+   *    +     +     
About Us 
The Issues 
Our Research Products 
Order Publications 
Press Room 
Resources for Monitor Researchers 
Table of Contents
Country Reports
Kyrgyzstan, Landmine Monitor Report 2004


Key developments since May 2003: Kyrgyzstan conducted mine clearance on its border with Uzbekistan in the first half of 2003, but stopped due to border disputes with Uzbekistan. The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs stated in February 2004 that Uzbekistan had replanted mines in areas that the Kyrgyzstan had cleared. In November 2003, the IPPNW Kyrgyz Committee, the ICBL, and the Kyrgyz Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted a conference on landmines in Central Asia and CIS countries, one of many landmine-related public events in 2003 and 2004.

Key developments since 1999: Kyrgyzstan used landmines in 1999 and 2000 to prevent infiltration across its border with Tajikistan. Mine risk education programs have begun in border areas of Kyrgyzstan adjacent to minefields emplaced by Uzbekistan. In June 2001, the Kyrgyz government issued a decree regarding mine clearance and mine risk education. Since 1999, at least ten landmine casualties occurred in the Batken region near the Uzbek border.

Mine Ban Policy

Kyrgyzstan has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. In February 2004, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that while, “the world without mines remains our common goal,” landmine clearance would require significant financial and technical resources, and Kyrgyzstan would need alternative means of securing the border areas.[1] He added, “Kyrgyzstan is moving step by step in the direction of solving the landmine problem. We are not setting tasks that are impossible to fill.”[2]

Kyrgyzstan participated in a few Ottawa Process meetings as an observer and has since attended one annual Mine Ban Treaty meeting of States Parties (in 2002) and some sessions of the treaty’s intersessional Standing Committees (in January 2002 and February 2004). While Kyrgyzstan voted in support of pro-mine ban resolutions by the United Nations General Assembly between 1996 and 1998, and abstained from voting in 2000, 2002, and 2003. Kyrgyzstan was not allowed to participate in the 1999 and 2001 votes.

Numerous conferences and events relating to landmines were held in Kyrgyzstan in the past year. On 5 November 2003, the IPPNW Kyrgyz Committee and the Kyrgyz Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted a conference titled “Landmines in Central Asia and CIS Countries: Defining the Problem and Identifying Solutions.”[3] Speakers included ICBL campaigners from the region, who at the same time held their annual Landmine Monitor meeting.[4] In October 2003, several NGOs in Kyrgyzstan (IPPNW-Kyrgyz Committee, the National Red Crescent Society, and the Bishkek Rotary Club) organized a photo exhibition in the Kyrgyz House of Parliament on landmines and poverty in the Batken border region.[5] On 12 March 2004, the National Red Crescent Society hosted a roundtable discussion on landmines in the Batken region.[6] On 13 March, the Kyrgyz National University (KNU) and the National Red Crescent Society held a conference on the Mine Ban Treaty that was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, IPPNW Kyrgyz Committee, NRCS, and law students and faculty from KNU.[7] On 19 May, the National Red Crescent Society held a seminar “Mass media and Red Crescent” for journalists in Osh in the Batken region, which also addressed the landmine issue.[8] On 27 May, medical students at the Kyrgyz-Russian University held a conference on landmines and disarmament in which members of the IPPNW-Kyrgyz youth section gave a presentation on landmines in the Batken.[9] On 28 June, the “Mir” regional television network presented a documentary film about mine victims in the Batken called “Frontiers of life,” produced by Alexandr Knyazev with funds provided by the US Embassy in Kyrgyzstan and technical by Internews Network of Kyrgyzstan.[10] On 23 July 2004, the Kyrgyz Red Crescent Society hosted a roundtable discussion with Red Crescent representatives from Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan to discuss conflict prevention, including how they might work together on issues such as landmines.[11]

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling and Use

Kyrgyzstan has stated that it has not produced or exported antipersonnel mines, but inherited a stockpile of mines from the Soviet Union.[12] The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs acknowledged that Kyrgyzstan used landmines in 1999 and 2000 to prevent infiltration across border areas, but maintained that these areas have been demined.[13] According to the Chief of the Engineering Battalion of the Ministry of Frontier Troops, no landmines were emplaced in 2003, but it is possible that landmines will be used in the future if necessary.[14] He added that Kyrgyzstan would continue using landmines until the Border Service had an appropriate substitute.

