Friday, January 25, 2008

#166: Presidential Elections?

Here and there people are talking about possible Presidential elections. But, before the elections are held, it is expected that the Parliament, controlled by President's Ak Jol Party, will make changes to the Constitution (4th in 2 years!) and extend president's term in office from 5 to 7 years. Then elections can be held, possibly in summer.

The thinking is that why wait till 2010, when you can "win" today and remain president till 2015. And, it will be the first term. New constitution, new term! Then, the government can go ahead with privatization of big state companies: electricity, gas, heating, and telecommunications.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

#165: Ear and Finger

Crime has become a big issue in Kyrgyzstan. It is not just petty crime, but more like Italian mafia-style crime. It is everywhere, in business, in politics. Two South Korean businessman, involving in installing proper public transportation (buses), were beaten up and were told to leave the country. After the Soviet Union, our public transportation collapsed and was replaced by marshrutkas (Russian for vans), a horrible post-Soviet imitation of public transportation.

However, another a much bigger event, but less covered in the media, although widely talked about, is the delivery of an amputated ear and a finger to a very high government official. None of the Kyrgyz media named the official, but everyone is saying it is the President's Chief of Staff, Meder Sadyrkulov. There are all the reasons to believe it is true. According to the rumors, the ear and the finger removed from a bum, whose body was found outside Bishkek, were brought as a New Year present to Mr. Sadyrkulov's house.The incident signals disturbingly unhealthy and abnormal processes in the Kyrgyz politics (which then affects how business is done), especially when the gift was sent from within the President's closest entourage. Internal struggle within the President's team over influence was expected after everything came under President's control. Such methods of political intimidation have never been used in Kyrgyzstan before. A very unhealthy sign.

Friday, January 18, 2008

#164: Cynicism

Kyrgyzstan is now under total control of the President. He has a parliament, where his party, Ak Jol, has 79% of seats (election results have still not been published). He changed the prime minister and majority of the cabinet. He changed the governors. He even had the Chairman (Head Justice) of the Supreme Court removed by the Parliament (legality and constitutionality of the decision is questionable.) He had the Baibolovs, a very influential (and wealthy) family in the opposition camp, quit politics for good. The police is arresting young activists, who are posting "I Don't Believe" signs around town.

On the other hand, let him have it. Before, he blamed the parliament, the opposition, the tekebaevs for all the bad things happening. Now that he has full control of the executive, the legislature, and the judicial system, it is only him be be held responsible when trouble hits Kyrgyzstan.

And trouble is expected. Inflations is running high. Over the New Year break, for instance, minimum charge for a taxi ride went from 75KGS to 100KGS (33% increase). Kyrgyz Som seems to be having problems. If not a crash of Som, but a dip in its value is expected.

#163: Kyrgyz Punishment for Germans

After three weeks of hibernation, I start this year's blogging activity with a humorous, at least for me, article about an unruly 16-year old German boy, who was sent to Russia as his punishment.

"He has had to cope by collecting and chopping firewood to make his own fires, digging his own toilet and pumping water supplies from a well. He will stay there for nine months, separated from family and friends, the internet and television, under a programme designed specifically for him."

A joke in Russia (Life for Russians is a reality show for Germans) closely echoes this situation. What is more interesting, some of the delinquents have apparently been sent to as far as Kyrgyzstan. Life in Kyrgyzstan is a punishment for Germans!