Former Soviet Union republics keep getting more and more isolated from each other
While Moscow conducts active consultations pertaining to the establishment of the new Union of Four, Central Asian countries keep breaking off relations with each other, although they were considered friendly nations just a short time ago. Furthermore, one may say that those countries do their best to become as much separated as possible. They are even ready to arrange mine fields on state borders.
This was discussed last week at a regular session of the Legislative Assembly of the Kyrgyzstan parliament. Deputy Tashbolot Baltabayev said at the session that people keep dying in the south of Kyrgyzstan – they are killed with the mines that Uzbekistan frontier guards place there. The last incident like that took place seven kilometers off the border settlement of Chon-Gara. Kyrgyz peasant Anvar Shamshiyev went to take his cow out to the nearest pasture, and was killed with a mine that he stepped on. As the preliminary investigation showed, he was killed on the territory of his own country. The opposite side, the republic of Uzbekistan, believes that the Kyrgyz man was killed on the territory of Uzbekistan. As Uzbekistan officials claimed, the republic protected its territory with the help of mine fields.
It is very hard to settle the dispute down at present moment. There is actually no state border between the two republics. Both Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan acknowledged only 690 kilometers of the separation line. The remaining 710 kilometers are still questionable. The republics have been conducting negotiations regarding the territory for many years, virtually throughout the whole independent period that former Soviet republic obtained after the USSR collapsed. There has not been much progress achieved, though.
The situation exacerbated a lot after 1999, when the republic of Kyrgyzstan was attacked by the gunmen of Uzbekistan’s Islamic Movement. This Afghanistan-based armed group of guerrillas dreams about the establishment of the Fergana Caliphate – the state that would be grounded on the Islamic Shariat law. Guerrillas attempted to penetrate on the territory of Uzbekistan via the Batkensk region of Kyrgyzstan. Border guards and Southern troops of the Kyrgyz Army stopped them from achieving their goal. However, small groups of armed separatists reportedly managed to make their way on the territory of the neighboring country. This made Uzbekistan strengthen its border defense. However, it turned out that it was a totally single-handed process, without any consultations with neighboring Kyrgyzstan. Mines were placed even around the Sokh enclave, which is located solely on the territory of Kyrgyzstan. Spokesman for the General Headquarters of Kyrgyzstan Armed Forces, Tairbek Madymarov, said at the session that the situation was complicated with the fact that Uzbekistan does not want to hand over its mine fields maps, not even the maps of those fields, which were made as an anti-terrorist protection. Uzbekistan uses them for showing pressure on Kyrgyzstan during negotiations on the border issue. Military men will not be able to secure pastures and fields of the Batkensk region of Kyrgyzstan without those maps.
In the meantime, the number of mine victims has already reached dozens of people. The Batkensk regional administration evaluated the damage in the sum of several millions of dollars and presented the bill to its neighbors. Needless to mention that this makes the situation on the border of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan even more tense. Conflicts and clashes get more and more frequent there. More than thirty of them occurred last year. There was an incident, when border guards shot a Kyrgyzstan man just because they thought that the man crossed the border. Yet, the investigation proved that the man was walking along the disputable area.
Such statements are unfortunately typical not for the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border only. Residents of Kyrgyzstan’s southern areas are basically deprived of an opportunity to sell their goods in Uzbekistan. Tanks can be seen on the border with another Asian republic of Turkmenistan. This gives a reason to believe that the isolation tendency gathers steam in Central Asia. Politics exerts very tough pressure on economy there. It is the population that suffers from that first and foremost.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov