Bakiev–The Base & The Protest

by Nathan Hamm on 4/28/2006 · 2 comments

Kurmanbek Bakiev either has a failing memory, or he is a liar.

”As for the United States airbase at the Manas airport, I talked that it is necessary to accelerate consideration of our proposals. I think that the American side delayed this issue, as 9 months passed since we submitted our proposals. This is why I had to fix the due date – June 1, 2006, when the United States will solve this issue and put a dot, if we, of course, agree with that,” said the President.

Yes. The problems with the negotiations have been due to nothing more than a long string of American delays. Bakiev has been less than consistent on what he wants for the base. He said $50 million a month after he said $200 million was the non-negotiable price, the price to which he has now returned.

The attitude of the US seems to be that the higher figure Bakiev is throwing out there is a sum grabbed out of thin air. AKIpress reported yesterday that the Pentagon confirmed on Wednesday in Congressional hearings that negotiations should be finished soon and that the US is committed to paying more for Manas. (AKIpress is acting up right now and I have lost the link. A reference to higher payments is not in James MacDougall’s testimony, but the report suggested it was in follow up questioning.)

Meanwhile, Bakiev is making threats regarding tomorrow’s planned protests.

“Those who are leading [rally preparations] — [Omurbek] Tekebaev, [Kubatbek] Baibolov, [Temirbek] Sariev, and [Melis] Eshimkanov — may be held responsible if there is a big conflict,” Bakiev said. “We are saying to those who claim there has been no dialogue [between the Kyrgyz government and the opposition]: What else was there besides dialogue a few days ago?”

“This [warning] shows that the president does not know our laws, he does not know about his direct duties,” Tekebaev said. “The president is the guarantor of citizens’ rights. It is written in our laws that the government provides security at rallies in order to ensure citizens’ rights. [The authorities] are threatening that rally organizers might be held responsible for possible lootings in the city. First and foremost, the president and the government [and] the heads of law-enforcement forces have to be responsible for [security].”

Other officials quoted in the story sound a bit cooler than Bakiev. Perhaps they don’t feel their jobs are potentially on the line. Prime Minister Kulov is also taking a different tone.

“[The rally] will be held in a normal, democratic way,” Kulov said. “No matter what demands they make, I think it’s a good sign. If it takes place in a normal way — which I’m sure it will — it will prove the maturity of our civil society.”

Meanwhile, there are rumors that Bakiev has created a new special forces unit under the direction of his son that seems tailor-made for breaking up protests.

The new unit comprises servicemen from special forces of various security structures – career officers and policemen from special assignment units with extensive experience of combating terrorists and suchlike. Some sources indicate that the unit ran its first drill earlier today. Its servicemen were issued smooth-bore light weapons with resin bullets and noise-generating grenades.

AKIpress also has a story (that I can’t access because their site is acting up) in which the former minister for trade, tourism, and industry Almazbek Atambaev says Bakiev has become Akaev. I disagree. Akaev struck me as more competent.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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Brian April 28, 2006 at 6:57 pm

I’m beginning to like Tekebaev more and more. After the incredibly unstatesmanlike comment that “Bakiev is a dog that should be shot”, he has been quoted making some rather welcoming quotes. He seems to at least be aware of the fact that the revolution last march meant that the Kyrgyz people want serious, substantial change now. Can’t say the same thing about Bakiev.

Although, like any politician anywhere, I’m sure self-interests are also in mind.

Matt May 3, 2006 at 8:47 am

Agreed, Bakiyev is useless. As I have mentioned on my own page in the past – Bakiyev seems to think that he CAN rule in the same manner as Akayev. Brian is quite right in saying the desires of Kyrgyzstan’s people now lie with Democracy. They just aren’t going to take any sh*t off a wannabe dictator.

Besides if Bakiyev was serious about ruling in such a manner he would have started working towards accelerating economic growth or crushing crime. The very fact that he can’t get on top of the criminal underworld makes me; doubt the seriousness of these ‘special forces’, realise that he is a poor man’s Rakhmon Nabiyev. And that’s saying something.

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