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09BISHKEK888 2009-08-06 11:34:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Bishkek
Cable title:  

KYRGYZSTAN: ABUSE OF ADMINISTRATIVE RESOURCES IN

Tags:   PINT PGOV KG 
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1. (C) SUMMARY: In the run-up to the 2009 Presidential
elections, the government of Kyrgyzstan used all its
administrative resources to support President Bakiyev,s
campaign. The government leveraged its access to huge
funding, thousands of state employees, a potent media
machine, and wide-ranging facilities to promote the campaign
of the President and ensure his victory. In the end,
Bakiyev,s use of state resources gave him an advantage in
the election that the opposition was unable to overcome.
This is Part I of two cables analyzing the run-up to the July
2009 Presidential Election. Part II, focusing on the
pressure to vote on election day, will follow septel. END
SUMMARY

PROMOTE THE PRESIDENT, OR ELSE!


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





2. (C) The President's re-election campaign was the central
preoccupation for many government officials this year. The
Director of the State Agency on Sports and Youth Aleksandr
Voinov told EmbOff that "all ministers were instructed by the
White House to be as active and high profile as possible in
promoting the government before the election." Voinov, for
his part, organized many sporting events around the country
using government resources. These events, such as the
"President's Cup" for kickboxing, featured large posters of
the President and banners with slogans like: "Bakiyev is for
sports. Sports are for Bakiyev." The Ministry of Education
coordinated the timing of new school openings for Bakiyev to
attend in his campaign travels.



3. (C) The Ministry of Culture put on free concerts where the
President was praised by both government officials and
entertainers. Some performers claim to have been paid in
some cases, while others were promised different benefits or
simply threatened to perform. One singer told EmbOff that
she was approached jointly by the Bakiyev campaign and the
Ministry of Culture and asked to perform for the campaign.
In return, she was promised government honors, along with
better access to government facilities and media coverage in
the future. She was told that her ability to perform at the
major government-controlled concert halls would be restricted
if she performed for the opposition.



4. (C) Media coverage in government-owned or controlled
outlets, particularly on television, also focused on the
President's campaign and portrayed him in a positive light.
A reporter for the government-controlled Channel 5 said the
station's leadership was warned by Oksana Malevannaya, the
Chief of the Presidential Secretariat, that the channel's
license would be revoked if the elections did not go well for
Bakiyev. Scripts for the nightly news were sent directly
from the White House to be read without changes on air. The
White House also instructed Channel 5 to pool reporters and
editors with two other supposedly independent TV stations to
ensure there was a unified message on the news during the
elections. Reporters were also ordered to give random people
200 soms (approximately USD 5) to appear on camera and say
that they were voting for Bakiyev or were disappointed in the
opposition.



5. (C) Tynai Ibragimov, the artistic director of the main,
government-run KTR television channel, told EmbOff that he
was hired to make Bakiyev look better on the news and the
opposition candidates worse. He said that he was called
"absolutely every day" by the White House Presidential
Secretariat with feedback of how the President was shown on
the news. For example, Bakiyev should only be filmed from
the front, but opposition leaders should be shown often from
the back. Ibragimov said the White House organized televised

BISHKEK 00000888 002.2 OF 002


Kyrgyz language tests and debates for the President to appear
by himself or with one other candidate so his declining
health could not be compared to others. Ibragimov was
ordered to cut the live feed if any opposition candidate
criticized Bakiyev too much.



6. (C) University and school officials are traditionally
leaned on to support incumbent officials, but reported that
the pressure was especially heavy this year. President
Bakiyev signed an order transferring responsibility for the
appointment of university rectors from faculty vote to
himself. Three rectors confirmed that this makes them
accountable for the political needs of the President. The
rector of one large university said that he was called
regularly by Daniyar Usenov, the chief of the Presidential
Administration, with instructions on how to promote the
Presidential campaign and even specific names of faculty
members to fire who have not been supportive enough.



7. (C) A variety of other groups and instruments were
exploited to support the campaign. The government raised
pensions and salaries for its employees. It repainted many
roads, and opened new squares and parks. Bishkek city mayor
Nariman Tuleyev was particularly active in recent weeks, and
even sent a letter to Bishkek residents giving credit for the
new roads and parks to Bakiyev. Store and restaurant owners
complained on Internet blogs of being forced to hang Bakiyev
signs on their windows by campaign workers with the threat of
police and tax inspection visits if they refused.



8. (C) An official from Gazprom Neft, which has a dominant
share of the gasoline market in Kyrgyzstan, told EmbOff that
his company agreed with the White House to keep prices
artificially low until the election, at which point Gazprom
could raise them to recoup their losses and more. Opposition
candidates also complained of limited access to advertising
in the media and on billboards, while commercial billboards
and public spaces were blanketed with Bakiyev signs.
GFOELLER