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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06BISHKEK460
2006-04-06 14:05:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bishkek
Cable title:  

AMBASSADOR'S TRIP, STATEMENT TOUCH A RAW NERVE

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  KG 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BISHKEK 000460 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/06/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV KG
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR'S TRIP, STATEMENT TOUCH A RAW NERVE

REF: BISHKEK 343

Classified By: Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)



1. (C) SUMMARY: During an April 6 meeting with Ambassador
Yovanovitch, a clearly uncomfortable Deputy Foreign Minister
Kadyrbek Sarbaev said that Foreign Minister Jekshenkulov had
asked him to express concern over the "deep resonance" left
by the Ambassador's recent trip to southern Kyrgyzstan. In
particular, Sarbaev expressed concern over a meeting held by
the Ambassador with ethnic Uzbek representatives in the city
of Jalalabad in March. Sarbaev claimed that according to
"unconfirmed information," participants in one meeting had
harshly criticized the government and that the Ambassador
"had perhaps" stated her agreement with this criticism.
Sarbaev also took issue with portions of the public statement
issued by the Ambassador on the one-year anniversary of last
year's "Tulip Revolution." END SUMMARY.

CONCERNS OVER "DEEP RESONANCE" OF TRIP TO SOUTH


--------------------------

--



2. (C) On the morning of April 6, the MFA requested an
"urgent meeting" with the Ambassador to discuss unspecified
"bilateral issues." Upon further digging, the MFA admitted
that it wanted to discuss the Ambassador's recent trip to
southern Kyrgyzstan. A clearly uncomfortable Deputy Minister
Sarbaev opened the meeting with a few routine questions about
the upcoming visit of SCA Assistant Secretary Boucher. After
a great deal of hemming and hawing, Sarbaev finally got to
the point ) Foreign Minister Jekshenkulov was concerned
about "the deep resonance" left by the Ambassador's recent
trip to the South.



3. (C) Sarbaev cited "unconfirmed information" that the
Ambassador "had perhaps agreed with or supported" criticism
of the Bakiyev government voiced by participants in a
roundtable discussion held at the Uzbek Cultural Center in
Jalalabad in late March. (COMMENT: The Uzbeks appeared to be
afraid to talk frankly until their leader arrived 30 minutes
late. At this point, participants began complaining about
poor economic conditions in the region and about broken
campaign promises by President Bakiyev ) as do virtually all
interlocutors in Kyrgyzstan. They also very gingerly
discussed inter-ethnic tensions and prejudice against Uzbeks.
END COMMENT). Sarbaev said that Islamic extremists and
others could "misuse the Ambassador's words" for their own
ends, and claimed that the Kyrgyz people "could get the wrong
impression" if they believe the Ambassador agrees with such
criticism.

CORRUPTION? WHAT CORRUPTION?


--------------------------





4. (C) Sarbaev then turned his attention to the Ambassador's
March 24 statement on the one-year anniversary of the
overthrow of the Akayev government. Wrapping his criticism

inside warm praise for certain parts of the statement,
Sarbaev said he disagreed with the portion of the statement
that read: "Around the country, people have painted a grim
picture for me," and citing rising inflation and problems
with corruption and organized crime. Sarbaev said he
disagreed with this characterization of the current
situation.



5. (C) The Ambassador pushed back by saying that,
"unfortunately, there are many unhappy people today in
Kyrgyzstan." Sarbaev agreed, but said this was because of
unrealistic expectations in the wake of last year's
revolution. Ambassador commented that it is important for
diplomats to be able to travel around the country and meet
with all types of people in order to understand what is
happening in the country. She noted that her message is the
same with all groups, and that the MFA has heard the message
many times.



6. (C) The Ambassador also expressed concern over the fact
that a representative of the National Security Service (SNB)

BISHKEK 00000460 002 OF 002


had tried to force his way into one of the roundtables with
the ethnic Uzbeks, adding that such tactics "remind her of
another time." Sarbaev claimed to know nothing about this,
saying only "that's a different agency."



7. (C) COMMENT: It was hard not to feel sorry for the genial
Sarbaev as he relayed Jekshenkulov's criticism, which Sarbaev
carefully wrapped in flowery praise and couched so indirectly
that at times it was hard to figure out what he was really
saying. Sarbaev got stuck with this meeting at the last
minute when the Deputy FM who had summoned the Ambassador was
called away on urgent business. Despite the hemming and
hawing, however, it was clear that the Ambassador's meetings
with ethic Uzbeks and then her March 24 statement clearly
touched a nerve, most likely not in the MFA but in the
Presidential Administration, which simply channeled its
displeasure through the MFA. Although interethnic relations
have always been a touchy subject, particularly in the south,
what really may have set off the Presidential Administration
was the presence of ethnic Uzbek parliamentarian Kadyrjan
Batyrov, a Bakiyev opponent, who helped to facilitate the
meetings and plays a prominent role among his district's
Uzbek community. There is also the possibility that the
Kyrgyz government overreacted to the roundtables due to
hypersensitivity to all things Uzbek in the run-up to the
one-year anniversary of the Andijon massacre, as well as the
severely strained state of Kyrgyz-Uzbek relations.



8. (C) Sarbaev's concerns over the March 24 statement left
the impression that the Kyrgyz government had gone over the
statement with a fine-toothed comb, dissecting the inner
meaning of each word and phrase. Clearly, our criticism of
rising crime and corruption are having at least some effect.
But not everyone was offended by the statement. Following
the meeting, Director of the Western Countries Division Kanat
Tursukulov (who also attended the meeting) told the
Ambassador that he had read the statement for the first time
just before today's meeting, and that he "agreed with every
word."



9. (C) We note that this is the second time the MFA has
criticized the Ambassador since February for meeting with
parliamentarians and other non-government officials (reftel).

YOVANOVITCH