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Presidential spokesman posts letter of Sadyr Japarov to U.S. Secretary of State

The presidential spokesman Askat Alagozov posted the response of Sadyr Japarov to the letter of the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Facebook.

Recall, Antony Blinken sent a letter to Sadyr Japarov, expressing concern about the draft law on amendments to the Law on Non-Profit Organizations, which is under consideration by the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan. On February 9, Foreign Minister of Kyrgyzstan Jeenbek Kulubaev handed over to U.S. Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic Lesslie Viguerie a reply letter from the Head of State Sadyr Japarov to Antony Blinken.

Sadyr Japarov confirmed receipt of a letter from Antony Blinken dated January 17, 2024. He expressed gratitude for the high assessment of the C5+1 summit held in New York last September on the sidelines of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly and the willingness to work together to promote common priorities of cooperation in multilateral and bilateral formats.

At the same time, I have to note with regret that the content of your letter has signs of interference in the internal affairs of our state.

Sadyr Japarov

He explained his position. The head of state agreed with the words of the U.S. Secretary of State that the civil society of the Kyrgyz Republic has long been the strongest in the region and a key part of democracy in the country. The President emphasized that the aspiration for justice and freedom is the genetic code of the people of the Kyrgyz Republic.

«Regarding your concerns on the draft Law on foreign agents (in fact, this is a draft Law of the Kyrgyz Republic «On Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of the Kyrgyz Republic (the Law of the Kyrgyz Republic «On Non-Profit Organizations» and the Criminal Code of the Kyrgyz Republic»), I would like to note the following.

This draft Law was initiated by a group of members of the Jogorku Kenesh (Parliament) of the Kyrgyz Republic and provides amendments to the current Law of the Kyrgyz Republic «On Non-Profit Organizations», adopted back in October 1999. Currently, the above-mentioned draft Law has been adopted by the Parliament in the first reading. The purpose of the draft Law is to clarify and streamline the activities of non-governmental/non-profit organizations operating in the Kyrgyz Republic,» the letter reads.

Today, there are tens of thousands of non-governmental/non-profit organizations that are successfully working throughout Kyrgyzstan, addressing many problems that previously the state had neither the will nor the desire to deal with.

At the same time, it should be recognized that some non-governmental/non-profit organizations receive funding from abroad, and not only from the USA and EU countries.

President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov

«Naturally, there is a problem directly related to the protection of the legitimate interests of the Kyrgyz state — how much state control can be and should be over the activity of mass media and non-governmental organizations funded by foreign states or with foreign participation. It is about that the Kyrgyz state, as befits its status, intends to control where the money comes from for these non-governmental/non-profit organizations, how, for what purposes, by whom and where it is to be spent. The draft Law, initiated by members of the Jogorku Kenesh and adopted in the first reading, introduces into the current Law of the Kyrgyz Republic «On Non-Profit Organizations» provisions related to activities of a non-profit organization performing the functions of a foreign representative and provides for the maintenance by an authorized state body of a Register of non-profit organizations performing the functions of a foreign representative.

Herewith it should be noted that the concept of the draft Law initiated by members of the Kyrgyz Parliament is close to the current Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) adopted in the USA in 1938,» the Head of State writes.

«As we know, FARA provides for the status of a foreign agent not only for mass media, but also for other legal entities and individuals. Violations — delay in registration or refusal to register are fraught with not only administrative, but also criminal penalties. In this regard, the question cannot help but arise: Why is it possible for you, but not for us? Mr Blinken, over the past three years, a lot has changed in Kyrgyzstan and is changing for the better,» the letter says.

An objective international assessment of the efforts of the country’s leadership inspires optimism. So, if we are currently 45th in the world out of 166 countries in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we intend to be among the top 30 countries by 2030.

The president notes that changes for the better are also felt firsthand by the compatriots, who now have hope for a better future, they begin to earn more, and they have confidence in the future. The state, as it strengthens, intensifies interaction with the civil society. Feedback has been established between the authorities and the people through the People’s Kurultai.

The Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic is trying to solve strategic problems for the economic and social development of the country and society.

«There are many problems that have not been resolved for decades, however, there is a political will and desire to put our state on a trajectory of accelerated development and growth, deep reform of the entire system of public administration, and the desire to make the power accountable to the people. I am, as President and Head of the Executive Power, aimed at an uncompromising fight against corruption, regardless of positions, titles and merits. This is seen and supported by our people, who give their assessment of our efforts. Our international partners also see this,» Sadyr Japarov noted.

Mr Blinken, we welcome and actually support the activities of non-governmental/non-profit organizations, the mass media, including those that have been working with foreign partners for many years, receiving funding from them.

«Our main requirements:

— Compliance with the norms of the Constitution and laws of the Kyrgyz Republic, including the Tax Code;

— Ensuring transparency of activities of non-governmental/non-profit organizations, mass media and their accountability to the tax authorities.

Society and the State must see where, from what foreign sources and for what purposes the funding of this or that non-governmental/non-profit organization is coming from. Our requirements for them are clear and supported in society, fully consistent with both the Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic and our international obligations,» the letter reads.

