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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09BISHKEK68 2009-01-23 06:40:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Bishkek
Cable title:  

Kyrgyz Media Reaction to CENTCOM CDR Petraeus's Visit

Tags:   PREL PGOV KPAO KG 
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ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 230640Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY BISHKEK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1682
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 2815
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE 0091
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHDC
RUMICEA/USCENTCOM INTEL CEN MACDILL AFB FL
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 3210
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2596
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO BRUSSELS BE
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BISHKEK 000068 

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR SCA/CEN AND SCA/PPD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KPAO KG
SUBJECT: Kyrgyz Media Reaction to CENTCOM CDR Petraeus's Visit

BISHKEK 00000068 001.2 OF 002


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.



1. (SBU) Summary: General Petraeus's January 17-20 visit to
Kyrgyzstan has been front-page news this week. Media reaction to
the General's visit and his January 19 press conference has been
closely intertwined with rumors in the press that the Government of
Kyrgyzstan plans to expel Manas Air Base. Some newspapers put a
familiar, negative spin on Petraeus's visit, saying that he came to
Kyrgyzstan only to save Manas Air Base and listing past incidents
involving the Base. Some agreed with General Petraeus's
characterization that the rumors in the press about the Kyrgyz
Government possibly requesting the Base to be withdrawn may be
"Central Asian Negotation." Two major newspapers made arguments
supporting the Base and praising the Base's role in the war on
terrorism. End Summary.

SAME OLD ANTI-BASE ARGUMENTS


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





2. (SBU) Independent Russian-language weekly "Megapolis" wrote an
article entitled "We Can't Get Rid of Them." The article accuses
General Petraeus of unilaterally declaring that the Base will stay
here "because I said so." The article says the purpose of the Base
is "to expand the U.S. sphere of influence and empire." The article
includes a list of incidents involving the Base, such as an incident
in which American serviceman hit two women with his car in 2002,
alleged rapes (Comment: this is the first time the Embassy has heard
of the rape allegations), the 2006 incident involving the
disappearance of an Air Force Major, and the 2006 shooting of a
Kyrgyz citizen by a U.S. airman.

"CENTRAL ASIAN NEGOTIATION"


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





3. (SBU) Independent, pseudo-intellectual Russian-language weekly
"Obshestvenniy Rating" reprinted an article from the Russian press,
quoting a specialist from the Central Asian and Kazakhstan Institute
in Russia, Andrey Grozin. Grozin agrees with General Petraeus's
characterization that there is some Central Asian-style negotiating
taking place around Manas Air Base. Grozin says, "Practically every
year Kyrgyzstan is able to get more money for the Air Base. Under
Akayev, the Kyrgyz got the modest sum of less than 10 million
dollars but now, according to official reports, the Americans pay 51
million dollars every year plus grants in different areas, including
humanitarian assistance. In total, the Base provides benefits to
the Kyrgyz Republic to the tune of 100 million dollars or more."
Further, he says that the U.S. "buys off" Kyrgyz officials, "not
with suitcases of money, but with technical assistance, training,
and trips." He concludes that the Kyrgyz Republic is neither
"anti-Russian nor anti-American," but rather opportunistic in taking
advantage of both Russian and American assistance. Another
independent commentator in the same newspaper wrote that he
disagreed with the characterization that these negotiations are
"Central Asian methods of negotiation." Instead, he characterized
the negotiations as "classic diplomacy."

BAKIYEV GIVING HIMSELF PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY


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





4. (SBU) Pro-Russian "Delo Nomer" wrote that whenever talk turns to
expelling the Base, a high-ranking American comes to Bishkek on a
"long-planned" visit. The author asks, "If it is not true that the
Kyrgyz Government wants to close Manas Air Base, why are we not
hearing it from the Kyrgyz Government? Who is the boss of our
country [if they send an American to give us this news]?" The
article notes that President Bakiyev, unlike the presidents of
Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, preferred not to meet with General
Petraeus. The article speculates that President Bakiyev wanted to
give himself "room to maneuver" so he could tell the Russians "I
didn't promise anyone anything." Noting that President Bakiyev's
trip to Moscow, originally planned for January 16, was pushed back
to February, the author implies that the presidential administration
may still be preparing documents to expel the Base: "The President's
administration says the reason for the trip being postponed is that

BISHKEK 00000068 002.2 OF 002


they need to 'prepare some documents.'"

