By Tatiana Vikhareva and Anna Kapushenko
The use of administrative resources is a major risk of the upcoming presidential election in Kyrgyzstan. The Institute for Public Policy asked representatives of government agencies and civil society whether the election would pass without the use of administrative resources.
Representatives of state bodies on administrative resource
Bishkek City Mayor’s Office
According to the mayor Isa Omurkulov, “This election will differ from previous ones. According to the law ‘On Elections of President and Members of Jogorku Kenesh’ and the Constitution of the KR, local self-government should organize and create the conditions for voting for town citizens. In this regard, 204 polling sites were established in Bishkek, about 50 sites in each district.
“Bodies of local self-government must determine a voting site, provide relevant equipment, lock boxes, security, electricity, and we shall do it with very good quality in order to avoid criticism on the part of civil society.
“Now we have identified almost all sites for voting – in most cases those are the same places, which were used during the parliamentary election in the republic. Territorial districts and district election commissions have been formed, and it was all done under the auspices of the CEC.
“Also, it is our duty to ensure the safety of voters. At this time, it is being determined how many law enforcement employees will ensure safety at each polling station. In addition, we will organize the voluntary people’s squads. Voluntary people’s guards (drujinny), together with law enforcement agencies, will help provide security in case of any riots. This practice was used in 2010,” said Isa Omurkulov.
Answering the question: Are there difficulties in organizing the election process? the mayor said: “Everything is on schedule; there are no significant changes. I believe that, regardless of whether or not we elect city council members, the parliament or the president, elections should be always held in accordance with law.”
Isa Omurkulov also noted: “Earlier, there was strong criticism of the fact that holding elections in state institutions by itself may affect their outcome. I do not think so. There is no difference where voters make their choice. The outcome of elections does not depend on it. It depends on how the government organizes elections, i.e., all power structures must provide the same conditions for all, and all citizens should vote without any pressure. Administrative resources should not be used. And it will be excluded.”
Answering the question: Is there any mechanism to combat such phenomena as “Carousel voting”, “supply of voters”, and “massive’ ballot-box stuffing? the mayor said: “The CEC must control such phenomena, it is not our responsibility.
“As a citizen, I would like these elections to be fair, without incidents, without violation of public order. I think that these attributes must always be preserved, and then we will hold this election at the same level as the parliamentary one. Of course, it would be great if all took part in the vote, because it is the constitutional right of every citizen – to come on this day and vote. Activity of our citizens determines the future of our country.
“This election will differ from previous ones. If previous elections were held under the regime of a current president who went for the next term of their elections, today, everybody knows that the current president will not run for a new term. For this reason, the administrative resource is automatically excluded. And, of course, we wish all our Kyrgyzstanis stability, peace and prosperity.”
Representatives of regional state administrations
Representatives of regional state administrations told about preparations for the election and commented on the likelihood of the use of administrative resource.
Aibek Djunushaliev, chief of staff, Chui oblast state administration, told about participation of state bodies in the preparation process: “We are working according to the applicable laws. To date, participation of local state administration and public bodies is minimized. Our participation is reduced to participation in preparing and holding elections. The main work is carried out by the Central Election Commission and its special representatives, the territorial electoral commissions. We do not supervise. We only help to organize their activities. Local state administrations provide the appropriate space and office equipment for full functioning. Today, for preparation and conducting the election, the Chui Regional Commission was formed to assist in preparing and conducting elections, which includes mayors, regional administration, state bodies in the Chui region.”
Aibek Djunushaliev also told what was done in order to minimize the risk of the use of administrative resource: “Our participation in the preparation of the electoral process has been minimized, most likely in order to eliminate the use of administrative resource. A new Election Code was adopted under which more functional responsibilities were entrusted to the CEC. We even sent our system administrators, who made recordings and transmissions of information via e-mail, to the Central Election Commission, and they organized their work themselves. Thus, it is possible that in this election, administrative resource will be virtually eliminated.
