Central Asia Monitor 1.25

by Central Asia Monitor on 12/20/2012

Kyrgyzgas to Press Kazakhstan on Energy Shortage…

Abdymazhit Mamatisaev, Deputy Chairman of Kyrgyzgas, said on 18 December that KazTransGas, the Kazakh company supplying natural gas to Kyrgyzstan, would face legal and financial claims over the recent restriction of gas supplies that have resulted in shortages in and around Bishkek. Mamatisaev gave no further details. However, a day earlier, the Deputy General Director of Kyrgyzgaz Kuralbek Naskeev said that it is difficult for Kyrgyzstan to take too strong a position with KazTransGas when the Kyrgyz side has significant outstanding debts for natural gas deliveries. KazTransGas said that the shortage is a result of a drop in Uzbek natural gas export due to cold weather. (18 December TengriNews)

…and Gets Offered Gazprom for a Bargain

On 20 December, Naskeev said that Russia’s Gazprom had been offered a 75% stake in Kyrgyzgas for $1 to help Kyrgyzstan settle its debts to suppliers and to cut its reliance on gas imports. Kyrgyzgas has debts totaling $38 million and does not currently produce any natural gas domestically. The deal with the Russian energy giant would allow Gazprom to start developing the Mailuu-Suu-IV and Kugart gas deposits in southern Kyrgyzstan, allowing Kyrgyzgas to meet domestic natural gas demands. (20 December RIA Novosti)

Restrictions on Sulaiman-Too Access Suggested

Kyrgyzstani media report that a roundtable in Osh called for action to protect the Suleiman-Too cultural and historical site. The roundtable, which included employees of the site’s museum, expressed concern over damage to the historical inscriptions, public drunkenness, and illegal construction of shopping and entertainment facilities at the base of the mountain. Members of the roundtable suggested limiting visits to the site, barring vehicles from Suleiman-Too, and increasing police patrols. (18 December KGInform)

Talas Elders Protest Local Mining Activities

Elders who traveled from Talas to Bishkek held a press conference complaining that Vertex Gold, a mining company working in the Zhamgyr and Chaarat gold fields, is damaging the health of locals. While other protests over the health effects of mining have focused on environmental damage, the elders complained specifically that exporting the ore for processing in Kazakhstan means that residents are exposed to unnecessary emissions and dust from KAMAZ trucks. They say that the ore should be processed locally, especially after it was recently revealed that Vertex Gold is Kyrgyz-, not Kazakh-, owned. Former Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov is rumored to be connected to Vertex Gold. (18 December plot via Gezitter)

Tashkent Cafes and Restaurants Ordered to Close on New Year’s Eve

According to Uzmetronom, hokims of district administrations in Tashkent informed restaurant and cafe owners last week that they are to shut down on 31 December. Restaurant owners who object were reportedly told that their liquor licenses could be revoke. The government earlier banned the broadcast of New Year’s programs including Father Frost, Snow Maiden, and other Russian folk characters. (18 December CA-News)

Uzbekistan Protests Kyrgyz Border Post in Batken

Uzbekistan has complained about Kyrgyzstan starting construction of a 19 kilometer border fence in the Burgondu valley in Batken province. Uzbekistan extracts oil and gas in the area, but Kyrgyzstan says that all historical documents clearly detail that the entire area, including resource deposits, belong to it. During earlier negotiations, Uzbekistan agreed that all but a small portion of the territory belongs to Kyrgyzstan, but after 2010 Tashkent sought to renegotiate agreements the two sides had already reached. Uzbekistan claims that no construction can be done in the disputed territory. (18 December Azattyk unalgysy via Gezitter)

Uzbekistan Carries on Without Electricity and Gas

Regional media outlet CA-News reported this week that shortages of natural gas and electricity are severe and widespread throughout Uzbekistan this winter. While officials in Tashkent have made a show of quickly addressing outages in the capital, residents elsewhere have been told that relief is not coming. Mahalla committees reportedly told residents in autumn to stock up on coal because there would be no natural gas. The report says that 90% of the population outside of Tashkent is without natural gas, and that electricity is limited to several hours per day, especially in rural areas. The state electricity company, Uzbekenergo, claims that it is producing enough electricity to meet demand. (18 December CA-News)

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