WELCOME TO IWPR'S REPORTING CENTRAL ASIA, No. 602, February 10, 2010
UZBEKISTAN: ALARM AT RISE IN CANCER CASES Medical staff complain of shortage
of specialist care, medicines and hospital beds. By Bakhtior Rasulov in
KYRGYZ REWRITE LEADERSHIP SUCCESSION RULES Parliament devises compromise to
ease passage of constitutional amendments. Pavel Dyatlenko in Bishkek
KYRGYZSTAN: CONCERN OVER JOURNALISTS SAFETY Violent attacks prompt media
community to act. By Asyl Osmonalieva in Bishkek
IWPR PROJECT REVIEW: OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 09
VIDEOS OF THE 2009 KURT SCHORK AWARDS CEREMONY
CENTRAL ASIA HUMAN RIGHTS REPORTING PROJECT
**** IWPR RESOURCES
CENTRAL ASIA RADIO: http://iwpr.net/centralasiaradio
CENTRAL ASIA PROGRAMME HOME: http://iwpr.net/centralasia
IWPR COMMENT: http://iwpr.net/comment
SAHAR JOURNALISTS ASSISTANCE FUND: http://iwpr.net/sahar
BECOME A FAN OF IWPR ON FACEBOOK
FOLLOW US ON TWITTER
REPORTING CENTRAL ASIA RSS: http://www.iwpr.net/en/rca/rss.xml
RECEIVE FROM IWPR: Readers are urged to subscribe to IWPR's full range of free
electronic publications at: http://iwpr.net/subscribe
GIVE TO IWPR: IWPR is wholly dependent upon grants and donations. For more
information about how you can support IWPR go to: http://iwpr.net/donate
UZBEKISTAN: ALARM AT RISE IN CANCER CASES
Medical staff complain of shortage of specialist care, medicines and hospital
By Bakhtior Rasulov in Tashkent
Doctors in Uzbekistan say cancer treatment facilities are failing, with poor
provision for early diagnosis, inadequate hospital facilities, and medicines
that are unobtainable in the state healthcare system and unaffordable on the
The warnings come at a time when a leaked internal report says the incidence of
cancer is rising dramatically in this Central Asian state.
The report, based on a study conducted last year, showed a leap in the number
of people with cancer in the first half of 2009, 17.9 per cent more than in
the same period of 2008. Over the five years from 2003 to 2008, the incidence
of cancer increased from around 14 cases to 25 per 100,000 of the population.
The study drew comparisons with other countries around the world, where it said
the annual growth rate ranged between six and 8.5 per cent.
The Uzbek health ministry says that in 2009, there were 90,000 people with
cancer, about a third of one per cent of the population.
The internal report was based on data collected by doctors from all over
Uzbekistan. The highest rates of cancer were discovered in Fergana, Bukhara and
Khorezm lies close to the Aral Sea, which has dried up over several decades,
causing harmful dust in the air and other environmental problems. The study
made a link between the Aral disaster and cancer rates, although it did not
place the seas location Karakalpakstan among the regions with the highest
incidence, while Fergana, one of the top three, is a long way away from the sea.
A more general cause was, said the report, the use of harmful pesticides on
cotton plantations, where much of the work is done by hand by adults and often
A number of experts expressed concern that almost nothing was being done to
prevent cancer or detect the early signs among children, young women, and
people who work with chemicals or other hazardous materials.
Uzbekistans state health system appears to be in no shape to cope with such a
high, and rising, incidence of the disease
One cancer specialist in the capital Tashkent, who was involved in the study,
summed up what he saw as the main problems, a lack of highly-trained experts
and inadequate state funding for cancer centres.
Nationwide, this doctor said, There are only 1,104 beds for cancer patients.
People have to wait their turn for months on end.
According to a haematologist also from Tashkent, The majority of cancer
sufferers are admitted in the final stages of the disease. They cannot be
treated, and were simply forced to watch them die.
A doctor involved in gathering data for the report said Uzbekistan should have
at 30 large cancer clinics instead of the current 19, and also hospices where
the terminally ill could receive qualified care.
In addition to the inadequate number of specialised medical centres, many forms
of treatment are in short supply. A health ministry adviser said the lack of
radiotherapy and other treatment was causing a lot of deaths.
The cost of medicines used to treat cancer or alleviate the symptoms is a focus
of many complaints.
The Tashkent cancer specialist said the health ministry had refused a request
to buy in 1,000 bottles of an advanced drug known as MabThera to be dispensed
by state doctors.
