The earliest descendents of the Kyrgyz people, who are believed to be of mixed Mongol, Turkic, and Kypchak descent, probably settled until the 10th century around what is now the Tyva region of the Russian Federation. With the rise of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century, the Kyrgyz migrated south. They did not emerge as a distinct ethnic group until the 15th century. Various Turkic peoples ruled them until 1685, when they came under the control of the Mongol Oirots. Islam is the predominant religion in the region, and most of the Kyrgyz are Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi school.
In the early 19th century, the southern territory of Kyrgyzstan came under the control of the Khanate of Kokand, and the territory was formally incorporated into the Russian Empire in 1876. The Russian takeover instigated numerous revolts against tsarist authority, and many of the Kyrgyz opted to move to the Pamirs and Afghanistan. In addition, the suppression of the 1916 rebellion in Central Asia caused many Kyrgyz to migrate to China.
Soviet power was initially established in the region in 1919, and the Kara-Kyrgyz Autonomous Oblast was created within the RFSR (the term Kara-Kyrgyz was used until the mid-1920s by the Russians to distinguish them from the Kazakhs, who were also referred to as Kyrgyz). On December 5, 1936, the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) was established as a full Union Republic of the USSR.
During the 1920s, Kyrgyzstan developed considerably in cultural, educational, and social life. Literacy was greatly improved, and a standard literary language was introduced. Economic and social development also was notable. Many aspects of the Kyrgyz national culture were retained despite the suppression of nationalist activity under Stalin, and, therefore, tensions with the all-Union authorities were constant.
The early years of glasnost had little effect on the political climate in Kyrgyzstan. However, the Republic's press was permitted to adopt a more liberal stance and to establish a new publication, Literaturny Kirghizstan, by the Union of Writers. Unofficial political groups were forbidden, but several groups that emerged in 1989 to deal with the acute housing crisis were permitted to function.
In June 1990, ethnic tensions between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz surfaced in the Osh Oblast, where Uzbeks form a majority of the population. Violent confrontations ensued, and a state of emergency and curfew were introduced. Order was not restored until August.
The early 1990s brought measurable change to Kyrgyzstan. By then, the Kyrgyzstan Democratic Movement (KDM) had developed into a significant political force with support in Parliament. In an upset victory, Askar Akayev, the liberal President of the Kyrgyz Academy of Sciences, was elected to the Presidency in October 1990. The following January, Akayev introduced new government structures and appointed a new government comprised mainly of younger, reform-oriented politicians.
In December 1990 the Supreme Soviet voted to change the republic's name to the Republic of Kyrgyzstan. (In 1993, it became the Kyrgyz Republic.) In February 1991, the name of the capital, Frunze, was changed back to its prerevolutionary name of Bishkek. Kyrgyz replaced Russian as the official language in September 1991. (Kyrgyz is a member of the Southern Turkic group of languages and was written in Arabic until the 20th century. Latin script was introduced and adopted in 1928, and was subsequently replaced by Cyrillic in 1941.) Despite these aesthetic moves toward independence, economic realities seemed to work against secession from the U.S.S.R. In a referendum on the preservation of the U.S.S.R. in March 1991, 88.7% of the voters approved the proposal to retain the U.S.S.R. as a "renewed federation."
On August 19, 1991, when the State Committee for the State of Emergency (SCSE) assumed power in Moscow, there was an attempt to depose Akayev in Kyrgyzstan. After the coup had collapsed the following week, Akayev and Vice President German Kuznetsov announced their resignations from the Communist Party Soviet Union (CPSU), and the entire bureau and secretariat resigned. This was followed by the Supreme Soviet vote declaring independence from the USSR on August 31, 1991.
In October 1991, Akayev ran unopposed and was elected president of the new independent Republic by direct ballot, receiving 95% of the votes cast. Together with the representatives of seven other Republics that same month, he signed the Treaty of the New Economic Community. Finally, on December 21, 1991, Kyrgyzstan joined with the other four Central Asian Republics to formally enter the new Commonwealth.
In the first years of full independence, President Akayev appeared wholeheartedly committed to the reform process. However, despite the backing of major Western donors, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kyrgyzstan had consequential economic difficulties from the outset. These came mainly as a result of the breakup of the Soviet trading bloc, which impeded the Republic's smooth transfer to a free-market economy.
In 1993, allegations of corruption against Akayev's closest political associates blossomed into a major scandal. One of those accused of improprieties was Vice President Feliks Kulov, who resigned for ethical reasons in December. Following Kulov's resignation, Akayev dismissed the government and called upon the last communist premier, Apas Djumagulov, to form a new one. In January 1994, Akayev initiated a referendum asking for a renewed mandate to complete his term of office. He received 96.2% of the vote.
A new Constitution was passed by the Parliament in May 1993. In 1994, however, the Parliament failed to produce a quorum for its last scheduled session prior to the expiration of its term (February 1995). President Akayev was widely accused of having manipulated a boycott by a majority of the parliamentarians. Akayev, in turn, asserted that the communists had caused a political crisis by preventing the legislature from fulfilling its role. Akayev scheduled an October 1994 referendum, overwhelmingly approved by voters, that proposed two amendments to the Constitution, one that would allow the Constitution to be amended by means of a referendum, and the other creating a new bicameral parliament called the Jogorku Kenesh.
Elections for the two legislative chambers--a 35-seat full-time assembly and a 70-seat part-time assembly--were held in February 1995 after campaigns considered remarkably free and open by most international observers, although the election-day proceedings were marred by widespread irregularities. Independent candidates won most of the seats, suggesting that personalities prevailed over ideologies. The new Parliament convened its initial session in March 1995. One of its first orders of business was the approval of the precise constitutional language on the role of the legislature.
Kyrgyzstan's independent political parties competed in the 1996 parliamentary elections. A February 1996 referendum--in violation of the Constitution and the law on referendums--amended the Constitution to give President Akayev more power. It also removed the clause that parliamentarians be directly elected by universal suffrage. Although the changes gave the President the power to dissolve Parliament, it also more clearly defined Parliament's powers. Since that time, Parliament has demonstrated real independence from the executive branch.
An October 1998 referendum approved constitutional changes, including increasing the number of deputies in the upper house, reducing the number of deputies in the lower house, rolling back Parliamentary immunity, reforming land tender rules, and reforming the state budget.
