Shanyrak. The system wont change as long as the bosses
of state institutions win approbation from their colleagues by giving them
expensive gifts of dubious provenance. That corporate ethic among state
officials forms the basis for corruption.
Kojakhmetov welcomes the introduction of anti-corruption legislation, although
he insists that laws must target those at the top rather than the average
person who has little option but to pay bribes.
A professor of politics who did not want to be named said the authorities would
need to show they were serious about dealing with the problem before their
anti-corruption efforts were seen as credible.
They arrest and try a few people a mere handful of cases and put this on
television just for show, he said, suggesting that bigger fish never get
According to Viktoria of the Kazakstan Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law,
only a total purge of the corrupt will work and that will only become
possible either if theres a change of political leadership, or if the current
leadership demonstrates the political will.
MOOD OF RESIGNATION
Lawyer Sergei Utkin is confidence that with the right kind of public campaigns,
people would be encouraged to stand up and be counted.
People will be prepared to fight [corruption] if they are offered a specific
action plan, presented accessibly and in the right way, he said.
Yet many Kazakstan citizens appear to prefer the path of least resistance.
For me, its easier to leave things as they are, said Aslan Azarbiev. If I
start lodging complaints and fighting for justice, I might lose my job. They
dont like people like that in Kazakstan.
And there will always be attempts to get round the rules. A student who
declined to give his name said people would turn to middlemen to escape
I dont know about other universities, but at ours you can pay 300 dollars to
a particular individual who will negotiate good marks with your teacher. Thanks
to these people, I will never get caught giving a bribe, he said.
Olga Shevchenko is an IWPR contributor in Almaty.
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