Deputies from Ar-Namys faction Tursunbai Bakir uulu and Nurkamil Madaliev brought up for public discussion a draft law "On Nongovernmental Organizations", which gives the status of "foreign agents" to all NGOs financed from abroad. It caused a lot of controversies in the society.
Recently, President Almazbek Atambayev in an interview with a number of media said that some NGOs in Kyrgyzstan under the guise are actually engaged in political activity.
The reaction was immediate, 43 non-governmental organizations have addressed to the head of state with the open letter, which stated: "...the country's security should be ensured not by limiting the activities of NGOs, establishing new barriers for them. It must be achieved through efficient operation of the national security agencies, which are required to be kept under the control of anyone who may be a potential threat, be it individuals, commercial or non-profit organizations, government agencies or other entities. Previous two presidents also believed that NGOs are a threat to national security and were trying to restrict their activities. However, history has shown that they were wrong. It turned out that the greatest threat to the security of the country was they themselves, and they were expelled from the country by its people for violating the principles of building a truly democratic state, corruption and mismanagement. We hope that you won't repeat their mistakes and instead a policy of confrontation with the sector will choose the path of cooperation with them to jointly solve the existing problems in the country."
24.kg news agency asked its respondents to the question: ""Don't you think that the NGOs through such applications, in fact, threaten the head of state? And does Kyrgyzstan need such a law?"
Tursunbai Bakir uulu, Member of Parliament from Ar-Namys faction:
- There are about 20,000 different NGOs in Kyrgyzstan, 99 percent of them work for the good of society, help the sick, disabled and vulnerable groups. But there are NGOs, they are 15-20, which interfere with all political issues and "put their nose where they don't belong." They are like parasites on the body, made from foreign finance a food source. For them, the worse the situation in the country, the more they receive from abroad. Today they are trying to influence through the embassies of the fact that the law didn't pass. They put pressure on the president, recalling the predecessors, put pressure on parliament, threatening to make a new "color revolution". Of course, their representatives don't want to lose foreign feeding if their activities become transparent. For some grantors it is not beneficial that other available non-profit organizations work for the good of the country. These NGOs imagined themselves as "sacred cows", which no one should touch. So today instinct of self-preservation works. If they are so outraged, then we are on the right path. As they say, to cap fits. The President should support this bill because it is the guarantor of national security.
Ghani Abdrasilov, Director of Strategic Studies Office:
- The President says correct. And I support it with both hands. These treatments - real blackmail. And such law is necessary if we want to keep the republic, stability and peace. This law should have been taken 15 years ago, and while many of the negative effects could be avoided. The number of these NGOs increased, and it is well known: who pays those orders... We're the weakest link in Central Asia on the stability, and the NGOs can raise a riot here at any time on one call. They are fed with another hand, one shouldn't equivocate, 99 percent receive foreign grants, and mostly Western. None of NGOs lives for their own money. They all live at the expense of foreign handouts. More or less literate people went to these handouts, and now don't want to work in any government agency or business. Nobody wants to engage in business, it's hard - one needs to think and work day and night. And NGO workers write what you are said and that's it. If a person receives hundreds of dollars, now it is impossible to take him away from this trough. A person internally can disagree with what he says, but he is said, you have to carry out such a policy, otherwise deprive the financial resources and that's it. There is no need to engage in demagoguery. President, as he came to power, should have immediately put them in place, and while it was easier to do, but now it's more complicated.
Abdymanap Kutushev, deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights, Constitutional Law and State Structure:
- I was always loyal to the activities of non-governmental organizations. I must admit that many of them work well, according to its statutes, in various spheres of social life and for the benefit of the people. And when the bill appeared, I treated it with skepticism. I thought if it is needed at all. But after in the media appeared treatment of a number of NGOs with clear notes of blackmail and threats against the current government, I began to look at it differently. Nobody and no group of people can dictate to the entire state and impose any conditions. Especially when some NGOs under the guise of doing politics are trying to influence decision-making authority. And the appearance of this treatment in the media is a proof. I think that Parliament, after weighing all the "pros" and "cons", will take the right decision.
Adil Turdukulov, civic activist:
- I think that at the moment such a law is not necessary. For an example, the United States, where half a million non-governmental NGOs, but in America - unlike us - especially strong unions. This is also a non-governmental organization, right?
- The union, as it is known in America or Kyrgyzstan primarily defends the rights and interests of workers and is funded from abroad...