Two rounds of Parliamentary elections were held on February 20, 2000 and March 12, 2000. With the full backing of the United States, the OSCE reported that the elections failed to comply with commitments to free and fair elections and hence were invalid. Questionable judicial proceedings against opposition candidates and parties limited the choice of candidates available to Kyrgyz voters, while state-controlled media reported favorably on official candidates only and government officials put pressure on independent media outlets that favored the opposition. The Kyrgyz Government is being urged to pursue more free, fair, and transparent elections in the future.
Today, although the 1993 Constitution defines the form of government as a democratic republic, President Askar Akayev dominates the Government. Despite constitutional limitations, Parliament has become more independent and on occasion modified or blocked presidential initiatives. Civil society is relatively strong. In December 2001 elections for heads of local administrations took place for the first time. The local elections were generally orderly but the electoral process lacked transparency in the selection of candidates. In 2000 serious irregularities marred parliamentary and presidential elections. The executive branch dominates the judiciary, and the Government used judicial proceedings against prominent political opposition and independent media figures in numerous instances.
The economy of Kyrgyzstan was severely affected by the collapse of the Soviet trading block. In 1990, some 98% of Kyrgyz exports went to other parts of the Soviet Union. Thus, the nation's economic performance in the early 1990s was worse than any other former Soviet republic except war-torn Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Tajikistan. While economic performance has improved in the last few years, difficulties remain in securing adequate fiscal revenues and providing an adequate social safety net.
The Kyrgyzstan Government has reduced expenditures, ended most price subsidies, and introduced a value added tax. Overall, the government appears committed to transferring to a free market economic system by stabilizing the economy and implementing reforms, which will encourage long-term growth. These reforms have led to Kyrgyzstan's accession to the WTO on December 20, 1998.
The country is poor and mountainous, with a rough balance between agricultural and industrial production and a population of approximately 4.75 million. Cotton, tobacco, vegetables, and sugar are the primary agricultural exports. The country also exports hydroelectric power, gold, antimony, and mercury. The Government has carried out progressive market reforms, although some intended reforms have not been implemented fully. The economy was stable during the year 2001. According to government figures, gross domestic product (GDP) growth was 5.3 percent. Inflation was 3.7 percent. The country faced an external debt of approximately $1.7 billion. Industrial production remained significantly below preindependence levels. Foreign assistance played a significant role in the country's budget. Pensioners, unemployed workers, and government workers with low salaries or unpaid benefits continued to face considerable hardship. Government figures indicated the average annual salary was $324 (15,388 soms), while the subsistence level was estimated at $337 (16,048 soms). Sixty percent of the population live below the poverty level.
The vast majority of today's Kyrgyz are Muslims of the Sunni branch, but Islam came late and fairly superficially to the area. Kyrgyz Muslims generally practice their religion in a specific way influenced by earlier tribal customs. The practice of Islam also differs in the northern and southern regions of the country. Kyrgyzstan remained a secular state after the fall of communism, which had only superficial influence on religious practice when Kyrgyzstan was a Soviet republic. Most of the Russian population of Kyrgyzstan is atheist or Russian Orthodox. The Uzbeks, who make up 12.9 percent of the population, are generally Sunni Muslims.
Islam was introduced to the Kyrgyz tribes between the ninth and twelfth centuries. The most intense exposure to Islam occurred in the seventeenth century, when the Jungars drove the Kyrgyz of the Tian Shan region into the Fergana Valley, whose population was totally Islamic. However, as the danger from the Jungars subsided and Kyrgyz groups returned to their previous region, the influence of Islam became weaker. When the Quqon Khanate conquered the territory of the Kyrgyz in the eighteenth century, the nomadic Kyrgyz remained aloof from the official Islamic practices of that regime. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, most of the Kyrgyz population had been converted to at least a superficial recognition of Islamic practice.
Alongside Islam the Kyrgyz tribes also practiced totemism, the recognition of spiritual kinship with a particular type of animal. Under this belief system, which predated their contact with Islam, Kyrgyz tribes adopted reindeer, camels, snakes, owls, and bears as objects of worship. The sun, moon, and stars also played an important religious role. The strong dependence of the nomads on the forces of nature reinforced such connections and fostered belief in shamanism (the power of tribal healers and magicians with mystical connections to the spirit world) and black magic as well. Traces of such beliefs remain in the religious practice of many of today's Kyrgyz.
Knowledge of and interest in Islam are said to be much stronger in the south, especially around Osh, than farther north. Religious practice in the north is more heavily mixed with animism (belief that every animate and inanimate object contains a spirit) and shamanist practices, giving worship there a resemblance to Siberian religious practice.
Religion has not played an especially large role in the politics of Kyrgyzstan, although more traditional elements of society urged that the Muslim heritage of the country be acknowledged in the preamble to the 1993 constitution. That document mandates a secular state, forbidding the intrusion of any ideology or religion in the conduct of state business. As in other parts of Central Asia, non-Central Asians have been concerned about the potential of a fundamentalist Islamic revolution that would emulate Iran and Afghanistan by bringing Islam directly into the making of state policy, to the detriment of the non-Islamic population. Because of sensitivity about the economic consequences of a continued outflow of Russians, President Akayev has taken particular pains to reassure the non-Kyrgyz that no Islamic revolution threatens. Akayev has paid public visits to Bishkek's main Russian Orthodox church and directed 1 million rubles from the state treasury toward that faith's church-building fund. He has also appropriated funds and other support for a German cultural center. The state officially recognizes Orthodox Christmas (but not Easter) as a holiday, while also noting two Muslim feast days, Oroz ait (which ends Ramadan) and Kurban ait (June 13, the Day of Remembrance), and Muslim New Year, which falls on the vernal equinox.
