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Media/Corruptionists: who is to blame for bad image of Kyrgyzstan?

29/10/14 08:58, Bishkek – 24.kg news agency, news agency

Why investors don't come to Kyrgyzstan? The authorities are seriously concerned with this question. Seemingly the government officials present the country this way and that. And a foreigner visiting the KR as a tourist or as a part of the official delegation admires our country. But no one wants to invest money. More precisely, wants, but afraid. The reasons, however, are known - here, and from the outside: widespread corruption, extortion, kickbacks, impotence of security forces against organized crime, political instability...

However, according to the Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, "for the image of our country, I must say thanks to the journalists." That's what the President expressed the day before during a discussion of the investment attractiveness of the country at a meeting of the National Council for Sustainable Development of the KR.

The press service hastened to clarify that the quote was: "For the fact that Kyrgyzstan has such an image, we need to say "thanks" to our journalists too, not only to corruptionists." Bureaucrats of the White House claim: Almazbek Atambayev wasn't referring to all the media and all the journalists, and the so-called "ushaktolog" (who spreads rumors), operating with gossip, rumors, arguments, spreading misinformation. Of course, hardly the head of state would lump under a general umbrella. But such a statement, he actually put the media in a row with thieving officials, because of whom (the Prime Minister Dzhoomart Otorbayev also acknowledged this at the meeting) all investors leave the KR.

24.kg news agency decided to ask the respondents, who is to blame, that Kyrgyzstan has such tainted image.

Taalaibek Koichumanov, Head of the Secretariat of the Council for Business Development and Investment:

- Who is to blame, I can't say. This question is quite complex, everyone makes, so to say, its contribution from both the government agencies and the public in general. For some indicators, you can't bite off more than you can chew and close the gap with other countries. But there are factors that are associated with the control process throughout the enterprise activity: many barriers for business, the growth of the shadow economy. This is the problem of the state. These issues can and must be addressed if we want to develop and improve the investment environment.

There are also moments with international litigation related to business corruption. This is the specific things that destroy our image. And the fact that we have loud lawsuits is also undesirable for the image.

When talking about a favorable investment climate for business such indicators as the simple system of customs and tax administration, and the absence of unreasonable and endless inspections are very important. Ease of doing business and the guarantee is also very important. It is necessary to have no obstacles, and have access to the infrastructure, investors should be protected and feel secure. Equally important is the construction of a dialogue between business and government, so that we can bring your "voice" to the authorities and decisions to be made taking into account the views of the business.

Adelya Laisheva, program director of Internews network:

- I can say that journalists really affect the country's image. One Armenian and Azerbaijani came to the seminar once. So, after reading and watching the local media, they were afraid to come here. And were surprised that there is no a yurt with camels and people are very peaceful and kind.

In Kyrgyzstan journalists rarely speak and write about something good. Just a story about something good we call advertising somehow. It's more complicated to tell about something good. I was at a meeting in Talas. There, people in villages rejoice a new road length of 2 km, are happy for a tree which has five varieties of apples. They build gyms themselves. If the question is: "Who is to blame for the bad image of the KR - journalists or officials?", then everyone.

Begaim Usenova, head of the Institute of Mediapolis:

- The role of media in combating corruption - through investigative journalism to publicize corruption. All this is necessary to ensure that the punishment for corruption become inevitable. Unfortunately, in our country the material of a journalist, publicity - often the only punishment for corrupt officials. Here is the problem.

All people are different and have different perceptions of our image. If, for example, the police detain foreigners without any apparent reason, why can't the media write about it? Or, for example, if the physician makes the operation in the light of a mobile phone? Journalists should write about it. For someone our country - an island of democracy, but it is subjective. It is necessary to write about corruption, otherwise how to fight it?

Dmitry Orlov, an expert:

- The President doesn't like what journalists write about corrupt officials? So it's wonderful! Because journalists really need to stop writing about corruption. They should write about the bribe-takers, embezzlers, "kickbacks". See how many synonyms there in Russian?! Yes, and Kyrgyz language also has a lot of words denoting such a thing as a bribe. A "corruption" - it is not our word. So let's stop using it.

As for the relations between the image of the country, its authorities and the media, an American publisher, I remember, said: "Once you start to write something that everybody likes, you stop being a journalist. From this moment you are working in show business." It is clear that the authorities don't like when they write about their affairs in a negative tone. They want to be loved and the shortcomings to be unnoticed. And when journalists start writing about some regular "failure" of the powers, those are irritated. Although the power in this case should be able to, as people say, "take a punch" and respond appropriately.

Generally speaking, the press - a mirror of society. Except for purely propagandistic media that earn money by slinging mud to the republic. And in the mirror, as the saying goes, you can't blame the mirror for your ugly face. It is not journalists who put forward idiotic initiative in Parliament? It's not journalists' fault that roads and laws are bad? It's not journalists who scare away investors and allow the country's outrage? Sometimes I listen to our officials and deputies and involuntarily recalling the classic question: "Why such a small country has such a big misfortune?".

Gulnara Uskenbaeva, the President of the Suppliers Association:

- Honestly, I would not say on the world stage that corruptionists or journalists are to be blamed for bad image of Kyrgyzstan. As saying goes, the fish rots from the head. Therefore, the state bodies should take on this honorable mission of responsibility for what is happening. On the other hand, the real problem is much deeper. We now have problems with morals in society. The general trend is that stealing is not a shame. It is not the blame of journalists, and the state leaders, who should lead by example. Many criticize the Soviet Union. However, it also had good moments. Since childhood we were taught that stealing is bad. Perhaps, if the party bosses steal or enjoy the benefits, they were ashamed. Now the situation is different.