-I mean we have disbalance in priorities. I think that workers' rights should be a priority for both state and civil society. Unfortunately, this topic is not relevant in our country. And I agree that there is imbalance that is why I didn't sign this appeal.
-Do you teat this treatment as non-governmental sector pressure on the head of the state?
-Honestly, I would not be so categorical because NGOs are right in sense that the pressure on them and the media began in pre-revolutionary events of 2005 and 2010 years. In sense that the President refers to the United States, saying that such law exists in America, he's right. Firstly, there is another terminology, and interpreted differently by public. But we copy Russia, which, in my opinion, is not a very good example.
-You mean the same Russian law?
-There it was not done for resolving the situation in non-governmental sector, but to introduce strict government regulation in relation to NGOs. So I understand the fears of NGOs that it will be the same. And second, many NGOs deal with problems of persons with disabilities and other groups. And then it is probably wrong to put label of "foreign agent" on them, saying that they are funded from abroad. I know many NGO leaders who do it in all sincerity, with great enthusiasm and low budget. I'm afraid that then such shortcuts will be used against them. I wouldn't wish it, to be honest. So I am not so categorical that such a law is not necessary, but now it isn't required, I can say definitely. Adoption of the law is not timely with such hot passions, improper advocacy in relation to civil society, misunderstanding the role of NGOs.
Torobai Zulpukarov, the Vice Speaker of the Parliament:
-This bill did not originally emphasize such thing as foreign agent. Initiators just wanted to make transparent the activities of NGOs. Activities of the same Parliament are opened, everyone knows about our budget and expenditures. Why not to oblige non-profit sector to submit the reports? If its representatives have nothing to hide, then I think there is nothing to be afraid of reporting. Today, a number of NGOs try to distort essence of the bill, trying to influence the authorities. The appeal of 43 NGOs comprises threatening issues towards the president that is fundamentally wrong. It is incorrect to compare the current head of the Kyrgyz Republic with his predecessors. After all, nobody makes attempts on democratic principles. There are a great number of NGOs in the country and it is wrong when 43 of them express objections on behalf of civil society. In this case, there are cases when some activists afford to present distorted information, to speak on behalf of people. Although they can not do it, because they weren't elected by popular vote, as the same deputies. So before criticizing someone, NGOs should start from themselves.
Shamaral Maichiev, the Chairman of the Judge Selection Council, the Chairman of the media complaints investigation commission:
-I can not comment on this situation, since NGOs representatives themselves seek in our commission for help.
Mar Baidzhiev, the national writer of the Kyrgyz Republic:
-It is necessary to approach this issue analytically, analyze, and only after the results, undertake something. Among NGOs there are those, and others, I notice it, but we need to understand what they want, who works and how it would end, as there are many such agents, religious as well. It is necessary to analyze their activity.
-But there are so many NGOs...
-It is necessary to control. Why are immigrants from neighboring countries checked for documents? And then, as they say, they've set the wolf to keep the sheep. Of course, it is unclear what they will deal with.
- So you support the initiative of Ar-Namys members?
-It is necessary to adopt a law, but it requires justification, not so easy. In general, what does the National Security Committee deal with? Why it doesn't monitor their activities?
-Is it possible, in your opinion, estimate appeal as blackmail of Almazbek Atambayev?
-Let them say what they want - you can say anything you want. I say it again: we need control. But only after deep analysis of NGO activities.
Nurbek Toktankunov, lawyer:
-We should distinguish blackmail and warning. And if I wrote this appeal, it would be real blackmail. I think that he has forgotten about fate of the first two ex-presidents. Moreover, the head of state is getting closer to this point. His entourage has made it so that it does not get reliable information and doesn't really know where and what is happening in society. And I think that this appeal of NGOs is very soft and delicate. If I wrote it, then it would have been more severe.
- I understand your position: you think that this law isn't required...
-I immediately asked NGO representatives to stop opposing. This is the principle of "the worse, the better", first they will shut up civil society and then shut your mouth - the media. Only then you will understand what it is. Law on false report - trivial matters, but when human rights defenders will be shut up by the law "On Foreign Agents", then you need to be afraid. Only then you will "walk on tiptoe." And when media is shut up, they will begin to "choke" the others, all will wake up - deputies, politicians, officials - begging defenders on the knees "to go on stage" once again. Therefore, I am for the law, even taking in the hardest version, then there will be some social unrest...