INCIDENCE OF CRIME
The crime rate in Kyrgyzstan is low compared to industrialized countries. For purpose of comparison, data were drawn for the seven offenses used to compute the United States FBI's index of crime. Index offenses include murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. According to the United Nations Seventh Annual Survey on Crime, crime recorded in police statistics shows the crime rate for the combined total of all Index crimes in Kyrgyzstan to be 424.86, per 100,000 inhabitants in 2000 (noting that this does not include a rate for burglary which was not reported by Kyrgyzstan to the UN). This compares with 1951.92 for Japan (country with a low crime rate) and 4123.97 for USA (country with high crime rate). For intentional homicides ("murder" in the UCR), the rate in 2000 was 8.4 for Kyrgyzstan, 0,.50 for Japan, and 5.51 for USA. For major assaults ("aggravated assaults" in UCR), the rate in 2000 was 4.23 for Kyrgyzstan, compared with 34.04 for Japan, and 323.62 for USA. (Note these data for Japan are for total recorded assaults, since Japan did not report a figure for major assaults.) For rapes, the rate in 2000 was 6.53 for Kyrgyzstan, 1.78 for Japan, and 32.05 for USA. For robberies, the rate in 2000 was 30.46 for Kyrgyzstan, 4.07 for Japan, and 144.92 for USA. For automobile theft, the rate in 2000 was 3.32 for Kyrgyzstan, 243.81 for Japan, and 414.17 for USA. The rate of burglaries for 2000 was not reported by Kyrgyzstan to the UN. The rate for thefts ("larceny" in the UCR) in 2000 was 371.92 for Kyrgyzstan, compared with 1434.27 for Japan and 2475.27 for USA. (Note that USA data were those reported to INTERPOL for year 2000, since USA has not yet reported this data to UN.) Only murder in the above data has a high rate compared to Japan and USA.
TRENDS IN CRIME
Between 1995 (Sixth Annual Survey) and 2000 (Seventh Annual Survey) the rate for all recorded Index offenses decreased from 559.01 to 424.86 per 100,000 in Kyrgyzstan, a decrease of 24%. The rate of intentional homicide decreased from 11.85 to 8.4, a decrease of 29.1%. The rate for major assaults decreased from 10.15 to4.23, a decrease of 58.3%. The rate of rape decreased from 7.44 to 6.53, a decrease of 12.2%. The rate for robberies decreased from 40.36 to 30.46 per 100,000, a decrease of 24.5%. The rate for automobile theft decreased from 6.4 to 3.32, a decrease of 48.1%. The rate of burglaries was not reported in either 1995 or 2000. Thefts decreased from 482.81 to 371.92, a decrease of 23%.
In the early 1990s, Kyrgyzstan's crime problem was generally regarded as out of control. In 1994 more than 40,000 crimes were reported, or more than one crime per 100 citizens, and a high percentage of those crimes were classified as serious.
Petty crime touched every sector of the economy. For example, although cellular telephone networks and satellite linkups had been established in Bishkek, telecommunications elsewhere had grown much worse because the theft and resale of cable had become common. Power outages were frequent for the same reason, and any sort of equipment with salvageable metal was said to be quickly stripped if left unattended.
Foreigners were not exempt from crime, as they were in the Soviet era. In 1994 some 185 crimes against foreigners were registered in Bishkek. Most of these crimes were apartment burglaries, although beatings and armed robberies also were reported. In April 1995, a small bomb was left in front of a Belgian relief mission's door, and "Foreigners Out of Bishkek" was painted on the wall opposite.
President Akayev vowed to crack down on crime in the mid-1990s, proposing much stiffer penalties for common crimes, including life imprisonment for auto theft. One sign of his seriousness was the replacement in January 1995 of the entire senior staff of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The new minister, the Kyrgyz Modolbek Moldashev, served in the Soviet KGB and lived most of his life outside the republic. When he took office, Moldashev brought in his own people from the State Committee for National Security and the Ministry of Defense. However, it is far from clear that Kyrgyzstan's security organizations were capable of cracking down on the drug-driven sector of the economy, and experts predicted that if narcotics escape control, the spiral of criminal activities will continue to grow.
Government corruption and malfeasance also contributed to an atmosphere of lawlessness. In the mid-1990s, bribery, kickbacks, and influence peddling became increasingly common in government agencies. Law enforcement officials received little cooperation from legislators in punishing their colleagues who are caught violating the law. In 1993 the Interregional Investigative Unit, established to combat bribery, found itself shut down after twenty successful investigations and replaced by an economic crimes investigation unit, some members of which began taking bribes themselves.
Growing criminal activities in recent years started to hinder socio-economic and political reforms in Kyrgyzstan, said Kyrgyz Prime Minister Kurmanbek Bakiev in an interview published by the Slovo Kyrgyzstana newspaper. According to Mr. Bakiev, corruption, smuggling, and economic crimes negatively affect Kyrgyz reforms. "The damage inflicted by economic crimes last year totaled about 10 percent of the Kyrgyz annual budget," he said. Mr. Bakiev added that corruption is a more serious problem in the Kyrgyz authorities that work on issues of finances, crediting, banking, licensing, and allocation of currency. Among the reasons that contribute to the increased crime rate Mr. Bakiev mentioned a lack of comprehensive legal system to support the transition to free market relations, clear law Enforcement policy, and property and property-owner protection, as well as poor functioning of law enforcement bodies. "As long as corrupt officials work in law enforcement agencies, we will have no success," said Mr. Bakiev."
The declining crime rates (24% overall) in the above analysis, however, may suggest that President Akayev's reforms may have had some effect on the crime rate problem.
In the early and mid-1990s, preservation of internal security against a variety of crimes, and especially against growing commerce in narcotics, became an extremely difficult task. White-collar crime and government corruption added to the atmosphere of social disorder. In 1991 President Akayev abolished the Kyrgyzstan branch of the KGB and replaced it with the State Committee for National Security, whose role subsequently was prescribed in a 1992 law. In 1996 the armed force of the committee, the National Guard, was an elite force of 1,000 recruited from all national groups in Kyrgyzstan. Organized in two battalions, the National Guard has been commanded since its inception by a Kyrgyz general; the chief of the border troops also is under that commander. The National Guard has the prescribed function of protecting the president and government property and assisting in natural disasters; except under exceptional circumstances, its role does not include maintenance of domestic order.
The republic's police system is largely unchanged from the Soviet era. Still called "militia," the police are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. A force estimated at 25,000 individuals, the militia is commanded by the Central Police Force in Bishkek. The republic's police have suffered the same large-scale resignations because of low pay and bad working conditions as have other former Soviet republics lacking resources to support internal security. In April 1995, the national power company shut off power to the Central Police Force headquarters for nonpayment of electric bills, leaving the capital without even emergency police service for five hours. The poor equipment of the police further hampers their ability to respond to crimes. Police personnel frequently have been implicated in crime. Nearly 700 police were caught in the commission of crimes in the two months after President Akayev replaced the entire administration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in 1995.
