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Predictability of Kyrgyzstan. Expert on results of Jeenbekov's visit to Moscow

Photo Oleg Glazunov

The Russian expert community continues to analyze the results of the first working visit of the new president of Kyrgyzstan, Sooronbai Jeenbekov, to Moscow.

Experts note: during the election campaign, he staked on the fact that due to the working experience in various positions «he knows the processes much better than others and understands the concerns of the population of the country.» The new president of Kyrgyzstan also stated that he would continue the policy of his predecessor Almazbek Atambayev, and Russia would remain the main strategic partner.

Associate Professor of the Department of Political Science and Sociology of the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics Oleg Glazunov told 24.kg news agency about the perspectives of Kyrgyz-Russian relations after the change of power on November 24, 2017.

Unchanged course

«It is symbolic that Sooronbai Jeenbekov made his first visit as president to Russia. At the meeting in Moscow, the leaders of the two states discussed the entire range of bilateral relations. At the same time, Vladimir Putin noted that the countries have common approaches in various spheres — from the economy to security, and this partnership is successfully developing. In addition, this year is the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Kyrgyzstan and Russia and the ratification of the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation,» Oleg Glazunov said.

Russian-Kyrgyz relations are developing quite dynamically and at all levels — presidential, inter-parliamentary and interdepartmental ones.

Russia is one of the largest trading partners of Kyrgyzstan, the trade turnover between the two countries is almost $ 2 billion. In addition, Bishkek is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and the country has Russian air base.

The population of the republic has a positive attitude towards Russia. The bulk of Kyrgyz citizens speak Russian, and about 2,000 students go to study at the Russia’s higher education institutions each year. Experts call the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University one of the best universities in the country.

Concern remains

Of course, it is difficult to ignore the problem of the fight against terrorism, which has become a real threat to the modern world and Russia as well as Kyrgyzstan are making great efforts to fight against it. In August 2016 an explosion occurred at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Bishkek. The terrorist attack was committed by a member of the Islamic Movement of Eastern Turkestan.

There are no threats to state security yet, but there are many so-called sleeping cells of radical Islam in Kyrgyzstan, various religious centers have appeared. Madrasahs are being opened everywhere, new mosques are being built. They are already about 2,000 of them, whereas in Soviet times there were not more than 50.

Oleg Glazunov

Today, practical models of combating international terrorism and radical Islamism are being actively discussed between the two countries, especially in connection with the explosive situation in the Middle East and Afghanistan. And the Russian military base gives Bishkek the necessary security guarantees, which it badly needs.

Earlier, Vladimir Putin stressed: as soon as Bishkek announces that its own Armed Forces are sufficiently efficient, the Russian airbase will leave Kyrgyzstan.

Oleg Glazunov

Support for the Kyrgyz economy

As for economic relations, the Kyrgyz Republic is the most profitable and predictable trading partner for Russia, unlike many CIS countries. According to experts, the Russian Federation accounts for one fifth of the total turnover of the republic.

Kyrgyzstan exports to Russia mainly textiles and clothing, agricultural products. Moscow, in its turn, supplies Bishkek with food products, metallurgical goods, oil products and equipment.

Kyrgyzstan regularly receives free financial assistance from Russia. According to the Russian Ambassador to the Kyrgyz Republic Andrey Krutko, only in 2017 Russia allocated a grant of about $ 30 million to support the economy.

In addition, the Russian president signed an agreement between the countries on duty-free supplies of crude oil to the republic, which will allow Kyrgyz processing plants to operate at their full capacity. About 200 joint ventures work in the republic as well as the Russian-Kyrgyz Development Fund.

According to experts from the Center for Advanced Studies, it is Russia that provides the largest support to the economy of Kyrgyzstan. The volume of aggregate aid to the country exceeded almost $ 3 billion.

It is necessary to separately say about remittances from labor migrants from Kyrgyzstan, which since the beginning of 2017 amounted to almost $ 433 million and in comparison with the last year grew by 67 percent. In addition, due to the fact that more than 700,000 Kyrgyz citizens work in Russia, the unemployment rate in the republic has significantly decreased.

Why Moscow should not relax

It is possible that the political elite of Kyrgyzstan prefers to establish economic relations with Saudi Arabia, the European Union or the United States, but these countries are far from Kyrgyzstan, and the logistics problem is unlikely to be resolved in the near future. Bishkek’s interest in the Arabian monarchies is most likely caused by an attempt to find additional external funding for the republic’s economy.

But in the end, Russia remains the main partner for Kyrgyzstan, and Bishkek relations with Moscow in the coming years will be the most multifaceted and multilevel.

Relations with other countries will depend on various kinds of objective conditions and geographical features.

But the Russian political elite should not forget: if Russia can not fully provide economic assistance to Kyrgyzstan, the republic will reach out for other, more affluent countries.

Oleg Glazunov

  • Plekhanov Russian University of Economics is the first economic university of Russia, which for 110 years has been training specialists in business and economics. It has four stars out of five possible in QS Stars University Rating, it is the 86th in the QS rating in the BRICS countries, and it is among the top 150 best universities in the world for graduate employment and is in the list of 22 Russian universities recognized as the best for foreign students to get education.