However, the representatives of the so-called «free mass media and NGOs» in Kyrgyzstan, received with hostility the draft Laws on foreign agents, mass media and non-governmental organizations initiated by state bodies.

President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov

«The draft Laws have caused a storm of indignation on the part of a number mass media and NGOs financed by taxpayers in EU member states and the United States, as they fear to step out of the «shadow» and real tax control by the state. International structures such as the European Union, UNDP, OSCE, USAID, embassies of the European Union and the United States, other donors to Kyrgyz NGOs and mass media, members of the Parliaments and politicians from foreign countries joined in the criticism of the draft Laws. In this regard, as I instructed, the Head of the Legal Support Department of the Administration of the President of the Kyrgyz Republic Mr. M. Ukushov, held a briefing in mid-July 2023 with the U.S. Ambassador Mr. L. Viguerie, as well as with ambassadors of the European Union countries in the Kyrgyz Republic.

At these meetings, the representatives of the Presidential Administration provided comprehensive explanations on all issues that caused concern to embassy representatives, and provided comparative analyzes of draft Laws with international legislation,» the President stressed.

He also told that in the summer of 2023, round tables were held to discuss the draft Laws with the participation of representatives of mass media, non-governmental/non-profit organizations, members of Parliament, representatives of the Presidential Administration, and the Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic. At these events representatives of government bodies also provided explanations on all issues related to the draft Laws and their compliance with international legislation.

In accordance with the norms of the Constitution and laws of the Kyrgyz Republic, the state does not interfere and does not intend to interfere in the statutory activities of a non-governmental/non-profit organization or mass media.

«Therefore, it is not clear to me how the above-mentioned draft Law, if adopted by the Parliament, could jeopardize, as you write, «your citizens’ access to vital services such as health care and education through programs implemented by non-governmental organizations with the support of the US government and international partners»? The criticized draft Laws are based on generally accepted principles and norms of international law, which proclaim the permissibility of restricting by law the freedom to receive and impart information and ideas if this is necessary in the interests of national security or public order, for the purpose of preventing crime, to protect health and morality, to protect the reputation or rights of others persons:

— European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Article 10);

— Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 29, paragraph 2);

— International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (clause 3 of article 19 and article 20);

— International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 10); Declaration on mass communication media and Human Rights of Council of Europe (1970) and others.

I would like to emphasize that in accordance with the Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic, the rights and freedoms of a person and a citizen, including the right to freedom of speech, the right to association, might be limited by the Constitution and laws in order to protect national security, public order, protection of health and morality of the population, protection of the rights and freedoms of other persons (Part 2 of Article 23). That is, in this right we are no different from the United States or any other country in the world,» Sadyr Japarov writes in his letter.

At the same time, the President notes that Antony Blinken as the Head of the Foreign Service of the United States of America shared his concerns about the above-mentioned draft Law, based on unreliable information from certain non-governmental/non-profit organizations operating in Kyrgyzstan.

Sadyr Japarov believes that this did not allow to form an objective picture of the real situation with human rights and freedoms in Kyrgyzstan, including the right to association.

In fact, the vast majority of non-governmental/non-profit organizations work decently and honestly in our country.

Sadyr Japarov

«Only a small but very vocal group of these structures funded by foreign states and their individual representatives are a source of unreliable information for their grantors. Besides, the same non-governmental structures often disseminate false and unreliable information among people, leading to lawsuits by the victims or the defamed. As a result of court cases, the disseminators of false information are often forced to petition for reconciliation with the plaintiffs. And there are many such cases in the courts,» the President writes.

Sadyr Japarov also noted that over the past three decades, a «layer» of non-governmental/non-profit organizations that receive funding from abroad has appeared in the country (in Kyrgyz society they are called «grant eaters»), whose leaders have turned them, in fact, into «family enterprises», engaged in «sawing off» the money coming from foreign sponsors. He added that this has been written about many times in the mass media of the country and stated that if necessary, Kyrgyzstan is ready to provide Antony Blinken with relevant information.

The Head of State also noted that such unreliable sources speculate on their «difficulties» and «persecutions,» which, in turn, force sponsoring foreign structures to follow their lead, engage in wastefulness, wasting money of taxpayers in the United States and EU countries.

In this regard, Sadyr Japarov propose to conduct an audit of the use of funds by non-governmental/non-profit organizations funded by U.S. government organizations — at least for the last 10 years.

«I hope that you, distinguished Secretary of State, based on my above-mentioned clarifications and guarantees, will be able to dispel the fears of «some American implementing partners» so that they will continue their activities in the Kyrgyz Republic. Taking this opportunity, I have the honor to invite you, dear Mr. Blinken, to visit our country and witness that human rights and freedoms in Kyrgyzstan are reliably protected by the Constitution and laws of the Kyrgyz Republic. I am sure that you will always find reliable friends in Kyrgyzstan. I also want to emphasize that we stand for equal cooperation and are ready to work together with all countries and international partners, including the United States. My only request — not to interfere in the internal affairs of our country,» Sadyr Japarov concluded.