Today, law enforcement responsibilities are divided among the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) for general crime, the National Security Service (SNB) for state-level crime, and the procurator's office for both types of crime. Both the MVD and the SNB deal with corruption and organized crime. Both the MVD and the SNB appear to be under the general control of the Government, while border guards are under the full control of the Government. Some members of the security services committed human rights abuses.
In year 2001, the Government's human rights record remained poor; although there were a few improvements, numerous problems remained. The Government continued to limit citizens' ability to change their Government. NGO's and parliamentary deputies on occasion succeeded in blocking presidential initiatives through parliamentary action and grassroots campaigns. Members of the security forces at times tortured, beat, and otherwise mistreated persons.
The Constitution prohibits torture, mistreatment, and inhuman or degrading punishment; however, at times police and SNB forces committed abuses, including torture, beatings, and other mistreatment. At times police used beatings to extract confessions. The supervision of conditions for pretrial detainees was poor, and police were supervised poorly, were not always paid promptly, and at times committed crimes.
There were credible reports of torture and rape committed by security forces against several members of an opposition political party. The police at times used force to disrupt opposition demonstrations. Government officials facilitated, or were complicit in, trafficking.
The Constitution prohibits unlawful entry into a home against the wishes of the occupant and states that a person's private life, privacy of correspondence, telephonic, and telegraphic communications are protected; however, this prohibition was not respected always in practice. The law and procedures require the General Procurator's approval for wiretaps, searches of homes, interception of mail, and similar acts; however, the prosecutor may give approval over the telephone for searches, which means that in such cases no written proof exists to verify that the search was approved. In certain cases, law enforcement officers may carry out a search first and then get approval within 24 hours. If approval is not given, any evidence seized is inadmissible in court.
The SNB continued to monitor the Uighur community. There were unconfirmed reports by citizens active in politics or human rights monitoring that the privacy of their communications was violated. There were credible reports that in April 2001 a government agent obtained unauthorized access to an NGO database for the purpose of obtaining and transmitting private documents and correspondence. Employees of the NGO also have been subject to arbitrary requests from the SNB for meetings and for personal information.
Since the September 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S., the Government has conducted widespread document checks of some foreigners. These checks often resulted in the detention and deportation of those who were not in the country legally.
Organizational structures responsible for violations of privacy rights during the Soviet era largely have remained in place.
In year 2001, arbitrary arrest and detention was a problem. Police at times used ill-defined charges to arrest persons and could be bribed to release them.
The Procurator's Office determines who may be detained, arrested, and prosecuted. The Procurator must issue an arrest warrant before a person may be detained, and there were no reports that this provision was abused. The Criminal Code permits law enforcement officials to detain suspects for 72 hours before releasing them or charging them with a crime. The Criminal Procedure Code requires notification of a detainee's family by the investigator within 12 hours of detention; however, this requirement often was not observed in practice. Since 1990 persons arrested or charged with crimes have had the legal right to defense counsel; if a suspect is charged, the Procurator must advise defense counsel immediately. Defense Counsel must be permitted to visit the accused within the first 3 days of incarceration; however, at times the accused did not see defense counsel until trial.
The SNB, the MVD, and the General Procurator carry out investigations. The accused usually remains in detention while the Procurator investigates and prepares the case for trial. The Procurator has the discretion to keep the accused in pretrial detention for as long as 1 year, but there are regulations that provide for provisional release before trial. After 1 year, the Procurator must release the accused or ask Parliament to extend the period of detention. Since independence there have been no known instances in which Parliament has been asked to extend a detention.
In Jalal-Abad Oblast, the security forces detained 117 persons during the year 2001 for membership in the Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamic organization and distribution of its literature.
Authorities detained some demonstrators during the year 2001.
On June 27, the authorities arrested, detained, and charged Noomanjan Arkebaev from the Osh branch of the Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights (KCHR) for allegedly distributing antigovernment leaflets. Arkebaev denied the charges and initiated a hunger strike on July 3. He was released on July 20 after signing a statement that he would not leave the area; no trial date had been set at year's end 2001.
The Government detained several prominent political opposition candidates in order to prevent them from participating in or winning office in the 2000 parliamentary and presidential elections. In these cases, the authorities resorted to false or out-of-date charges of common crimes unrelated to the detainees' political activity.
In the past, the SNB arrested Uighurs (an Islamic Turkic group native to western China) on ill-defined charges; however, there were no reports of such arrests during the year 2001.
The Government does not employ forced exile. As a result of government pressure, the President of the KHCR remained in self-imposed exile abroad.
The legal system of Kyrgyzstan is a civil law system. The court system remains essentially unchanged from the Soviet era. Nominally there are three levels in the court system: local courts, which handle petty crimes such as pickpocketing and vandalism; province-level courts, which handle crimes such as murder, grand larceny, and organized crime; and the Supreme Court, to which decisions of the lower courts can be appealed. However, there has been persistent conflict between Akayev and the legislature over the composition and authority of the Supreme Court, as well as over Akayev's choice of chief justice. As in the Soviet system, the office of the state procurator, chief civilian legal officer of the state, acts as both prosecuting attorney and chief investigator in each case.
The protections for individuals accused of crimes remain at the primitive level of Soviet law. According to law, the accused can be held for three days before a charge is made, and pretrial detention can last for as long as a year. There is no system of bail; the accused remains incarcerated until tried. Both the police and forces of the State Committee for National Security have the right to violate guarantees of privacy (of the home, telephone, mail, and banks), with the sanction of the state procurator. In theory search warrants and judicial orders for such things as wiretaps only are issued by authority of a judge; in practice this is not always done.
According to the constitution, judges are to be chosen by the president, subject to parliamentary confirmation. Potential judges must be Kyrgyzstani citizens between thirty-five and sixty-five years of age who have legal training and at least ten years of legal experience. The length of judges' tenure is unlimited, but judges are subject to dismissal for cause by parliament. In the mid-1990s, the judicial system remained incomplete both in the filling of prescribed positions and in the establishment of judicial procedures and precedents. A Supreme Court was appointed, but its functioning was delayed in 1995 by parliament's refusal to approve Akayev's nominee as chief justice. Although the parliament of 1991-94 also mandated a national constitutional court (over the objections of Akayev), that body never has been established.