"BASE PLAYS AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN WAR ON TERROR"


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

--



5. (SBU) The local supplement to the Russian newspaper
"Komsomolskaya Pravda" speculated that President Bakiyev's former
Chief-of-Staff, Medet Sadyrkulov, resigned because he was unwilling
to expel Manas Air Base. However, the author says that the
President can easily find a "careerist" who would be willing to sign
the papers to expel the Base. The article lists past, negative
incidents involving the Base, but says, "It's important to remember,
though, that Manas, without exaggeration, plays an important role in
the worldwide war against terrorism. Of course, it's a pity that
individual scoundrels in stripes ruin the general presentation of a
noble and complicated mission. But in the end, we have a common
enemy. Remember the bloody events eight years ago involving
extremists in the south of our country. This happened, in fact,
when the Taliban in Afghanistan were at their strongest. Do you
really want the Taliban to return to power? We can't forget that
eighty percent of the international coalition's efforts in
Afghanistan have been concentrated on humanitarian and social
programs: building hospitals, schools, power stations, roads, and
creating jobs, etc. In other words, the soldiers there are busier
restoring peaceful life -- not war. And who knows, maybe
strengthening their contingent by 30,000 troops will finally, and
forever, defeat extremists. And then there can be talks about
closing Manas Air Base." ( Comment: The author, Azamat Tynaev,
participated in a week-long media embed in Afghanistan in June 2008,
which was arranged by the public affairs sections of Manas Air Base
and the Embassy.)

"MANAS IS IN EVERYONE'S INTEREST"


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





6. (SBU) The largest daily newspaper, independent Russian-language
"Vecherniy Bishkek" published an article with the headline, "Neither
Kyrgyzstan nor Russia would benefit from Manas Air Base Withdrawal."
The article provides background about the Base and situation in
Afghanistan, and says: "The American Base at Manas was created
owing to Vladimir Putin's mediation between Washington and Bishkek.
[This was revealed a long time ago by then Russian Defense Minister
and current Deputy Chief of the Russian Government, Sergey Ivanov.]
It would be good to remind those who keep stirring up odd excitement
and saying that the Base is a stumbling block between the Kremlin
and the White House. And that, reportedly, capricious Kyrgyzstan is
now thinking which superpower to drop the handkerchief to and for
how much. Amid the rumors about the impending withdrawal of the
contingent harped on by Russian media, the most paradoxical thing is
that Moscow should be the first one to be interested in keeping the
Pentagon outpost on our territory. [. . . ] So, be sure, nobody
would even think of closing the Base, especially having the
information provided by General Petraeus. He said that last year,
the number of terrorist attacks doubled. There is nothing left but
to dispose with them with doubled force."

WACKY THEORIES PERSIST


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





7. (SBU) Anti-American Russian-language daily, "Beliy Parus," a
newspaper which is known for its wacky theories, speculated that the
talk about Manas Air Base was really just a smokescreen to distract
from how the Kyrgyz Government plans to pilfer the proffered $2
billion loan from Russia. Another "Beliy Parus" theory is that
Manas Air Base is beneficial to Russia because the U.S. uses Manas
to transport opium directly to Western Europe, bypassing Russian
soil. Finally, they theorize that if the Kyrgyz Republic expels the
Base, the U.S. will "be deeply offended and will never forgive us."
"The U.S. will become active -- even super active -- in financing
the opposition." They even hinted that the U.S. may even support an
Islamic uprising in Kyrgyzstan.

GFOELLER