At 6,000 US dollars a bottle on the open market, the drug was beyond the reach
of people who might considering buying it themselves, since the average wage in
Uzbekistan is between 70 and 80 dollars a month.
Doctors say that the combined treatment including modern chemotherapy and new
drugs helps one recover, said a 39-year-old woman who has stomach cancer. But
such drugs arent available here and I dont have money to buy them abroad.
Officials say the problems are exaggerated. Bakhtior Niozmatov, first deputy
prime minister of Uzbekistan and the countrys chief doctor insists that state
funding is adequate and the system is getting better all the time, with drugs
and treatment methods available.
Every year, several million soms [upwards of one million US dollars] is
allocated to purchase of drugs for those who need cancer treatment, he said.
A wide-ranging programme is under way to prevent serious diseases, including
cancers. Last year a haematological stem cell transfer centre opened
become much easier to treat serious forms of leukaemia.
That will be little consolation to one woman, who told how she had brought her
son to Tashkent the hundreds of kilometres from Navoi to Tashkent in hope he
would get better treatment.
For the last six months, we havent been able to get the medicines we need
even though we have an official prescription from the cancer centre, she said.
They say there arent any drugs. But the drugs they do have get divided up
among those whore able to pay over the odds, and they dont have to wait in
Our 27-year-old son is simply melting away before our eyes, and theres
nothing we can do to save him.
Bakhtior Rasulov is the pseudonym of a journalist in Uzbekistan.
KYRGYZ REWRITE LEADERSHIP SUCCESSION RULES
Parliament devises compromise to ease passage of constitutional amendments.
Pavel Dyatlenko in Bishkek
Kyrgyzstans parliament has been forced to rethink plans to change the rules on
who steps in if the head of state cannot continue in office.
Deputies were forced to reconsider the reform, which was proposed by President
Kurmanbek Bakiev, after the countrys constitutional court rejected it on a
At the moment, should the president step down unexpectedly, for example due to
illness, the constitution says the speaker of parliament can fill in as head of
state until an election is held. If for some reason the speaker cannot do it,
the prime minister is next in line.
President Bakiev wanted to change this to a system where the choice of interim
replacement would fall to the Presidential Institution, a new administrative
structure which he unveiled late last year, but which has yet to come into
Doing so would have reduced the certainty that the temporary president was in
some way a representative of the public, like the speaker or prime minister,
since the Presidential Institution made up of non-elected executives might
make some other choice.
The bill, which consists of a package of changes to the constitution to bring
it into line with governance reforms announced by the president last October.
Tasked with checking the legality of the amendments, the constitutional court
ruled on the emergency appointment issue on January 21, rejecting it on the
grounds that the Presidential Institution is an advisory rather than a
decision-making body, and consequently lacks the authority to pick a temporary
head of state.
Court chairwoman Svetlana Sydykova said this provision needed revision, and
sent the bill back to parliament.
This created a dilemma for a legislature that is dominated by the presidents
party Ak Jol, as members now had to get their leaders reform package through
while at the same time accommodating the courts objections.
Ak Jol members came up with a new arrangement designed to kill both birds with
one stone. The parliamentary committee tasked with redrafting the bill produced
a proposal to that would, as Bakiev wants, abolish the automatic delegation of
power to the speaker or premier. Instead, a new entity called the State Council
will be set up, and it will be its job to appoint an interim president.
The details have yet to be worked out, and separate legislation will be needed
to constitute the new body.
It is known, though, that the State Council will include the prime minister,
the speaker as well as members of the Presidential Institution. In remarks made
on February 2, opposition parliamentarian Roza Otunbaeva indicated that the
latter were likely to include the head of the presidents office, his
communications chief, the State Adviser for Defence, Security and Law and Order
and the director of the Central Agency for Development, Investment and
Innovation. These last two posts were created as part of Bakievs governance
reforms and give the Presidential Institution strategic oversight of security
and economic policy and planning.
Placing such an important decision in the hands of a narrow group of unelected
officials would be a major change to the constitutional system.
The Presidential Institution includes some elected officials like the president
himself, who acts as its chairman, and the speaker of parliament. The cabinet
is represented by the prime minister and foreign minister, but the rest of the
Presidential Institutions members are directly appointed by the head of state.
The net result is to place more power in the presidents hands at the expense
of the prime minister and his cabinet. Under his control, the Presidential
Institution has wide-ranging powers, including some that previously belonged to
the government, for example foreign policy and control over security and
In turbulent times, it is important to have clear legal procedures in place for
the transfer of power, so that this happens promptly and effectively. The
current system, where the leadership role temporarily goes to one of two
officials, is simple and logical and has stood the test of time.