In general, the rule of law is not well established in the republic. The one area of the law that has flourished in Kyrgyzstan is libel law, which public figures have used widely to control the republic's press. By contrast, the observance of laws designed for the regulation of the economy is not uniform or consistent, even by government officials. The functioning of the State Arbitration Court, which has responsibility for financial and jurisdictional disputes within government agencies and between government agencies and private enterprises, has been extremely irregular and lacking in oversight by any other government institution.
As of year 2001, the Constitution provides for an independent judiciary; however, the executive branch continued to dominate the judiciary. The courts were perceived widely as a rubber stamp for the Procurator and for high-ranking government officials and, as the protectors of citizens' rights.
Cases originate in local courts; they may move to appeals courts at the district or regional level and finally to the Supreme Court. There are separate military courts and a separate arbitration court system that handles civil disputes.
Defendants are afforded the same constitutional protections in both military and civilian courts, although military court proceedings may be closed to the public. A civilian may be tried in a military court if one of the codefendants is a member of the military. Military court cases may be appealed to a military appellate court, and ultimately to the Supreme Court.
The Constitutional Court has responsibility for determining the constitutionality of laws, resolving disputes concerning the interpretation of the Constitution, and determining the validity of presidential elections.
Traditional elders' courts consider property and family law matters and low-level crime, often involving juveniles. Cases are submitted by agreement of the parties as an alternative to formal proceedings. Decisions of elders' courts may be appealed to the corresponding municipal court. Local elders' courts are found in almost every oblast and region. Local elders' courts are under the supervision of the Procurator's Office, but they may not receive close oversight due to the fact that many such courts are located in remote regions, which makes monitoring difficult.
The Procurator, not the judge, is in charge of criminal proceedings. The Procurator brings cases to court and tries them before a judge and two "people's assessors." The court compares the facts as presented by the Procurator and the defense, and in most cases makes its decision after receiving all available information in each case. The court may render one of three decisions: Innocent, guilty, or indeterminate; if indeterminate, a case is returned to the Procurator for further investigation. The decision of a court to return a case to the Procurator for further investigation may not be appealed, and accused persons are returned to the Procurator's custody, where they may remain under detention.
The law provides for defendants' rights, including the presumption of the innocence of the accused; however, such rights were not always respected. The judicial system continued to operate, in many cases, under Soviet laws and procedures in which there is no presumption of innocence and the focus of pretrial investigation is to collect evidence sufficient to show guilt. The Criminal Procedure Code provides for an unlimited number of visits of unlimited duration between an attorney and a client. Although official permission for such visits still is required, such permission usually is granted. Revisions of the Code in 1999 greatly expanded the rights of defense lawyers to obtain access to all evidence gathered during the course of the investigation. In practice all members of the court have equal rights and may question witnesses. Witnesses do not have to present their testimony in court; instead they affirm or deny their statements in the Procurator's files. Under the law, the accused and the defense counsel have access to all evidence gathered by the Procurator. They may attend all proceedings, which are usually public, and are allowed to question witnesses and present evidence. However, this right is not respected always in practice.
The Constitution provides for terms for judges that range from 15 years for Constitutional Court judges to 3 years for first-term local judges. Very low judges' salaries have led to a well-grounded view among lawyers and citizens that all but a very few scrupulously honest judges are open to bribes or pressure.
Despite the December 2000 appointment of an ethnic Korean as head of the Supreme Court, the appointment of ethnic Kyrgyz to key positions in the judicial system led to charges by non-Kyrgyz that the system is arbitrary and unfair and that the courts treat Kyrgyz more leniently than members of other groups. Although systematic discrimination in the judicial process was not clearly evident, there were credible allegations that it occurred in some cases. There also were complaints by Uzbeks, and even by ethnic Kyrgyz, that the southern portion of the country, which has a large Uzbek population, is underrepresented in the judiciary.
Legislators in the past used their parliamentary immunity to avoid being brought to court; however, a 1998 change in the law limited immunity to official acts only.
Only one case was brought against an individual for apparently political reasons, unlike in the previous year, when there were a number of such cases related to the parliamentary elections. In December the Government tried Felix Kulov on charges of abuse of power when he was governor of Chui Oblast in the mid-1990's. This was the third prosecution of Kulov in 2 years. The trial had not concluded by year's end. Economic crimes such as tax evasion, embezzlement, and theft of government property, including electric power, were common; prosecution for these crimes was rare but at times appeared to be directed at opponents of the Government. In 2000 there was considerable evidence of executive branch interference in verdicts involving prominent political opposition figures in connection with the 2000 elections. For example, the Government frequently used the judicial process to eliminate key political opposition leaders from participation in elections and narrow the range of choice for voters.
In January 2001, legal proceedings against Feliks Kulov, the opposition Ar-Namys Party leader, and former parliamentary and presidential candidate, resumed in a closed military court, on charges of instigation of, and accessory to, fraud and abuse of power for personal interests. The initial prosecution of Kulov, considered the most popular opponent of President Akayev in the 2000 elections, began after his unsuccessful bid for a parliamentary seat in March 2000. Despite his acquittal in August 2000, he was brought up on the same charges in the same court in January. On January 22, Kulov was found guilty and sentenced to 7 years in prison. On July 19, the Supreme Court upheld the verdict.
The courts rejected the appeals of two other individuals with connections to Kulov. A court rejected the appeal of the former director of the School of stuntmen in Bishkek, Usen Kudaibergenov, who had been charged with receiving excessively large sums from Kulov in connection with a celebration in 1995. On December 13, a Bishkek regional court rejected the appeal of Djanybek Bakhchiev, who had worked with Kulov when the latter was vice-president and in other posts. Bakhchiev had been convicted of receiving a special military rank and other offenses.
Opposition leader Tolchubek Turganaliyev, who had been imprisoned since 1997, received a presidential pardon and returned to opposition politics.
Very little current information is known about Kyrgyzstan's prison system. In the Soviet era, at least twelve labor camps and three prisons operated in the republic, including at least one uranium mine-labor camp in which prisoners worked without protective gear. The total prison capacity and present population are not known, but it may be presumed that prisons in Kyrgyzstan are suffering the same overcrowding as are prisons elsewhere in the former Soviet Union. The 1995 purge of the Ministry of Internal Affairs included appointment of a new head of the prison system, a colonel who had been assistant minister of internal affairs prior to the shakeup.