Probably, and it is blame of deputies to some extent. They are often involved in various scandals. Naturally, this has a negative impact on image of the country. And much more influence than some kind of journalistic articles. If journalists write about something, they do not lie. They just present the facts. I do not think that image of the republic will win if corrupt officials arrested and journalists keep silent about it. Therefore, I believe that Parliament should share with the president and the government the burden of responsibility for what is happening in the state.

Nuripa Mukanova, the chairman of the Anticorruption Business Council:

- Of course, in this situation, corruptionists are responsible. If we consider image of the country, it must be admitted that at the international level it is very little positive information about Kyrgyzstan. Even the positive things that exist in Kyrgyzstan, not covered in the media of other countries. They possess the information that Kyrgyzstan - is the country of revolutions, the economy is bad, high levels of corruption. Journalists write the materials, relying on studies and surveys of international institutions. Another source of information - fair investors. They come in the republic, face corruption and, of course, talk about it later.

- What should we do to change the situation?

- We should give let drop by drop, but positive information about what is happening in the country. For example, talk about how the government fulfills its promises for protection of investors in the Kyrgyz Republic. Let it be 1-2 messages. But this kind of information is more trustworthy than just promises. The Cabinet often makes promises. This has all become accustomed. As well as it can not fulfill its obligation. The announcement on fulfilled promises will state about the progress of work.

Kairat Osmonoliyev, the Chairman of the Expert Council of the coordination meeting of law enforcement bodies:

- What does investor need? Stable economy, strong legal system, independent and fair justice system. It represents a certain image of the country. Our country doesn't look very good in the international ratings of investment attractiveness. Recent arbitrations only confirm this. Only in Moscow Arbitration Court, we have already lost a total of more than $145 million. Analyzing all these problem cases, it is concluded that investing in our country is dangerous. It's too risky venture. Besides, political instability in Kyrgyzstan influence on it. For 10 years we had already changed two power regimes. All of this represents unsustainable development, if we ever can show development at all. I would call this rather turbulence. In such circumstances, a state can receive only those who are willing to take risks. But such is not enough. We are a small country with a great history of a bad investment. What sane investor would like to invest money here?

All these problems appeared long time ago. There is no uniform policy in the justice system. There is evidence of blatant impunity. But, on the other hand, investors come to our country, just make a plan of departure. They make agreements in advance so that you can later win the case in international arbitration. And we have very few lawyers, who are versed in international law. Only journalists find such facts and publicize. Political elite has very few people with  public thinking. A lot of marginal and random people.

And what should we do?

-You can not say that the situation is so catastrophic. You can tell the president "thank you" for declared fight against corruption. Several high-profile criminal cases were initiated. Another thing is that they are not brought to its logical conclusion, that is, till the compensation for damages. No single approach to allegations of corruption. Someone is rotting in prison, and someone released for medical treatment abroad. To solve the problem, we should uniform the policy without privileges.

Sergei Osavolyuk, the project manager on improvement of investment climate in Kyrgyzstan of the International Finance Corporation (IFC):

- I diplomatically do not agree with the head of state in the sense that journalists are responsible for bad image in international arena of Kyrgyzstan. They merely reflect the reality of current situation in the country. Certainly, there are journalists who can sometimes be wrong. But it does not mean that they are to blame for everything. Journalists - people who only cover the current situation. I do not agree with the fact that Kyrgyzstan has bad image in the international arena. Yes, it could be better. However, one can't say that it is absolutely bad. There are some drawbacks, but there are advantages. As for the benefits, then it is possible to say much. This is quite a liberal economy, good geographical position. There are, of course, shortcomings. Everyone is well aware of them. For example, even those ideas that sounded periodically by the parliamentarians, may affect the mood of investors. Even if the government is not going to support them. In this case I'm talking about the ideas of nationalization or re-privatization of some large objects. Of course, this is not conducive to good image. People read and do not want to risk their money, knowing that tomorrow everything could change.

In addition, there are objective problems. There was progress within the years of independence. But still there are things to manage for the government. This relates primarily to the business environment. And there are many problems. In this direction, there is a positive example. Kyrgyzstan takes one of the first places in the world for easiness of starting businesse. And there are industries where we are on the last place. For example, problems with the banking legislation that need to be simplified, the problem of corruption, the judicial system, the state control. We have made ​​many good laws. However, there are problems with implementation. We see that the law on inspections of economic entities isn't implemented into life in proper form. It primarily affects frequency of inspections. So, do not blame the journalists. Better address the objective problems.

Aziz Abakirov, civic activist:

-For attracting investors to Kyrgyzstan, as a bridegroom on a date, the girl is not enough to be beautiful and pretty, she is to be smart, progressive, fair and, most importantly - honest. Then noble suitors will come, I mean investors, not rogues and charlatans, having in mind not long term relationship and immediate benefits.

URL: http://eng.24.kg/perekrestok/172932-news24.html
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«When we ran in the elections, we said that would even get the moon and the sun from the sky ».
MP Kamchybek Joldoshbayev at a meeting of Parliament, February 2, 2017.

«What have you done besides sale of donkeys to China?».
Deputy Ryskeldi Mombekov to the head of State Inspectorate for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Safety Kalysbek Zhumakanov at a meeting of Parliament, February 1, 2017.

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