Kyrgyzstan tightens laws to ensure public order, protect the environment

By Kanat Altynbayev

Authorities have introduced a fine of 5,500 KGS ($80) for spitting on the street and for littering with small items, such as a fruit rind, in public places. Osh Bazaar in Bishkek is shown January 9. [Bishkek City Hall]

Offenders who burn garbage or debris in unauthorised locations face a fine of 7,500 KGS ($107) now. Osh Bazaar in Bishkek is shown January 9. [Bishkek City Hall]

Bishkek municipal workers January 9 clear illegally dumped garbage from Osh Bazaar, one of the capital's largest markets, after new quality-of-life laws took effect January 1. [Bishkek City Hall]

Bishkek city workers remove illegally dumped trash from the capital's Osh Bazaar January 9. [Bishkek City Hall]

Bishkek city workers January 9 remove illegally dumped garbage from the Osh Bazaar, one of the capital's largest markets. [Bishkek City Hall]

Utility workers are shown in Bishkek January 9. Kyrgyzstan January 1 enacted laws to stiffen punishments for littering and other quality-of-life violations. [Bishkek City Hall]

BISHKEK -- New, stiffer fines and other penalties for bad behaviour are arousing debate in Kyrgyzstan.

Since January 1, the authorities have significantly increased fines for traffic violations, as well as for spitting on the street. Burning garbage illegally could also mean a hefty fine.

Keeping Bishkek safe, clean

The scale of the impact can be seen in the increased fine for an unfastened seat belt. It was 300 KGS ($4) last year but now is more than three times higher: 1,000 KGS ($14).

On the open road, out of town, the fine is 3,000 KGS ($42).


Kyrgyz Prime Minister Mukhammedkaly Abylgaziev discusses ways to improve road safety with an expert group November 13 in Bishkek. [Kyrgyz government press office]

The fines represent a real burden -- and are making an impact -- in a country that in 2017 had an average monthly salary of 15,670 KGS ($225), according to the government.

Authorities enacted a fine of 5,500 KGS ($80) for spitting on the street and for littering with small items, such as a fruit rind, in public places. For burning industrial waste and leaves in unauthorised places, an offender will have to pay 7,500 KGS ($107).

The penalty for illegal trash burning resulted from this winter's environmental degradation in Bishkek. Air pollution levels in the metropolis significantly exceeded allowable limits for reasons such as saunas' indiscriminate burning of trash to avoid paying for fuel. Some saunas even resorted to burning car tires.

It is necessary to "pay special attention to the formation of civic spirit and of one's experience of how to behave in society," Kyrgyz Prime Minister Muhammedkaly Abylgaziyev said recently concerning the fines and penalties.

Public attitudes vary

The reforms have divided public opinion.

Kyrgyz society must learn rules of proper behaviour, even if the process requires stiffer penalties, said Shirin Dubanayeva, a Bishkek-based communication specialist.

"Unfortunately, the behaviour of many of our citizens leaves much to be desired," she told Caravanserai. "No one cares about the city or respects others. For example, it was always unpleasant to me to see someone spit on the street near me. It's disgusting."

Ruslan Valitov, a cartoonist from Bishkek, is concerned more than anything else about the capital's environment and therefore supports the reforms.

"In the winter, sauna owners and owners of private homes are heating their rooms with whatever they can get their hands on," he told Caravanserai. "That's why we're choking on smog. But no appeals to think of the environment are helping, so all we have left is to hit them [offenders] in the wallet; that's the only way to make our people more responsible."

The new laws, however, particularly those increasing fines for traffic violations, could increase corruption among traffic police, said Bishkek taxi driver Oleg Demyanenko.

"The government's coffers receive only a small fraction of the fines that traffic police collect from offenders," he told Caravanserai. "After all, drivers usually make a pay-off on the spot. With the increase in fines, officers' appetites will only grow."

Keeping authorities accountable

Kyrgyz oversight bodies will monitor traffic police to thwart bribery, a Bishkek-based commentator told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)'s Kyrgyz service in comments published January 8.

The oversight bodies include the ministry's anti-corruption branch, the General Prosecutor's Office and the State Committee for National Security, said Maj. Gen. (ret.) Sadyrbek Dubanayev, a former deputy interior minister.

"If they really take action and strengthen oversight, and if each unit commander keeps an eye on [his or her] subordinates, I think there will be order," Dubanayev told RFE/RL.

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9 Comment(s)

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Bad environment my ass. It's OK that officials built luxury apartment buildings violating all the rules and now the city is getting no air. No one knows where they got the money for that. Was it people's money by any chance? It is necessary to rip the public off even more. Alga. And nobody gives a damn if a sick person takes expectorants. They should either swallow or pay. Money is always needed )))


Bad environment my ass. It's OK that officials have built luxury apartment buildings violating all the rules and now it doesn't look like a city. And who knows where they got the money to build that up. Money is running out, so let's somehow rip the people off even more. Go ahead. And what if a sick person takes expectorants and cherries? They should either swallow it or cough. Money is always needed.


Ban naswar and that's it. Problem solved.


The laws are harsh and to the detriment of people rather than to their benefit. There will be more traffic jams. Don't make the people angry


They are so tireless in robbing the people blind. The authorities are longing to provoke people's ire again and finish some people off.


Why does everyone want petty fines? Relax, don't violate the rules and pay nothing.


That's right, let's behave ourselves.


Only common people suffer, but our officials are insatiable. For them there's no such thing as the law.


This law is not meant for us, think about the common people