In year 2001, prison conditions were very poor and included overcrowding, food shortages, and lack of heat and other necessities. Prisoners detained by the SNB rather than the MVD are kept in SNB facilities; after conviction they are held in a regular prison. Male and female prisoners are housed separately. Conditions in the women's prison were less overcrowded than in those for men, and inmates were allowed to perform menial labor to earn money needed to provide necessities. Juveniles are housed separately from adults. There are no special facilities for political prisoners. Pretrial detainees are held separately from convicted prisoners. Pretrial detention facilities were extremely overcrowded and conditions generally were worse than in regular prisons. Prison visits by family members are at the discretion of the investigator during the investigation phase. After a conviction, family members may visit a prisoner regularly.
The Government usually permitted domestic and international human rights monitors to visit prisons if they had personal connections. During the year 2001, the International Commission of the Red Cross (ICRC) was allowed to visit detainees in MVD and SNB prisons in accordance with the ICRC's standard procedures.
Violence against women, including domestic violence, was a problem. The law specifically prohibits domestic violence and spousal abuse. Interior Ministry statistics indicated that during the year 2001 there were approximately 2,600 crimes of all types against women, but many crimes against women are not reported due to psychological pressures, cultural traditions, and apathy by law enforcement officials.
Activists note that rape is becoming more common, although it is not clear whether the incidence of rape or only the reporting of such attacks is becoming more common. The authorities often ignore such attacks. There were reports that police raped women in custody. The Government has not taken specific action to deal with this problem of violence against women.
The Umut (Hope) Center in Bishkek provided basic protection as well as psychological, legal, and medical counseling for battered women and girls. The Umut Center organized biweekly discussions and training for women to advise and counsel them about their rights. It provides 10 days of emergency shelter, clothing, and meals for battered women as well as employment counseling and legal services. Umut received grants from a variety of foreign sources during the year 2001 and provided shelter for 252 women and girls during the year 2001. Another center in Bishkek, Sezim, maintained a staff of lawyers, psychologists, and doctors, and operated a crisis hotline for the public. Staff members conducted training, debates, and seminars on women's rights and family planning. There also were internationally funded crisis centers for women in need of such assistance in both Talas and Jalal-Abad. In Naryn a crisis center operated by the NGO Tendesh maintained a hotline to support women affected by violence and provided psychological, legal, and medical assistance. However, the number of shelters for battered women had not increased to meet the need.
Trafficking in women and girls for the purpose of prostitution was a persistent problem.
Some rural inhabitants continued to observe the traditional practice of kidnaping women and girls for forced marriage; the MVD reports that each year between 10 and 30 women are kidnaped and forced into marriage.
There were 700 to 800 child inspectors in the country--MVD policemen charged with enforcing the law with respect to juveniles. The lack of social workers or a well-established social work tradition means that cases involving abandoned or orphaned children are viewed typically as law enforcement matters. As a result, authorities conducted sweeps to round up and institutionalize street children. Children who were found were sent to orphanages and police holding centers, depending on the amount of space available.
The KCF has one shelter in Bishkek to provide food, clothing, and schooling to approximately 30 children. During the year 2001, the Svetlii Put shelter received training assistance from UNICEF and cared for approximately 32 children. The SOS Children's Village, funded by the Austrian organization Kinder Dorf International and other foreign and domestic organizations, cares for orphans. Approximately 110 children and 14 mothers live in this village, which offers housing and a kindergarten.
Human rights groups note that children who are arrested usually are denied lawyers. Police often do not notify parents of children who are arrested, and neither parents nor lawyers generally are present during questioning, despite laws to the contrary. Children often are intimidated into signing confessions.
The forced marriage of underage girls is illegal; however, it has become more common, and the authorities often tacitly approved this practice. Cultural traditions and social structures discourage victims from going to the authorities. The MVD reports that each year as many as 30 underage girls are kidnaped to become brides.
Girls were trafficked for the purpose of prostitution.
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS
The law does not address specifically trafficking in persons and trafficking was a persistent problem. Government officials facilitated, or were complicit in, trafficking.
According to the International Office of Migration (IOM), approximately 4,000 women and 7 boys were trafficked abroad in 1999. No estimates were available for subsequent years; however, the IOM reported that it dealt with several cases of trafficking during the year 2001. The country was primarily a country of origin and transit for trafficked persons, although there have been a few reports of the country being a destination for women trafficked as prostitutes. According to the IOM, the country has become a country of transit for individuals being trafficked mostly from South Asia, China, and Afghanistan to the West. The exact number of those in transit is unknown. The country was a country of origin for trafficked women and girls, largely to Turkey, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates for the purpose of prostitution. The IOM also reported some instances of the trafficking of children for prostitution and labor. A flourishing sex trade draws girls as young as age 10 from destitute mountain villages. According to the IOM, the sex trade involves trafficking abroad. The extent of this problem is unknown. Observers widely believe that some government authorities may facilitate or otherwise be complicit in trafficking activities. The Bishkek Migration Management Center (an independent NGO), and the State Agency of Migration estimated that between 500 and 5000 persons, mostly poor farmers from the south, also may have been trafficked from Kyrgyzstan to Kazakhstan as forced laborers on tobacco plantations. The Kyrgyz press also carried reports of Kyrgyz forced laborers trafficked to the United States.
Groups targeted by traffickers include young under- or unemployed women who are unable to earn a living, particularly ethnic Slavic women under the age of 25. The worsening economic situation, high unemployment levels, particularly in the South, and gender inequality, have made young women and poor workers vulnerable to traffickers who exploit them by offering lucrative jobs abroad. Often women were trafficked through deception, and were lured abroad, at times by means of newspaper advertisements and under the pretext of legitimate employment. For example, women responded to job offers as waitresses, au pairs, or dancers, but found themselves without documents or the money for return tickets, and were forced work for their traffickers. Internet marriage agencies also reportedly recruited young women with false offers of marriage to foreigners. The IOM reports that traffickers are often persons who previously operated local prostitution networks. They use networks of returnees, family members, and friends, to recruit victims. The IOM also indicated that tour agents, restaurants, and nightclubs supplement their legal activities by providing young women to foreign prostitution rings.
Observers widely believe that some government authorities may facilitate or otherwise be complicit in trafficking activities. Eleven law enforcement officers were accused in 1999 and 2000 of preparing fraudulent documentation for trafficked women, and criminal proceedings were instituted against three of the accused officers. The results of the proceedings remained unknown, although there was no evidence that the officers ever were tried. In February the MVD reported that since 1997 a total of 30 officers in passport offices in remote regions were dismissed for providing falsified passports.
There is no law specifically prohibiting trafficking in persons; however, other existing laws can be used to prosecute traffickers for crimes such as kidnaping, exploitation, rape, and deprivation of freedom. The maximum sentence for those prosecuted under these laws is 15 years; however, the very few traffickers that were caught received lenient sentences or fines. During the year 2001, three persons were tried and convicted of trafficking-related crimes and there were four trafficking-related convictions in 2000. However, the Government does not actively investigate specific cases of trafficking. Law enforcement efforts put trafficking under the umbrella of "contraband" or organized criminal groups, and do not target trafficking specifically. A lack of coordination between government agencies involved in migration issues, the obscure wording of laws regarding trafficking problems, and corruption contributed to the problem.
The government agencies involved in antitrafficking efforts are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Interior, the National Security Service, the Ministry of Health, the State Procurator's Department, the State Agency of Migration and the State Committee for Tourism, Sport and Youth policy. The Government created an inter-Ministerial Council after the release of the IOM report in February to develop a plan of action to combat trafficking. The Council recommended that the Government cooperate with other governmental ministries and departments as well as with international organizations, NGO's, and Interpol. Local NGO's have stated that the Government does not cooperate with these groups to help assist victims although, according to SEZIM, the General Procurator's Office has cooperated in the past with SEZIM and has indicated a desire to increase cooperation. However, many observers stated that there appeared to be an overall lack of understanding of trafficking problems in the Government and inadequate training of law enforcement officers in identifying and fighting trafficking. The Ministry of Interior had planned to establish a special police unit to combat trafficking; however, it was unable to do so due to lack of funding.
NGO's reported that the Government deports foreign victims of trafficking. According to an NGO, TAIS-Plus, three Uzbek women who had been sex workers were deported to Uzbekistan in February. Many of those who transit are abandoned by the traffickers and live in hiding out of fear of being discovered by the authorities. According to both the OSCE and the IOM, many of those who have returned from commercial work overseas have stated that they were forced to pay bribes to corrupt Kyrgyz law enforcement officials to avoid imprisonment. According to local NGO's the Government does not assist victims of trafficking with any special services and according to the UMUP and TAIS-Plus organizations, the Government does not provide funding to foreign or domestic NGO's for services to victims.
Perhaps the most lucrative, and certainly the most problematic, of Kyrgyzstan's exports is narcotics, particularly opium and heroin. Government officials believe that the narcotics industry presents the greatest challenge to the internal security of Kyrgyzstan because of its capacity to destabilize the country.
In the Soviet era, the Kyrgyz Republic was a legal producer of opium, with about 2,000 hectares of land planted to poppies in 1974, the last year before world pressure forced such farms to be closed. At that point, an estimated 16 percent of the world's opium came from Kyrgyzstan. The country's climate is exceptionally well suited to cultivation of opium poppies and wild marijuana, producing unusually pure final products from both types of plant. Kyrgyzstan is said to produce even better poppies than does nearby Afghanistan, which has surpassed Burma as the world's leading supplier of heroin.
In 1992 Kyrgyzstan applied to the World Health Organization for permission to reinstitute the production of medicinal opium as a means of generating desperately needed revenue. The plan was to increase the planting in the northeastern Ysyk-Köl area to about 10,000 hectares and to open plantations in Talas and Naryn as well, yielding a projected annual profit of about US$200 million. Under pressure from the world community, the plan was dropped.
In 1992 republic narcotics police uncovered thirteen drug-refining laboratories and seized two tons of ready narcotics. The police reported that drug-related crime rose 222 percent from 1991 to 1992 and that 830 people had been arrested on drug-distribution charges. Another report indicated that 70 percent of the 44,000 crimes reported in the republic in 1992 had a connection to drugs in one way or another. At that time, the head of the country's narcotics police estimated that only about 20 percent of the narcotics traffic was being interdicted, mainly because resources are very inadequate. Government officials fear that this industry will continue to grow, especially in the absence of large-scale international assistance; in 1994 Russia ceased its cooperation with Kyrgyzstan in narcotics interdiction. An emerging distribution chain moves opium to Moscow, then to Poland, from where it is transferred to Europe and the United States.
Osh is said to have become a major new international point-of-purchase for opium and heroin, which is produced in all of the countries adjoining the Fergana Valley, including Kyrgyzstan. More than 300 kilograms of opium were seized in Osh Province in 1994, an amount estimated to be less than 10 percent of the total moving through Osh. At the end of 1994, the head of the National Security Committee characterized the narcotics trade as the republic's sole growth industry, which he warned was solidifying its grip on the republic's conventional economy.
Kyrgyzstan is not a major producer of illicit narcotics, but its location continues to attract narcotics trafficking from Afghanistan and Pakistan into Russia and Western Europe. Kyrgyz law enforcement agencies are struggling to control this problem, but are poorly trained and understaffed. However, Kyrgyz authorities are aware of the need to combat narcotics trafficking, and are working to develop an effective anti-narcotics plan. Kyrgyzstan is a party 1988 UN Drug Convention.
Kyrgyzstan is increasingly popular as a transit route for Afghani heroin and hashish. It became a transit country for opium in the 1980 - from the beginning of the Afghan war. The transit significantly increased in the 1990, when the civil war began in Tajikistan. During the last 6-7 years, the problems of drug trafficking and drug addiction have become more severe.
The narcotics are mostly routed through the city of Osh in the south of Kyrgyzstan, where they are re-packaged and sent north over the mountain routes by individual couriers, or small groups. These narcotics find their way onto the Russian and western European markets. There is no evidence that narcotics trafficked through Kyrgyzstan have reached the United States. However, there is at least one reported case of exporting heroin to Germany. It was a high-profile case which involved cooperation between Kyrgyz and German law enforcement officials, as a result of which a Kyrgyzstani national and former world and European boxing champion, Andrey Kurnyavka, was arrested in Germany in August 1998, when he attempted to sell 3 kilograms of heroin brought from Kyrgyzstan.
The GOK reports that there are six known trafficking groups operating from Osh. These six groups are the only groups throughout all of Kyrgyzstan know to be involved in trafficking. Use of women as couriers has obviously increased due to rising poverty among women, and a local perception that women are more reluctant to reveal the name of their employer if apprehended. During the last year, 344 women (12.4 per cent of the total number of those arrested for narcotics related crimes, including trafficking.) were convicted for drug trafficking.