Landmine Problem

In 1999 and 2000, Uzbekistan laid antipersonnel mines on the border with Kyrgyzstan to prevent incursions by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) rebel group. Uzbek minefields are emplaced inside Kyrgyzstan around the Tajik enclave of Sokh, around the Shakhi-Mardan enclave, and along other border areas. According to Kyrgyz border guards, two to three mine explosions occur in the Sokh enclave every month.[15] Experts from the Kyrgyz Parliament Committee for Security estimate the width of the mined areas around Sokh and Shakhi-Mardan enclaves at not less than 250 meters, with high mining density, from 2,000 to 3,000 mines (fragmentation OZM-72) per kilometer.[16] Kyrgyzstan’s requests for Uzbekistan to provide maps of the minefields have not yet been successful and in July 2003, the Kyrgyz Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement condemning Uzbekistan’s refusal to hand over the maps.[17] Landmines in Kyrgyzstan, in addition to causing injuries, have adversely affected endangered species, tourism, and agriculture.[18]

It is unclear whether there are still mines along the Kyrgyz-Tajik border. In July 2003, a Ministry of Defense official said all Kyrgyz-laid landmines on the border had been cleared.[19] In April 2004, however, Agence France-Presse reported that there were still landmines on the Tajik side of the border than had been emplaced by Kyrgyz troops.[20] That same month, Tajik inspectors reported finding antipersonnel minefields near the border with Kyrgyzstan, although it was not clear which country had laid the mines.[21]

Mine Action

A law passed on 7 June 2001 forms the legal basis for mine clearance in Kyrgyzstan.[22] In February 2002, a Ministry of Defense official said that 320,000 square meters of mine-affected land along the Uzbek border had been cleared.[23] The Kyrgyz Army has established a new Engineering Battalion and all large troop divisions have specialist engineers attached. Engineer units in Osh have also been augmented with additional troops.[24] After the commission of border delineation completes its work, Kyrgyz Army engineering units plan to re-commence border demining.[25]

In 2002, the Kyrgyz military reportedly began clearance in some areas, but, according to the Kyrgyz Border Guard Service, stopped due to disputes about the border. A representative of the Kyrgyz Ministry of Defense General Staff reported that Kyrgyz demining efforts were halted due to the warnings from the Uzbek border guards that “if we [Kyrgyzstan] clear mines they will replant them there again.”[26] In March 2003, it was reported that Kyrgyz border troops had cleared some minefields laid by Uzbekistan.[27] A Kyrgyz Defense Ministry official, Tairbek Madymarov, said that the Uzbeks “stated quite clearly that if the Kyrgyz personnel dug up and defused the mines, more would be planted.”[28]

According to the Chief of the Engineering Battalion of the Ministry of Frontier Troops, Kyrgyzstan conducted mine clearance in the first half of 2003, but that work had again stopped due to border disputes with Uzbekistan.[29] The Kyrgyz-Uzbek commission on delimitation of the border has not yet completed its work, and until it is finished the military cannot begin to clear the boundary territories.

The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs stated in February 2004 that Uzbekistan had replanted mines in areas that the Kyrgyz workers had cleared.[30] The Kyrgyz Prime Minister, Nikolai Tanayev, also reported in February 2004 that Uzbekistan had cancelled an agreement on the delimitation of a 27-kilometer strip of a disputed border line. Officials believed that this action would further hinder efforts to clear the minefields near the border.[31]

In June 2004, Uzbekistan announced that it would reverse a 1999 decision to mine its borders, and begin clearing the mines along the borders with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The authorities attributed the decision to increased cooperation between law enforcement forces.[32]

