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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06BISHKEK1451
2006-10-13 12:57:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bishkek
Cable title:  

STRAIGHT TALK FROM LOCAL KYRGYZ IN NARYN

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  PINR  ECON  ETRD  PHUM  KG 
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RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
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RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0324
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 2152
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1539
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO BRUSSELS BE
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP
RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BISHKEK 001451 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/13/2016
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR ECON ETRD PHUM KG
SUBJECT: STRAIGHT TALK FROM LOCAL KYRGYZ IN NARYN

BISHKEK 00001451 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: CDA Lee Litzenberger, Reason 1.4 (b) and (d).

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BISHKEK 001451

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/13/2016
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR ECON ETRD PHUM KG
SUBJECT: STRAIGHT TALK FROM LOCAL KYRGYZ IN NARYN

BISHKEK 00001451 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: CDA Lee Litzenberger, Reason 1.4 (b) and (d).


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: During an October 5-6 trip to the coldest
region in Kyrgyzstan, Country Desk Officer and Poloff met
with various NGO representatives and Naryn government
officials about the current state of the region's economy and
civil society. Local government officials were candid in
voicing their concerns about Naryn's lack of sustainability
and the current government structure, but offered differing
opinions on the city's "free trade zone." The NGO leaders
also listed a wide range of problems facing the citizens of
Naryn, but voiced considerable interest in the constitutional
reform process. END SUMMARY.


2. (SBU) The city of Naryn, located approximately five hours
by road south of Bishkek, is situated along a river of the
same name and engulfed by the Tien Shan mountain range. Both
government and NGO representatives agreed the population of
45,000, almost entirely ethnic Kyrgyz, benefited from a wide
range of USG assistance and technical support. This was
evident when visiting Country Desk Officer and Poloff toured
the USAID-funded PEAKS Project (Participation, Education and
Knowledge) in one local school and the Naryn Oblast Family
Medicine Center, where USAID-supported health reforms, which
included the establishment of Family Group Practice Clinics
(FGP) and the restructuring of the entire health delivery
system, vastly improved patient care and hospital efficiency.

CONTRADICTORY COMMENTS FROM LOCAL OFFICIALS
--------------


3. (C) Isabek Abdugaziev, the Naryn Oblast Deputy Governor,
echoed comments by other regional officials in speaking of
the need for decentralization of the government and
complained of the redundancy of operating under both an
oblast and rayon level structure, which would be easily

resolved by eliminating one layer. He also touted the
potential benefits of the "free trade zone" established in
Naryn, which offers tax exemption to foreigners willing to
produce goods for export. Abdugaziev claimed that over 50
companies representing fourteen different countries have been
registered, primarily in such small-scale areas as leather
and sugar cube production, but did not provide any examples
of specific facilities.


4. (C) Although initially touting the party line, the Deputy
Governor was more frank about Naryn's dependence on the tax
revenues and crop production from other parts of the country.
Abdugaziev spoke candidly about comments by other regional
officials that Naryn is "a pension oblast," living off of the
produce and incomes of the citizens in other oblasts. The
sparse population of Naryn endures 6-7 months of harsh winter
climate, preventing most fruits and vegetables from
flourishing. Most of the produce available in the markets is
shipped to Naryn from other parts of the country, thus
increasing the price.


5. (C) In a separate meeting, Deputy Mayor Chinara
Abdiraiymakunova spoke proudly of the eight city schools,
practices of the city parliament, the opening of the Aga Khan
University on the outskirts of the city, and recent
renovations to several main streets. However, when the
subject of the "free trade zone" arose, she scoffed at the
whole idea, arguing that it had no impact on the daily lives
of the people of Naryn. In clear contrast to comments made
by the Deputy Governor, Abdiraiymakunova claimed that the
"free trade zone" was a joke, as companies register in Naryn
for the tax benefits and then move to Bishkek without
supporting the community with jobs.

NGO REPS EVEN MORE CRITICAL, BUT HOPE FOR REFORM
-------------- --


6. (C) During a working lunch, Naryn-based NGO

BISHKEK 00001451 002.2 OF 002


representatives shared their thoughts on the many obstacles
facing the local population. With high levels of
unemployment, and bitterly cold winters, alcoholism has
become a widespread problem in Naryn. Domestic violence and
bridal kidnapping also persist in the community. Naryn
residents complain about the large noisy trucks traveling
through the center of town on their way to and from the
Torugart border crossing on the border with China. (Note:
Officers expected to see heavy traffic on the roads in and
around Naryn but witnessed almost none. End note.)
Corruption was also mentioned as being systemic throughout
the public and private sector, in particular in the courts.
One of the representatives explained that it "starts from the
children in school, who pay for their grades instead of
earning them, and continues all the way up to the government
officials," who get elected by bribing voters with money and
vodka. The group also reported crime was on the increase, in
particular among young people.


7. (C) The NGO representatives reported that local officials
recognize the important role the groups play in civil society
and provide opportunities for them to offer input. The real
glimmer of hope for all representatives was the possibility
of a reformed constitution that would protect the rights of
citizens and balance the various powers of the government.
They agreed that local residents were very aware of and
interested in the constitutional reform process, seeing a
direct connection between their own joblessness and the
inefficacy of the current government structure. They also
agreed that the public needed further education on the
process of reform and the substance of specific proposals.

COMMENT
--------------


8. (C) The various representatives of the Naryn community
made no attempt at hiding the difficulties of living in this
harsh, remote region. This was evident during meetings with
government officials, who touted the accomplishments of their
administrations but were also frank about the economic
situation. The local leaders of civil society provided a
laundry list of problems with few solutions, instead placing
their faith in the possible changing effects of a reformed
constitution. END COMMENT.

LITZENBERGER