Marijuana and hashish are the most popular illicit drugs in Kyrgyzstan. Amphetamines are another commonly abused drug. There are 50,000 officially registered drug addicts in Kyrgyzstan, 94.1 per cent of the total are capable of working, and are of working age, 5 per cent of the total are women. As early as 1995, reports were received of money laundering occurring in Kyrgyzstan's newly formed banking system. Fearing the economic repercussions of a banking system subverted to criminal enterprises, the GOK took actions to bring the banks into compliance with western banking standards. Additionally, legislation was enacted to provide a legal basis for asset forfeiture in criminal cases. There have been no further reports of money laundering efforts through Kyrgyz banks.
Kyrgyzstan is not likely to become a major producer of narcotics, even though, by GOK's estimates, wildly growing opium poppy, cannabis and ephedra occupy at least 15,000 acres. GOK has no evidence that 1000 ha or more of poppy or is being cultivated or harvested. Kyrgyz officials believe this figure is declining because there are 70 teams involved in destroying wild poppy and cannabis. Nevertheless, a UNDCP report states the total HA cannabis cultivation was 5,835 ha, but it does not come to the United States in quantities that significantly affect us.
Almost 300 criminal cases have been brought up in 1998 for illegal cultivation of drug-containing crops.
President Akayev emphasized the importance of the anti-drug policy on September 8, 1998 when he presented a speech to the central Asian heads of state in Baku calling for healthy life styles and struggle against drug addiction and drug trafficking as priority calling tasks.
General Mameyev, the head of the anti-narcotics commission, thinks the following measures are needed: active steps by local authorities to control illegal plantations of poppy and cannabis; better control of drug supplies and their disbursement at pharmacies, warehouses, and hospitals; improvement of the efficiency of customs and law enforcement agencies and eradication of corruption among them.
The GOK has taken steps to develop an effective counter-narcotics program. Recognizing that its law enforcement personnel are poorly trained, the GOK has cooperated with U.S. law enforcement agencies to receive necessary training and equipment. The GOK has also expressed an interest in continuing and broadening this cooperation. Additionally, the GOK cooperates with the UNDCP for assistance in counter-narcotics efforts, and assisted the UNDCP in opening an office in Osh, where the trafficking groups are located.
The Ministry of Interior has the lead in drug interdiction activities, but the 180 officers who are actively engaged in counter-narcotics efforts are under the supervision of a former army general who heads the commission for drug control and reports directly to the Prime Minister. The general coordinates all anti-narcotics efforts and acts as a kind of 'drug czar' for the Kyrgyz republic.
The State Commission for Drug Control coordinates the efforts of over 15 ministries and agencies. There is a special governmental program of actions to control drugs for the years of 1998 to 2000, which focuses on the reduction of demand in drugs and illegal drug trafficking.
In April 1998, Kyrgyzstan was the first in Central Asia to pass the law on 'drugs, illicit narcotics and precursors'. The commission developed this law for Drug Control in accordance with the requirements of international UN Drug Conventions of 1961, 1971 and 1988. The law regulates the issues of legal and illegal turnover of drugs, illicit narcotics and precursors and establishes rules for handling them.
The commission has also developed a concept for the national policy on drug control for the period from 1998 to 2000. It envisages regulations on confiscation, storage and disposal of illicit narcotics.
By November 30, 1998, over 1.5 tons of drugs were confiscated, including: 108 kilograms of opium (versus 398 in 1997), almost 30 kilograms of heroin (versus about 2 kilograms in 1997. During the current year every ninth to tenth criminal case was drug-related. Beside Kyrgyzstanis, among the arrested drug smugglers, there are citizens of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbajan, and even Iran and Nigeria.
In September 1998, the GOK hosted an INL-funded U.s. Customs Regional Narcotics Interdiction Course and Train-the-Trainer Workshop in Bishkek which was attended by 18 Kyrgyz customs, police and defense officials. In addition, a U.S. multi-agency Money Laundering Seminar was conducted in Bishkek for 40 Kyrgyz officials.
GOK authorities believe that narcotics related corruption is quite common. Corruption is a widely acknowledged problem in Kyrgyzstan, and there is no reason to believe that narcotics related agencies such as the Ministry of Interior and the border forces are immune to the problem. However, the GOK has taken strict measures to bring the problem of corruption under control. In accordance with a Presidential decree, a special coordination council was established in December 1998 to ferret out and prosecute those officials suspected of corruption.
Kyrgyzstan is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention as well as the 1961 UN Single Convention and 1971 UN Convention of Psychotropic Substances. Kyrgyzstan is also a party to the central Asian counter-narcotics protocol between the central Asian countries and the UNDCP. Currently, Kyrgyzstan does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.
Kyrgyztsan once produced a significant percentage of the world's licit opium poppy supply for the manufacture of the Soviet Union's medicinal morphine production. The licit cultivation of opium poppies, however, ended in 1973, when the Soviet Union imposed a ban due to the difficulties of controlling the cultivation and processing of opium.
According to the Ministry of Interior synthetic drug laboratories producing amphetamines and ephedrine have been discovered in the past. Currently, there are no official reports of opium production in Kyrgyztsan. However, according to General Mameyev, there are strong suspicions that in the Osh oblast there are underground laboratories producing heroin out of raw opium. Laboratories in Pakistan and Afghanistan are known to produce heroin, and there is information about such laboratories in Gorny Badakhshan of Tajikistan. There is speculation that heroin is being produced locally but the bulk is being transported through Kyrgyzstan is coming from the outside.
One of the reasons for increased drug trafficking is related to the deterioration of safeguarding of NIS borders and the complicated internal situation in Tajikistan.
The difficulties of controlling drug traffic from Afghanistan include: harsh high-altitude and climatic conditions at the main drug road Khorog-Osh (altitude of 3500-4000 m, winter temperature of minus 40 degrees Celsius); involvement of governmental officials and law enforcement officers; and good knowledge of mountain trails by drug smugglers, which allows drug dealers to bypass border guard posts. These trails are impossible for law enforcement units to control. More rigid control at Sary-Tash post in the Osh oblast forced drug smugglers to change their routes and go from Gorny Badakhshan in the direction of Dara-Ut-Kurgan of Chon Alai region and further down to Kyzyl-Kiya, Uzgen, Jalal-Abad and then to Uzbekistan.
Internet research assisted by Racquel A.