President of Kyrgyzstan met with the heads of the leading mass media of the country and representatives of the foreign media accredited in the republic before the upcoming Press and Information Day. Sooronbai Jeenbekov and his administration do not indulge the public with publicity. Therefore, the people were waiting for this meeting, hoping to discern the prospects for the country and logic of the actions of the captain of our «ship» through its optics.
From hope to disappointment
The first meeting in the same format and in almost the same composition was held on March 6 last year. However, the general political background was different then. Sooronbai Jeenbekov had taken office three months ago at that time, confrontation with Almazbek Atambayev had not yet become so tough and has not reached the public level, the public was in a state of expectation of changes. After all, the new head of state favorably differed from his predecessor even in his manner of speaking. The power was gaining legitimacy, Sooronbai Jeenbekov’s personal rating was growing, and the so-called «honeymoon period» of the presidency seemed endless.
It is obvious today that it was a mistake to expect from Sooronbai Jeenbekov announcement of a course of impudent reforms, including unpopular, but necessary ones.
Announcement of the Year of Regional Development and Digitalization for two consecutive years does not count. This only speaks of the sluggishness of power. The deadlines had to be extended, because neither the government nor the local officials had coped with the task assigned to them by the president in 2018.
Sooronbai Jeenbekov’s personal qualities demonstrate that he is more a conservative than a reformer.
It is still difficult to write in the announced anti-corruption campaign as an achievement. There are too many complaints from the medium and small businesses — the main engine of the economy of the republic. Such a long-awaited fight against corruption was limited to the fact that the security forces are nightmarizing business — replenish our deposit account, or there will be a criminal case. Our laws, including fiscal ones, are spelled out in such a way that any person can be charged with violations.
Amid this «struggle» entrusted to the security forces, the almost weekly press releases about bribe-takers from government agencies show us only one thing — its imitation.
Sooronbai Jeenbekov is not Almazbek Atambayev, of course. And this is good. He seeks to avoid open conflicts. But in acute situations, he prefers to take a wait-and-see attitude.
That is, like in the wisdom attributed by various sources to either the Chinese military leader Sun Tzu or the philosopher Confucius, he prefers to sit on the riverbank and wait for the corpse of an enemy to drift by.
Society turned out not to be ready for a long wait. The country’s population has already formed a clear tendency to rejuvenation. The new generation, who are eager for changes associated primarily with improving the quality of life, is snapping on the heels of the old generation. Therefore, voices disappointed by the conservatism of the power sound more and more loudly.
A lot of words about nothing
The president’s meeting with heads of the mass media lasted more than two hours. We can give proper respect to the press service of Sooronbai Jeenbekov — no «red flags» were shown during the meeting. There were no forbidden topics. Any questions could be asked, even about the Matraimovs, brother Asylbek, and at least about Atambayev.
Sooronbai Jeenbekov, not having any experience in diplomatic service and not being a master of intrigue, deftly avoided direct answers to not the most pleasant questions, skirted contentious issues and careless statements.
«We have to wait,» «let’s wait,» «it will be obvious in two years» ... These were the main points in this dialogue with the media, and it was impossible to break through the skillfully built armor of common phrases.
Summarizing the outcome of the meeting, the state did not hear anything new from its leader, no specifics.
The competent bodies are dealing with the Matraimovs, checks have not yet been completed, the state commission will determine responsibility of the security forces for the failed operation in Koi-Tash. As for the 9-percent election threshold, the president managed to evade an answer, saying that the deputies have put its lowering to 5 percent for public discussion. As for his brothers’ and co-parents-in-law intervention in politics, he said that these were rumors and asked to give facts.
Judging by the views on the most of the mass media websites, materials about the meeting of Sooronbai Jeenbekov with the media did not become the top news. Perhaps, this is due to the fact that the event itself took place on Saturday, and not on a working day. Or maybe the society is just tired of waiting and hoping. Expectations for change have not been transformed into actions for too long.
Sooronbai Jeenbekov will hold a large year-end press conference in December. It will be the second one in his presidential term. The format of the meeting with the leaders of the media, despite its liberality, did not encourage acute issues, because it was held before a professional holiday with a buffet table and the possibility of informal communication with the head of state. The December event does not promise to be loyal to Sooronbai Jeenbekov.
The presidency of Jeenbekov will turn two years in 20 days. He became president on October 15, 2017, and officially took office on November 24. A third of the term is over, and the time has come to «gather stones.»