ROAR: “Authorities in Kyrgyzstan not in control of the situation”

The events in Kyrgyzstan may present a test for the ability of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to settle conflicts in the post-Soviet space.

The CSTO on June 14 worked out a

plan of first-level measures

to ease the tension in Kyrgyzstan. However, the peacekeeping contingent or rapid reaction forces seem unlikely to be used to quell the disorder in the republic.

President Dmitry Medvedev, who has described the situation in Kyrgyzstan as “intolerable,” does not rule out that a new meeting of the CSTO Security Council secretaries will be summoned or the CSTO countries heads may meet to take necessary steps. The CSTO comprises Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Russia and Uzbekistan.

As it stands, Russian peacekeepers will not intervene in the situation. The interim government may expect only material help from the CSTO. The organization’s Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha, during a meeting with the president, made it clear that the issue of sending troops is not on the agenda at present. The law enforcement agencies in Kyrgyzstan “have enough forces today, but they do not have enough equipment, helicopters, ground transport . . . even fuel,” he said.

Chairman of the interim government of the republic Roza Otunbaeva on June 13 asked Russia military assistance. Ousted Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has also spoken in favor of sending external troops to his country.

“According to the CSTO charter, a decision on conducting a peacekeeping operation on a territory of member states is made by presidents, taking into account national legislation and as a response to a request of a state,” Vedomosti daily said in an article entitled “Russians are not coming.”

“Otunbaeva’s request would allow [the CSTO] to apply a peacekeeping mechanism, but nobody wants to interfere into this situation,” Vladimir Zharikhin, deputy director of the Institute of the CIS Countries, told the paper. Sending a military contingent is a last resort, he noted.

Such decisions should be taken by a consensus, and no president of seven CSTO countries should oppose it, said political scientist Aleksey Vlasov. Now opinions of analysts have divided, he told the daily. “There were those who hoped that the CSTO would be able to overcome disagreements and decide to send troops, but this did not happen,” he said.

When the previous serious clashes between different ethnic groups happened in 1990, two Russian paratrooper divisions were sent to southern Kyrgyzstan, the paper noted. This time, the Russian Defense Ministry sent 150 paratroopers to protect the Kant military base and other facilities.

There is no clear understanding among observers about who could have masterminded the disorder in the republic. Not only supporters of Bakiyev, but also several clans, including criminal ones, may be behind the clashes, director of the Kyrgyz Institute of Political Analysis, Sergey Masaulov, told the paper.

“The interim government has broken the balance of power created under Bakiyev, and now [these clans] are manipulating ethnic minorities,” the analyst noted.

Otunbaeva said the disorder could have been organized by enemies of the interim government by the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) that took place in Tashkent on June 11. These forces intended to demonstrate the inability of the interim government to control the situation, she noted.

However, many observers agree with such assessments. “The events in South Kyrgyzstan have demonstrated that the new authorities do not control the situation in the country,” Kommersant daily said. “Otunbaeva has recognized it, asking for assistance,” the paper noted.

“Back in May, the interim government demonstrated confidence, and any mention about assistance from abroad was swept aside,” the daily said. But in the end of the last week Otunbaeva asked for help.

First Bishkek asked Washington to interfere, but it “allegedly refused to help because of the ‘reset’ of relations with Moscow,” Kommersant said, citing the US media.

“The Russian authorities also refused to react to Otunbaeva’s request immediately,” the daily said. “Moscow has preferred a collective responsibility to solving Kyrgyz problems alone. On the initiative of President Medvedev, who is now presiding in the CSTO council, secretaries of security councils of the organization met for extraordinary consultations in Moscow.”

The CSTO charter allows its member states to render assistance to one of them if this country is facing an external aggression, the paper said. “Thus, in order to send a CSTO peacekeeping contingent to Kyrgyzstan, it is necessary to amend the charter, but it may take a lot of time.”

Other factors also hinder the CSTO participation in the settlement conflict in Kyrgyzstan. “The introduction of military contingents of all the member states to Kyrgyzstan is impossible,” believes Aleksey Malashenko of the Moscow Carnegie Center. “Complicated relationships between the members of this organization rules out this option,” he told Kommersant.

“Just imagine how, for instance, Tajiks and Kazakhs will separate Uzbeks and Kyrgyz people,” the analyst asked. “This will only aggravate the existing conflicts,” he noted. “The CSTO member states may delegate their powers to Russia, which could organize a peacekeeping mission alone,” he added.

Theoretically, peacekeepers could stop disorder quickly enough, believes Leonid Ivashov, president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems. “During the latest military exercises, a scenario was worked out according to which troops landed in a hot spot and fulfilled their task in three days,” he told Trud daily.

Although the troops fought “terrorists” during those exercises, Ivashov recalled successful Russian peacekeeping experience on the territory of the Commonwealth of Independent States. “Moscow managed to help Tajikistan in the mid-1990s to end a civil war, and it is still maintaining peace in [the breakaway Moldovan] Transdniestr Republic,” he said.

In addition to Transdniestr, “Russian peacekeepers are deployed on the UN mandate in Liberia, Burundi, Sudan, Chad and Central African Republic,” the daily said.

Sergey Borisov,
Russian Opinion and Analysis Review, RT