Kyrgyzstan not involved in illegal arms trade – paper

Kyrgyzstan not involved in illegal arms trade – paper

MSN, Bishkek
7 Jan 05

A Kyrgyz paper has denied Internet reports to the effect that
Kyrgyzstan sold a helicopter gunship to Liberia in violation of a UN
embargo. The paper said the helicopter was sold in 1998 to a firm from
the Republic of Guinea. However, Kyrgyzstan does sell outdated
Soviet-era armaments to ease the acute lack of funds in the army, the
paper added. The following is an excerpt from the article entitled
“Tanks do not fire in political wars. They are sold”, written by Yuriy
Gruzdov and published by MSN newspaper on 7 January; subheadings
inserted editorially:

Kyrgyzstan is not trading in weapons violating international military
embargoes. But it does not intend to cede its niche in the world arms
market to anyone.

Kyrgyzstan accused of illegal arms trade

At the end of 2004, information appeared on many web sites in the
Internet related to illegal arms trade by Kyrgyzstan. An idea was
persistently suggested in it that weapons to Africa are sold via our
country as well.

Referring to a report by Amnesty International, a London-based human
rights organization, these publications highlighted as an example the
fact that a Mi-24 military helicopter had been sent to Slovakia from
Kyrgyzstan for maintenance. However, it had not returned and been sold
to Liberia in violation of a UN embargo on selling weapons to that
country. Another military helicopter from Kyrgyzstan was to end up
there as well but was intercepted.

Internet report out of date

It is a sensation! Absolutely, if not for such a circumstance that a
six-year old story is twisted to agree with contemporary
realities. Moreover, there is no information substance in it.

MSN correspondents dealt with this topic back in 2001. A journalist
investigation coincided with the time of a visit by Martin Chungong
Ayafor, chairman of a committee for sanctions under the UN Security
Council, to Kyrgyzstan. At that time he arrived in our country with
the aim of checking facts related to Kyrgyzstan selling military
helicopters to one of the fighting republics in Africa.

Naturally, the results of his visit were not widely publicized, since
it touched upon not only military secrets, but state secretes as well,
for selling military equipment and weapons is an exclusive prerogative
of the government and president. Military servicemen only fulfil
orders at such deals. But we still managed to learn the main details
of the event.

As it transpired, one European and several African states, the UN
Security Council and a former general from Kyrgyzstan were involved in
the scandal with the Kyrgyz helicopters.

So, the Kyrgyz government did sell two military helicopters to a
company that officially represented the Republic of Guinea in
1998. The sale was carried out in full accordance with international
legislation. Before the conclusion of the contract, the country’s
special services checked whether Guinea was at war and whether it was
listed with the UN as an “unreliable” state. A positive resolution was
issued by the leadership of other ministries and the Foreign Ministry
while agreeing the deal. The latter underlined that the deal would in
no way tarnish Kyrgyzstan’s image in the international arena.

Then servicemen broke up the helicopters and loaded them on lorries,
which the buying company’s staff drove up to the military aerodrome
based in Kant Kyrgyz north . And, as the saying goes, we waved goodbye
to the helicopters being taken away. But the high-ranking UN official
arrived in Kyrgyzstan just to find out how the helicopters ended up in
Slovakia and one of them in Africa after maintenance. Martin Ayafor,
chairman of the committee for sanctions under the UN Security Council,
established that accompanying documents confirmed the fact of sending
two helicopters to Slovakia from Kyrgyzstan for maintenance. The order
for maintenance was placed in accordance with all rules and was signed
by Maj-Gen Rashid Urazmatov, a representative of the armed forces of
the Kyrgyz Republic at the Moscow staff for coordinating military
cooperation, based on a power of attorney issued by the Kyrgyz Defence
Ministry. The signature of Maj-Gen N. Chomoyev, who was then the head
of the main staff of the Kyrgyz armed forces, was at the bottom of
that document. But an investigation established that neither he nor
any other official of the Defence Ministry had done this. Moreover,
such documents undergo obligatory registration at the Defence
Ministry, but this had not been done either.

Gen Urazmatov himself actually could have told us about who put a
signature on the power of attorney but he quit our army due to health
conditions on the eve of the scandal and preferred not to appear
within sight of concerned parties. The head of that company that
initially bought helicopters in Kyrgyzstan legally and then exposed
our country almost as a supplier of weapons to hot spots of the planet
disappeared in unknown direction as well. After the incident, any
activity of any company that represented the Republic of Guinea was
prohibited on our country’s territory.