Mine Risk Education

In January 2003, the Red Crescent Society, in coordination with the Ministry of Emergency Situations, initiated a community-based mine risk education (MRE) program in Batken Oblast. Red Crescent volunteers conduct MRE trainings for adults and schoolchildren. The Red Crescent has produced and disseminated information exhibits and billboards, as well as booklets, posters, and updates.[33] Red Crescent Society volunteers, with support from the ICRC, placed warning signs in mine-affected areas of the Batken region, and also built playgrounds and youth clubs in the Chon-Kara, Tayan, and Sai villages of the southern Batken district so that the local youth have safe places to play and congregate. Nasira Baratbaeva, coordinator of the mine risk education program of the Red Crescent Society, stated, “We can say that thanks to the program, there haven't been any mine incidents since February 2003 as people are now aware of the danger they live in.”[34] The Red Crescent Society plans to equip seven more villages in 2004.[35]

Landmine/UXO Casualties and Survivor Assistance

On 23 February 2003, a Kyrgyz civilian was killed when he stepped on a mine while herding livestock seven kilometers west of Chon-Kara in the Batken region.[36] No casualties have been reported for the first half of 2004.

The total number of landmine casualties in Kyrgyzstan is not known. According to the National Red Crescent Society, ten landmine casualties occurred in the Batken region near the Uzbek border since 1999; five people were killed, and about half of the casualties were children.[37] Landmine Monitor recorded eight mine casualties between 2000 and 2002: one killed and three injured in 2001; and four injured in 2000, including two children.[38] Kyrgyz and Tajik officials stated in July 2004 that landmines planted along its borders by Uzbekistan have caused at least 70 deaths – including many children – since 1999.[39]

In 2003, Batken Oblast officials reportedly lodged a formal request for compensation from Uzbekistan in the amount of 6 million som (approximately $121,000), claiming this amount as the cost of Uzbek mines in terms of lives, land, and opportunities lost.[40]

In 2001 and 2002, three incidents involving unexploded ordnance were also reported which killed five children.[41]

The public health system is free-of-charge in Kyrgyzstan. Landmine and UXO casualties receive the same medical assistance as all other citizens.[42]

Kyrgyzstan does not have an orthotic and prosthetic center capable of fitting artificial limbs. Amputees requiring such treatment would have to travel to the Dushanbe Orthopedic Center in Tajikistan, run by the ICRC.[43] However, none of the five known mine survivors living in Batken region require artificial limbs and all have received and continue to receive medical assistance. While physical rehabilitation services exist, psychological and socio-economic support is less available due to economic problems in the country.[44]

All civilians with a disability are protected under common law and there are no special laws or decrees for landmine survivors.

