Female head of Kyrgyz Central Election Commission resigns over threats

Today Klara Kabilova, former head of the Central Election Commission, made a statement about receiving threats from Maksim Bakiev, son of President Kurmanbek Bakiev. In her statements she mentions that he swore at her and threatened her safety.

I am not surprised that this happened. Kyrgyz masculinity is very violent, quite a few men find it acceptable to threaten other people, swear at them and use violence to pressure a person into agreeing or submitting. It is seen as part of being a man and hardly challenged. I want to give credit to Klara for speaking up against abuse. In her statement she highlights power dynamic between her and the president’s son.  She is older than him, a woman, a mother, a daughter of elderly parents and holds an important government position. I hope she is feeling safe where she is right now. I am so glad that I am away from political opposition now and am dealing with ‘soft issues’ though who knows what is going to happen after CEDAW session or OSCE Human Dimension Meeting.  Again thank you to Klara for speaking up, I hope more people will do that to make the state transparent and to put an end to abuse of authority and nepotism.

Activists peacefully protesting arrested in Bishkek

Just couple of days ago I wanted to join a protest called ‘I don’t believe’ in front of the Central Election Commission. The election process turned out very flawed and I do not believe that people voted in favor of a party they did not know much about. I did not go because of loads of work in the office and this very day found out that all the people who joined the protest were arrested. They received their sentences yesteday ranging from 500 soms (10 Euro) fines to 7 days incarceration. Strangely enough the wellknown activists received more drastic sentences. One of the people who is supposed to spend 7 days in jail is Mirsulzhan Namazaliev who is a youth activist and my fellow blogger.

These events reminded me about the arrests and bans on freedom of assembly during Akaev’s time. Is this history repeating?

Parliamentary Elections 2007: how did the day go?

The election day process did not touch me directly as I was on my way to Bishkek and after a 6-hour delay in Moscow airport due to heavy fog in Bishkek.  But I’ve been calling/msning people who were actively involved in documenting the process.  So far a lot of people were not able to cast their vote due to not being registered with their election constituency. It took hours to go to court and get their constitutional right secured. One of neweurasia active bloggers who is also a youth liberal activist spent couple of hours trying to get to vote as well.  

I also got feedback from interpreters working with the OSCE monitoring mission in Kara-Balta. As I am writing this post, some of them are pressued by the local election committees not to translate everything that is happening during the ballot count.

The last parliamentary elections brought about a drastic change in power and provided Kyrgyzstan with same-sex parliament (as it is said in Russian).  These elections came unexpected but brought about a ‘democratic’ quota which should ensure representation. The elections as usual (see reports from 1995, 2000, 2005) went with a lot of violations, yet few election results will be questioned. I would say that it’s going to be some 70-80% voting for Ak Jol and then 5-10 % for other parties with SDPK, ArNamys, Ata Meken being in top 3 following Ak Jol. Will this mean that women/young people/non-Kyrgyz make it to parliament and will have a significant representation? We will see. The Russian elections showed that Put(t)in(g) your name on the ballot and winning a seat does not mean that a person actually counted on being in the parliament. Maybe putting names of the pop stars on the ballots will help win elections… Dima Bilan for Ak Jol, for example. Interesting ways to get democratic decision-making to work.

Witch-hunting: Criminal case against Edil Baisalov

Catholic countries eliminate the history of the catholic church’s fight against women aka witch-hunting and inquisition. Hunting down people whom the dominating structures cannot explain or understand is a basis of authoritarian and patriarchical power. Right now Kyrgyz authorities started a witch hunt for Edil Baisalov who has not been writing on his blog since 4 December and is accused of making confidential ballot forms public by publishing them on his blog. The news agencies are dissemintating information about Baisalov trip to Almaty as a sign of escaping the justice.  Head of Kyrgyz state human rights commission Tursunbek Akunov’s reacted particularly strange. He said that ‘real patriots do not leave the country in times like this’.   Tursunbek used to have Baisalov’s solidarity when he was on hunger strike in his opposition times.  There are also reactions from political parties supporting the decision of Central Election Commission to deregister Baisalov and ask his party to pay for the 2 million destroyed ballots.

24.kg news agency is full of ‘news’ citing anonymous sources in Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan about Baisalov leaving Kyrgyzstan to ask for asylum in the embassies of different countries.  

Edil himself is quoted by Akipress saying that he went to Almaty to spend time with his friends over the weekend.  

Mistrust in Kyrgyz Central Election Commission

The Cental Election Commission continues its crusade for limiting the number of potential MPs. Some parties remain loyal to the ‘big sister’ and some unite with NGOs to express their mistrust in Commission’s actions.  Some parties support CEC in its decision to deregister Edil Baisalov an action that only a court may make decisions about).

It’s a pity that the system remains the same. Clon blogs, new presidential parties with 90% supporting them, deregistering candidates half way through, show trials. Will the new parliament (those who make it) shake up the system? 

Kyrgyz parties finalizing election party lists and complaining

Some Kyrgyz parties already finalized their party lists. It’s interesting to look at the lists from the diversity perspective. The 5-name list of opposition Ar Namys (Dignity) party, for example, includes a Kyrgyz woman – Bodosh Mamyrova – and one man with a Russian last name Valeriy Dil. Ar Namys notes that out of 100 candidates on their party list 48% are women and 40% represent different ethnic groups.

 Ata Meken (Homeland) party also has Russian Tatiana Ponomaryova (deputy chair of Bishkek city council) and one Russian man on their 5-name party list.

Meanwhile, youth political organizations are complaining that there are very few female leaders among them. These organizations might be uniting to ensure that youth’s views are represented not only in declarative party lists but also in the parliament.

There are some worries circulated in the media that the party lists will not get the minorities into the parliament.

I am closely following the situation and will be writing updates about it.