United States helped Kyrgyz pro-democracy programs

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Sunday, April 3, 2005

Shortly before parliamentary elections were held in Kyrgyzstan, an opposition-run newspaper ran photographs of a palace under construction for since-deposed president Askar Akayev. This newspaper received grants from and was printed on a printing press financed by the US government.

The US government itself confirms this. In fact, nearly one year ago in May 2004, Lorne Craner, US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor revealed:

The US has been financing pro-democracy programs in Kyrgyzstan under the FREEDOM Support Act of 1992.

We did a project recently... in Kyrgyzstan where there had only ever been one printing press. We funded the operation of another printing press there so that newspapers that were once unable to print day by day -- due to censorship and lacks of facilities -- are now able to print much more often, basically every day now.

Kyrgyzstan became the nation with the highest per-capita foreign assistance level in central Asia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Most of the money came from the US, under the FREEDOM Support Act, passed in 1992 to help former Soviet republics in transition. Money ear-marked for Kyrgyz pro-democracy programs totaled about $13.3 million dollars last year.

According to a US State Department statement, the programs receiving the money "focus on improving political processes and accountability of government institutions, strengthening civil society and public advocacy, and supporting independent media."

Deposed president Askar Akayev accused the US of plotting to topple him.

Akayev, in an interview with RIA Novosti, said that the opposition which had taken over the government in Kyrgyzstan was supported "with financial and technical support from the USA."

As proof, he cited a report which was posted on the Internet and attributed to the US ambassador in Kyrgyzstan. "The scenario was carried out to a tee. In it he writes that president Akayev has to be toppled, removed. And because the country is key, a neighbor of China, with a Russian [military] base, it's necessary to increase influence there."

The New York Times described this report as "crudely forged" and Kyrgyzstan's new leaders have pledged to keep both the US and Russian military bases in the country and maintain friendly diplomatic relations with Russia.


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