New Bishkek mayor's Kyrgyz language skills not up to par: activists


BISHKEK -- Bishkek's new mayor failed to demonstrate proficiency in Kyrgyz as required by law, say activists protesting his election, reported Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Wednesday (August 8).

The city council, which elects Bishkek's mayor, voted Wednesday 43-1 for Aziz Surakmatov, the only candidate. He represents the ruling Social Democratic Party.

Activists have been demonstrating for weeks about the unavailability of other candidates. A protest in Bishkek followed Surakmatov's election.

Critics of Surakmatov also have sought in vain to have Bishkek mayors chosen in a popular election and to have Surakmatov -- who is fluent in Russian -- demonstrate proficiency in Kyrgyz to their satisfaction.

The Central Election Commission (TsIK) certified Surakmatov as knowing sufficient Kyrgyz, even though by law another agency, Kyrgyztest, was supposed to administer his Kyrgyz-language test, said journalist Kanyshai Mamyrkulova in a lawsuit, reported Thursday (August 9).

In addition, Surakmatov did poorly on the TsiK test, she said. "[TsiK], despite his gross errors, gave him a satisfactory grade. That's a clear violation of the law," reported her as saying.

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