[1] Statement by Kyrgyzstan, Standing on Stockpile Destruction, 12 February 2004.
[2] Interview with Talant Kushchubekov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geneva, 10 February 2004.
[3] “International conference on landmines starts in Kyrgyzstan on 5 November,” Itar-Tass (Kyrgyzstan), 5 November 2003; “Issues of use of antipersonnel mines to be discussed in Bishkek,” Asia-Plus (Tajikistan), 5 November 2003.
[4] ICBL Press Release, “Campaigners Urge Central Asian Leaders to Support Landmine Ban,” 5 November 2003; “Kyrgyzstan urged to join Ottawa Convention on antipersonnel mines,” Kyrgyz TV (Bishkek), 5 November 2003.
[5] Olesya Chernogubova, “Batken: a zone of landmines and danger,” The Times of Central Asia (Bishkek), 31 October 2003.
[6] Elena Tikhonenko, “Stupid Landmine,” Moscowskii komsomolec 17 Murch 2004.
[7] “A conference on elimination of antipersonnel mines to be held in Bishkek,” www.kyrgyzinfo.kg, 12 March 2004.
[8] W. Zilinga, “Media and Red Crescent,” Echo Osha (Osh) 19 May 2004.
[9] See www.kabar.kg, 27 May 2004.
[10] Interview with Alexandr Knyazev, television journalist, Bishkek, 9 September 2004.
[11] “Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Tajik Red Crescent groups discuss boosting cooperation,” FERGANA, 23 July 2004.
[12] Statement by Talant Kushchubekov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, 12 February 2004.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Statement by Col. Vladimer Buchov, Chief of the Engineering Battalion of the Ministry of Frontier Troops, at the conference in Bishkek, 5 November 2003; see also “Kyrgyzstan to continue using landmines,” Res Publica (Bishkek), 11 November 2003 (translated by BBC).
[15] Aella Panfilova, “Anclave Sokh–a Stumbling Point,” Eurasia Today, 6 May 2003. The Kyrgyzstan delegate also mentioned this at the February 2004 intersessional Standing Committee meeting. See Statement by Talant Kushchubekov, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geneva, 12 February 2004.
[16] Sultan Zhimagulov (Bishkek) and Olga Borisova (Tashkent), “Kyrgyzstan Tries to Defend Itself from Uzbek Mines,” Navigator (Kazakhstan), 14 March 2003, available at www.navi.kz.
[17] “Kyrgyzstan protests Uzbek ambassador over border shooting death,” AFP (Bishkek), 18 July 2003; Tolkun Namatbayeva, “Shooting on Kyrgyz-Uzbek border renews Central Asian security fears,” AFP (Ferghana Valley), 18 July 2003.
[18] Alisher Taksanov, “Uzbekistan ignores landmine threat,” The Times of Central Asia, 19 December 2003.
[19] Interview with Col. Daniyr Izbasarov, Director, Engineer Department, Ministry of Defense, Bishkek, 3 July 2003. The Ministry of Defense reportedly said in 2001 that one remote minefield remained, which would be demined in the future. Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 689.
[20] “Mines make childhood dangerous pastime in Tajikistan,” AFP (Dushanbe), 24 April 2004.
[21] “Jordan’s Queen Nur attends mine-clearing drill in Tajik south,” Tajik Radio, 16 April 2004.
[22] Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 889.
[23] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 690.
[24] Interview with Col. Daniyr Izbasarov, Ministry of Defense, 27 March 2003.
[25] Ibid. See also “Kyrgyzstan blasts Uzbek border control policies,” AP (Bishkek), 21 June 2004.
[26] Sultan Zhimagulov and Olga Borisova, “Uzbek Mines,” Navigator, 14 March 2003.
[27] “Kyrgyzstan to Patrol Kazakh Border,” Radio Free Europe, 13 March 2003.
[28] “Uzbek Kyrgyz Border Danger,” 21 March 2003.
[29] Statement by Col. Vladimer Buchov, Ministry of Frontier Troops, 5 November 2003.
[30] Statement by Kyrgyzstan, Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, 12 February 2004.
[31] Alexei Dmitriyev, “Mine at the Border,” WPS: Defense & Security (Bishkek), 24 February 2004.
[32] “Red Cross welcomes Uzbekistan's decision to de-mine borders,” AP (Tashkent), 1 July 2004.
[33] Interview with Nazira Baratbaeva, Project Coordinator, National Red Crescent Society, Bishkek, 14 February 2002.
[34] Ibid, 29 February, 2004.
[35] Ibid.
[36] Alexandra Chernyh, “Minister asks to open maps,” Moya Stolitza, 27 February 2003; “Kyrgyz man dies from Uzbek-laid mine in disputed territory,” Associated Press, 25 February 2003.
[37] “Five Kyrgyz killed, five injured Uzbek border mine incidents,” Kabar (Bishkek), 24 October 2003.
[38] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 691; Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 890-891.
[39] “Uzbekistan to clear mines on Tajik, Kyrgyz borders,” AFP (Tashkent), 23 June 2004.
[40] “Kyrgyzstan’s Batken Oblast Tries to Collect Damages from Uzbekistan,” Radio Free Europe, 5 March 2003.
[41] See Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 629.
[42] Interview with Tajinisa Shorohova, Deputy Director, Batken Hospital, Batken, 14 February 2003; see also Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 691.
[43] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 691.
[44] Interview with Tajinisa Shorohova, Batken Hospital, 14 February 2003.