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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07BISHKEK386
2007-04-09 13:58:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Bishkek
Cable title:  

KYRGYZ OPPOSITION DEMONSTRATIONS BEGIN; POSSIBLE

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  KG 
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P 091358Z APR 07
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BISHKEK 000386 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/09/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL KG
SUBJECT: KYRGYZ OPPOSITION DEMONSTRATIONS BEGIN; POSSIBLE
NEGOTIATIONS?

REF: A. BISHKEK 384

B. BISHKEK 284

BISHKEK 00000386 001.2 OF 003


Classified By: Amb. Marie L. Yovanovitch, Reason 1.4 (b) and (d).



1. (C) SUMMARY: Felix Kulov's United Front continues to move
forward with plans for an open-ended anti-government
demonstration in Bishkek starting on April 11. In several
northern regions of the country, smaller demonstrations were
staged on April 9, and in Bishkek, over 100 United Front
supporters continued their hunger strike in front of
parliament. Publicly, Kulov has said that the protests will
continue until President Bakiyev steps down and calls early
presidential elections; other United Front leaders have
indicated that any negotiations would require President
Bakiyev's direct involvement. We understand that the
government is considering a new draft constitution that, if
President Bakiyev agrees, could serve as the basis for direct
talks with the opposition as soon as April 10. Kulov has his
own suggestion for a way forward. However, supporters on
both sides continue to push for a hard line. END SUMMARY.

Demonstrations in the Regions


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





2. (SBU) As the opposition United Front moved forward with
plans for a "termless" protest rally in Bishkek starting
April 11, there were several smaller one-day rallies around
the country on April 9. For the most part, the rallies
occurred in the northern provinces, with no rallies reported
in the largely pro-Bakiyev southern oblasts of Osh or Batken,
and one rally reported in Jalalabad. There were no reports
of clashes or disturbances, and government officials
addressed some of the rallies. In Karakol, for example,
approximately 700 people gathered and set up yurts; Issyk Kul
oblast governor Isayev addressed the protesters and said he
was prepared to find ways to resolve outstanding issues. In
Naryn, around 200 protesters set up yurts in the central
square, but by the afternoon they were dismantling them and
preparing to head to Bishkek for the April 11 demonstration.
In Talas, where the protest also involves issues concerning
the Jerooy gold mine, over 1000 demonstrators have said they
will continue their action during the coming days.

Hunger Strike Continues


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





3. (SBU) Approximately 100 United Front supporters, including
MP Melis Eshimkanov, began a hunger strike in front of the
parliament building in Bishkek on April 5. The protesters
set up nine yurts, and the protest continued through the
weekend. At least five of the protesters claimed they were
ready to set themselves on fire to protest Bakiyev's
"unwillingness to implement constitution reforms." Both
Prime Minister Atambayev and United Front leader Kulov
visited briefly with the hunger strikers. The hunger

strikers will reportedly shift their protest to the central
Ala-Too Square when the main protest begins there on April 11.

Back to the November Constitution?


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





4. (C) Ambassador met April 9 with former Foreign Minister
Murat Imanaliyev and analyst Valentin Bogatyrev. Imanaliyev
and Bogatyrev thought there was still a chance that Bakiyev
and Kulov would reach a compromise -- or at least begin
negotiations -- before demonstrations began in Bishkek April


11. Bogatyrev had met with Kulov over the past weekend, and

BISHKEK 00000386 002.2 OF 003


said Kulov told him he was ready to talk to Bakiyev, but he
was waiting for an invitation from Bakiyev and some clarity
about what they would talk about. Bogatyrev said that,
despite the public rhetoric, Kulov now favored a way forward
that would possibly leave Bakiyev in place but shift all
authority for forming the government to the parliament, at
least in the near term. Under this scenario, the parliament
would repeal the law adopting the December version of the
constitution, bringing back the November version for an
extended transition period. According to the November
constitution, the parliament would choose the prime minister
and form the government; the president would have no role in
forming the government. The parliament would then be
pressured (or bought) to pick Kulov to run the government for
the transition period until a final new constitution was
adopted. Bogatyrev said that Kulov was ready to move forward
with this plan and present it to parliament on April 11 and
was confident of success.

Atambayev's Draft Constitution?


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





5. (C) On April 5, Prime Minister Atambayev formed an
11-member constitutional working group with both government
and opposition representatives. Headed by Atambayev, the
group includes MP Azimbek Beknazarov, former Foreign Minister
Roza Otunbayeva, MP Iskhak Masaliyev, and Director of the
Institute for Constitutional Policy Nurlan Sadikov.
Bogatyrev said that the group had already prepared a new
draft constitution, and -- if the president approves -- the
draft could serve as the basis for discussions with Kulov as
early as April 10. In addition, or alternatively, the draft
could go to parliament for consideration as soon as April 11.
(Note: The constitutional working group announced that it
will hold a press conference on April 10. End Note.)



6. (C) Bogatyrev said the spin masters at the White House
would today release film of the hunger strikers eating. On
April 10, the president will make a "harsh" statement about
the political situation. He stated that the only discussion
at the Kyrgyz White House was how harsh the statement should
be, and State Secretary Madumarov was instrumental in
ratcheting up the rhetoric. Imanaliyev expressed regret that
Bakiyev was incapable of compromise, as he sees it as a sign
of weakness. Both of our interlocutors agreed that Kulov and
Bakiyev are prisoners of their respective entourages, which
are urging both men to take a tough stand.


National Guard Not to Arm for Demonstrations; Bogatyrev
Believes Violence "Probable"


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

--



7. (C) On April 9, Ambassador also met National Guard
Commander Gen. Asanbeek Alymkojoyev to discuss the planned
opposition demonstrations in Bishkek April 11. She stressed,
as she has in all other meetings, that both sides should act
with restraint. She said that the actions of the protesters
and the government security forces should be constitutional,
lawful, and non-violent. Alymkojoyev said that the National
Guard (which is responsible for the grounds outside the
Kyrgyz White House) would act with restraint. He said that
the National Guard forces would not be armed; they would
carry only shields and rubber batons. Bogatyrev, on the
other hand, noted that there are small groups on both sides
that are arming themselves and ready for confrontation. He
said there would "probably" be bloodshed, although this was
most likely not the intent of either leader.

BISHKEK 00000386 003.2 OF 003



Comment


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





8. (C) While Imanaliyev and Bogatyrev outlined two possible
near-term scenarios that would lead to negotiations ahead of
the planned demonstration in Bishkek, they both expressed
concern that hardliners in each camp were pushing toward a
confrontation. They were somewhat dismissive of the efforts
of PM Atambayev, saying that he was protecting his own
interests and encouraging a hard-line approach. They also
said Bakiyev was using Atambayev as a political
counterbalance to Kulov, not as a genuine bridge to the
opposition. Discussion continues, and it is possible that a
draft constitution could serve as the basis for talks between
the president and the opposition, but several pieces would
have to fall in place quickly if the April 11 demonstration
is to be averted. It also looks likely that the parliament
may play a large role if Bakiyev and Kulov cannot work out an
agreement.
YOVANOVITCH