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BISHKEK (TCA) — The current criminal situation in Kyrgyzstan is of considerable concern among the population, and the relevant state bodies should ensure the proper security of the citizens, Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Sapar Isakov said at a government meeting on January 15. He ordered the Ministry of Internal Affairs to improve the situation by combating organized crime and strengthening preventive measures among minors.

The Prime Minister believes that the introduction of a single automated database of records of crimes, scheduled to be completed by the end of the first quarter of this year, would significantly increase the transparency of the law enforcement bodies. The implementation of the Smart City project will also contribute to increasing the crime detection in the country, he added.

The fight against corruption is among the main goals of the Government’s Taza Koom (Clean Society) program, Isakov said. The Security Council has published reports on corruption risks and plans to dismantle corruption in state bodies. Now independent observers and the media can monitor how government agencies implement these plans.

Customs Service the most corrupt state body

According to First Deputy Prime Minister Askarbek Shadiev, the Kyrgyz Government has drawn up a rating of corrupt state bodies. The results of a survey conducted in 2016 showed that the State Customs Service (SCS) is the most corrupt state body in Kyrgyzstan. The SCS is followed by the State Penitentiary Service, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, State Service for Combating Economic Crimes, Ministry of Science and Education, and State Tax Service.

The State Customs Service acknowledged that the system has many corruption risks and created a working group to study them. The agency intends to increase the automation of operation with goods from the moment they enter the border to customs clearance. The automated system will be integrated with the systems of the Transport Ministry, State Registry and State Tax Service. In the case of mutual control by other departments, it is possible to achieve their transparency, the SCS believes.

In 2017, 210 criminal cases on corruption were instituted against five members of parliament, two judges, one employee of the Prosecutor's Office, and four heads of ministries and state departments, the Anti-Corruption Service said.

Despite the intensified fight against corruption, Kyrgyzstan’s citizens continue to face harassment and money extortion from public servants, the Anti-Corruption Service added.

The analysis revealed several reasons for corruption opportunities including collisions and gaps in legislation, the lack of transparency of procedures at the managerial level, excessive bureaucratic barriers, discretionary and duplicating functions of state bodies, and lack of institutional reforms.

Common areas of corruption inherent in almost every state body have been identified including public procurement, control and licensing, provision of public services, use of budgetary funds, personnel appointment, and state property management.

Fire or arson?

On January 7, the Osminog (Octopus) restaurant was burned down in Bostery village in the Issyk-Kul Province in what could be an arson in which criminal groups could be involved, local media say. The exact causes of the accident will be determined by the investigation, law enforcement authorities say.

A young businessman Askhat, who leased the restaurant, told the Kyrgyz Tuusu daily that in the summer of 2016 several men who introduced themselves as members of an organized criminal group demanded that he pay them money “for working in their territory”. After the tenant refused to pay, they threatened to burn the restaurant. Askhat applied to law enforcement bodies, who detained the extortionists. However, the Pervomai District Court of Bishkek gave them suspended sentences. The tenant believes the criminals set fire to the restaurant to take revenge on him, and to intimidate others.

This issue was discussed recently in the Parliament. According to MP Dastan Bekeshev, in Issyk-Kul (a popular resort area) all entrepreneurs have to pay to organized criminal groups. The MP had raised this issue many times, but there is no result so far. When the MP addressed this issue to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, they advised entrepreneurs to come to police with written statements on money extortions. But people do not write such statements as they fear for their property which could be set on fire, Bekeshev said.

This problem should not be left without attention, because organized criminal groups assess the reaction of the State. If necessary, the State National Security Committee should take part in the investigation, because it concerns the national security, the parliament member believes.

“In 2011, we kicked the organized criminal groups out of the country, they fled, but now they are raising their heads again. We must not keep silent about this. Otherwise, it will not end up well," Bekeshev concluded.

As long as local businesses suffer from the organized crime, especially in the Issyk-Kul province, there is nothing to say about the safety of tourists from the outside, MP Elvira Surabaldieva wrote in social networks. Reports about the organized criminal groups burning a restaurant are not the best PR for tourists intending to visit Lake Issyk-Kul, she wrote.

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