It was put to the test during the Tulip Revolution of March 2005, when
mounting popular unrest put an end to the rule of the then president Askar
Akaev. He left the country, his prime minister resigned, and Kyrgyzstan seemed
to be facing a parliamentary vacuum as the old legislatures mandate was
expiring and the new one had yet to form.
At that critical moment, the speaker of the old parliament was able to step in
as head of state for less than 24 hours and facilitate the appointment of a
prime minister. The latter post went to Bakiev, who ex officio assumed the role
of interim president until he was elected to the job in July 2005.
This experience, of a system that worked under stress, is one that should be
remembered when the terms of the new constitutional arrangement are being
The next stage now is for President Bakiev to approve the proposed State
Council, after which the entire package of changes can be put to a vote in
parliament. Once that happens, the bill will get its second hearing in three
months time, after which it could become law.
Pavel Dyatlenko is an expert at the Polis Asia Centre, a think-tank in Bishkek.
KYRGYZSTAN: CONCERN OVER JOURNALISTS SAFETY
Violent attacks prompt media community to act.
By Asyl Osmonalieva in Bishkek
A wave of brutal attacks on Kyrgyz journalists has sparked alarm among
journalists and local and international media watchdogs
Media representatives have also expressed concern about what they say is the
Kyrgyz authorities failure to investigate crimes against journalists and to
bring those responsible to account.
According to the Association of Journalists in Kyrgyzstan, at least 58
journalists from Kyrgyzstan have been attacked over the last four years.
The Kyrgyz interior ministry, meanwhile, says that between 2005 and 2009, there
were 28 reported cases of attacks on journalists, 23 of which led to criminal
cases. In the other five cases it was decided not to prosecute.
The latest attack on a journalist from Kyrgyzstan involved Gennady Pavlyuk, who
died in hospital on December 22 after he was thrown out of a tall building with
his hands tied behind his back.
Pavlyuk was on a visit to Almaty, the financial capital of neighbouring
Kazakstan. Kazak police said they were treating the case as murder.
The Kazak TV station KTK has reported that the officers from the Kyrgyz
National Security Service had a meeting with Pavlyuk in the Almaty apartment in
Almaty from which later he fell to his death. The press office of the Kyrgyz
security service denied the allegations, dismissing them as disinformation.
Pavlyuks supporters and campaigners have linked his death to his work in
Kyrgyzstan, where he was setting up a website.
The leader of opposition party Ata-Meken, Omurbek Tekebaev, told Radio Free
Europe/Radio Liberty that he and Pavlyuk had met shortly before the latters
death to discuss plans for the website project.
Tekebaev insisted that atameken.kg was to be an independent website, not an
official party mouthpiece as some media have reported, the RFE/RL website said.
"I think this is a politically motivated crime," he was quoted as saying. "It's
yet another attack in order to restrict freedom of speech in Kyrgyzstan."
Tekebaev also said Pavlyuk had recently published several articles and
interviews in which he criticised the Kyrgyz authorities, explaining the real
meaning of their newly initiated reforms".
Akmat Alagushev from the Media Representative Institute in Kyrgyzstan, a
non-government group, said the countrys law-enforcement agencies needed to
solve crimes involving attacks on journalists.
Freedom of expression in this country will depend on how crimes are
investigated and how those responsible are punished, he said, adding that
impunity would hinder any improvement in journalists safety.
The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based watchdog group, has
taken up the Pavlyuk case. Its Europe and Central Asia programme coordinator,
Nina Ognianova, said in a statement, This investigation will not succeed
without bilateral cooperation. We call on Kazak investigators to coordinate
efforts with their Kyrgyz counterparts, and we urge the government of
Kyrgyzstan to assist to the fullest extent.
Asked to comment on the number of attacks on Kyrgyz journalists, presidential
spokesman Ilim Karypbekov told IWPR the authorities support freedom of
We are building a state on principles of democracy and freedom of expression,
he said. We have an interest in seeing that the safety of journalists is
assured and that all attacks on representatives of the media are resolved.
Karypbekov said all attacks on journalists were being dealt with by law
enforcement agencies, and the presidents communications department was
watching how this was being handled.
We try to inform the public about the progress of investigations and, at the
same time, we urge all interested parties to join efforts to solve the
problem, he said. We await a response from the media community and we are
hoping above all for constructive proposals and solutions, instead of
accusations directed at the authorities.
The death of Pavlyuk was the third incident involving journalists working in
Kyrgyzstan in December alone.
Alexander Yevgrafov, a correspondent for Russia's Rosbalt news agency in
Bishkek, was beaten up in the Kyrgyz capital earlier in the month.
Days later, an envelope carrying a threatening message and a bullet casing from
a Kalashnikov was sent to the Osh Shami newspaper in the southern Kyrgyz city
Others have been murdered. Freelance journalists Alisher Saipov and Almaz
Tashiev were killed in 2007 and 2009, respectively.
Saipov, a prominent journalist working in Osh, was shot dead in the street by
an unidentified gunman. An ethnic Uzbek, he was the founder of an
Uzbek-language newspaper called Siyosat known for its critical coverage of
human rights in neighbouring Uzbekistan.
Tashiev, a freelance journalist who worked for a number of news organisations
including the Kyrgyz-language newspaper Agym, was beaten by a group of
policemen when he went to a police station to obtain a new passport.
No one was brought to justice for these murders.
Other recent attacks include those on Syrgak Abdyldaev, a correspondent for the
Reporter newspaper, the victim of a multiple stabbing in March 2009; Kayrat
Birimkulov, a reporter for the state broadcaster, who was assaulted; NBT
television journalist Gulmira Umetalieva, who was injured and had her camera
broken; and political commentator Alexander Knyazev, who was mugged and had his
notebook and money stolen.
At least six journalists have left the country since 2005 to seek political
asylum abroad because they feared for their lives.
According to the head of the Association of Journalists, Marat Tokoev, the most
worrying trend is the brutal character of the attacks.
I cant say that the number of attacks is on the increase but what is
definitely changing is the manner in which they are done... Attacks are
becoming more brutal and cynical, and as a result journalists end up in
hospital or even die, he said.
Tokoev said that his organisation was working with experts from the
Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE, and with lawyers,
police and journalists to uncover the real number of attacks and find out
whether they were connected to the victims work.
The situation prompted the OSCE centre in Bishkek to make journalists safety
one of its priorities for 2010.
In an interview with IWPR, Lilian Darii, deputy head of the OSCE centre in
Bishkek, said the organisation aims to contribute to an environment in which
journalists can perform their crucial work responsibly and safely, without fear
of reprisal or intimidation.
She said the OSCE mission planned to provide legal assistance to journalists
and to support public debate on the issue.
The OSCE therefore renews its calls on the Kyrgyz government to address the
current situation, which the OSCE representative for the media has described as
a crisis, said Darii.
Tokoev welcomed the OSCE statement making the safety of journalists a priority,
but said the problem could only be solved if all the parties involved joined
Whats needed to withstand the pressure and the threat to journalists is to
unite and work together, he said.
Asyl Osmonalieva is an IWPR-trained journalist in Kyrgyzstan.
This article was produced under IWPRs Building Central Asian Human Rights
Protection & Education Through the Media programme, funded by the European
Commission. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR
and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.
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 UK Community Fund. The
service is published online in English and Russian.
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 and Acting Central Asia Director: John MacLeod; Central
Asia Editor: Saule Mukhametrakhimova.
IWPR PROJECT DEVELOPMENT AND SUPPORT: Executive Director: Anthony Borden; Head
of Programmes: Niall MacKay
IWPR is an international network of four organisations which are governed by
boards of senior journalists, peace-building experts, regional specialists and
IWPR builds democracy at the frontlines of conflict and change through the
power of professional journalism. IWPR programmes 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.
IWPR - Africa, P.O. Box 3317, Johannesburg 2121
Tel: +2 711 268 6077
IWPR - Europe, 48 Grays Inn Road, London WC1X 8LT, UK
Tel: +44 20 7831 1030
IWPR United States, 1325 G Street, NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005,
Tel: +1 202 449 7717
1515 Broadway, 11th Floor, New York, New York 10036, United States
Tel: +1 212 520 3950
Stichting IWPR Nederland, Eisenhowerlaan 77 K, 2517 KK Den Haag, The Netherlands
Tel: +31 70 338 9016
For further details on this project and other information services and media
programmes, go to: www.iwpr.net
ISSN: 1477-7924 Copyright © 2009 The Institute for War & Peace Reporting
If you wish to change your subscription details or unsubscribe please go to:
This electronic mail message and any attached files are intended solely for the
named recipients and may contain confidential and proprietary business
information of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR) and its
affiliates. If you are not the named addressee, you should not disseminate,
distribute or copy this e-mail.
Institute for War & Peace Reporting. 48 Gray's Inn Road, London WC1X 8LT, UK.
Registered with charitable status in the United Kingdom (charity reg. no:
1027201, company reg. no: 2744185); the United States under IRS Section
501(c)(3); The Netherlands as a charitable foundation; and South Africa under