It is possible that relevant services of the UN Security Council have
fully unravelled this incident. It cannot be excluded that a scheme
which the mediators and main actors in this incident with the Kyrgyz
helicopters used has already been revealed. But probably only special
services possess this information, and they are unlikely to publish it
in the near future.

Kyrgyzstan sells arms to help cash-strapped army

As is known, Kyrgyzstan gave up a large army long ago. Also, in its
military doctrine Kyrgyzstan proceeds from the fact that it will bring
its troops into accordance with new political-military and
strategic-military tasks, directed at preventing potential threats to
national interests, in the near future. All this requires maintaining
ammunition and equipment in order. Military subunits are also to be
equipped with the most up-to-date equipment.

But an acute budget deficit does not allow servicemen to possess the
whole range of modern weaponry. This is why it is extremely hard to
find solution to the main task – establishing compact, combat-ready,
technically equipped and mobile subunits. It is primarily so because
military units of the Defence Ministry possess Soviet-made equipment
which has been used and stored for over 30 years (some systems and
ammunition for over 40 years).

Passage omitted: old military equipment requires maintenance

Unfortunately, industrial enterprises in the country are not capable
of carrying out full maintenance of tanks, armoured military vehicles,
aircraft and helicopters. Full maintenance of only one T-72 tank costs
14m soms some 340,000 dollars , Mi-8MTV helicopter 30m soms some
650,000 dollars , MiG-21 aircraft over 26m soms some 635,000 dollars ,
in neighbouring foreign countries. This is not including transport and
other expenses. The government is incapable of providing such money to
servicemen neither currently nor in the near future.

We indeed receive assistance from many states in the military field,
and Russia, China and the USA top the list. But that is extremely
insufficient. Therefore, selling surplus weaponry and military
equipment the further use of which is deemed purposeless from the
military and economic viewpoints remains one of the main areas of
attracting additional sources of extra-budget financing. To be
absolutely frank, scrap metal is frequently sold to customers in the
guise of aircraft, helicopters, armoured technology and other items,
for most of the items for sale simply cannot be restored in local
conditions. The only thing that can attract potential customers of
military goods is low prices.

Actually, this factor works not always either, and tonnes of military
equipment rot and rust in military storage bases, and probably no-one
will now be able to sell it.

This very trend has been lately traced in trade operations related to
selling production of the Kyrgyz military-industrial complex
abroad. The number of deals has decreased.

By the way, it should be clarified what goes abroad from Kyrgyzstan.
Primarily these are all special products produced by our defence
enterprises. And of course – the aforementioned Soviet era “surplus”.

Passage omitted: military enterprises unsuccessfully attempted to sell
products abroad after independence

More cooperation urged with CIS enterprises

The loss of a number of markets due to tough competition with
developed Western countries’ monopolistic structures, and those of
China lately, has had a very negative effect on the defence
sphere. But after the establishment of the commission for military and
technical cooperation with foreign states (in 2000), the situation
started to improve. The commission with powers of an executive body
has provided coordination, planning and control of the activity of
entities of military and technical cooperation within the framework of
international law. Thus, a qualitatively new step meeting current
realities was taken.

An international and internal legal basis for the activities of
entities of military and technical cooperation on military export and
import issues had already been established by that time. On the legal
basis of military and technical cooperation, it is necessary to
underline that international agreements play a certain role in this
case. Kyrgyzstan is a participant in over 15 documents which were
signed by heads of state, government and defence departments of the
CIS and CSTO Collective Security Treaty Organization member states.
Kyrgyzstan reached military and technical cooperation agreements on an
international level with Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia and other

Passage omitted: Arabian states do not want USSR-produced weapons

What does Kyrgyzstan have left to do in such conditions? It needs to
establish close contacts with Rosoboroneksport, a Russian federal
state unitary enterprise; the Ukrainian Defence Ministry state
enterprise Lugansk aviation and maintenance plant; Aerostar
aviation-industrial group (Romania); Kazakh and Belarusian enterprises
involved in export and import operations with military production. Our
country has managed to occupy its niche in the world market of
military products with the help of these enterprises.

Passage omitted: the article speculates who could post the report in
the Internet