“In each of the territorial commissions, there have been created hot lines, which could be used by citizens – residents of Chui oblast – that they may apply to the appropriate law enforcement agencies, local state administrations in case of violations. So far, there have been no complaints about the fact that someone is using administrative resource,” said Djunushaliev.
Marhabo Zulpukarova, head of the organizational department of local self-government in Osh Oblast State Administration, also spoke about preparation for the election: “Our competence includes clarification issues on voters lists and logistics for precinct election commissions, so currently we are working directly on these issues. The regional administration set up headquarters, which is engaged in logistics for precinct election commissions and clarifications connected with the list of voters. They conducted meetings, and all committee members are distributed over districts. According to the schedule, all members of the staff have visited their districts and had an extended meeting, attended by aiyl bashchy [head of village], heads of rural counties, executive secretaries, district organizations – that is, all those responsible for specification of voters lists.”
Zulpukarova commented on the probability of using administrative resource: “We are working on the basis of the constitutional law “On elections of the President and Jogorku Kenesh” and the Law “On election Commissions.” Local authorities and public administrations will not delve into issues that are not in their competence, i.e., administrative resource will not be used. So far, I do not see any signs of using administrative resource. We only create conditions for proper work of the commissions,” said Marhabo Zulpukarova.
Cholpon Tursunkulova, head of the organizational department of local self-government in Talas Oblast State Administration, said about preparations in the Talas oblast: “At this time, 116 polling stations have been organized, and 1,159 members of precinct election commissions have been registered. On September 1, we had registered 121,981 voters, but this figure varies on a daily basis. We held a meeting. To date, election commissions and headquarters have been created in oblast administrations and in the mayor’s office of Talas city. It is also planned to hold workshops for groups and party members about innovations in law.”
Tursunkulova said the following on the possibility of using administrative resource: “I have worked for 11 years in the field. Earlier, administrative resource was used. But we can confidently say that the last presidential election and referendum in Talas oblast passed without any use of administrative resource. The forthcoming election will be honest, and this resource will not be used, especially because we have no right to be part of any political party. With great confidence, I can say that there have been no signs of the use of administrative resource; it is calm in the Talas oblast,” said Tursunkulova.
Zuurakan Osmonbaeva, chief specialist of the organizational work of Jalal-Abad Oblast State Administration, said about assistance in the preparation for the election: “We created 26 polling stations and provided them with facilities and office equipment. Each polling station has a coping machine, telephone service and everything they might need. The Precinct Election Commissions have already been formed, and they are functioning well. The territorial election commission has its office in the mayor’s office building, they have a hall for fifty people, and there is a safe and all necessary equipment. According to an order of the mayor’s office, we provided vehicles for the territorial election commission of the city of Jalal-Abad. They are also provided with Internet, telephone and facsimile connections. Each employee or responsible officer of the municipality is assigned to a particular polling station, in order to assist with the organizational part. The main work is currently done by the territorial election commission. They have already arranged everything, and everything is on schedule. It’s been quite a while since we heard from them. Apparently, everything works well with them.”
Zuurakan Osmonbaeva believes that “the territorial commission will not undergo any pressure. The Chairman of the territorial commission is very experienced man in this context. A former executive secretary of the Regional Election Commission, she has worked for many years in this field and has held many elections, working as the Secretary. Chairman of our territorial election commission as an experienced, honest, independent and competent employee. There have been no signs of use of administrative resource.
“We were told not to intervene, not to assist any political party, except for providing shared access to telephone connections. If possible, we provide all assistance, not to any particular party, but in general. If they organize a meeting somewhere, we may ask the heads of the territorial administration or the heads of micro-districts to ensure the attendance of the population, but not always.
“To prevent such phenomena as mass “ballot stuffing,” “delivery of voters,” and “Carousel voting,” precinct election commissions were created. The work of law enforcement officers will be intensified on the day of the election. Polling stations will be attended by observers, including international ones, who will monitor the situation. I think that these elections will be transparent,” said Zuurakan Osmonbaeva.
Narimzhan Tashbaev, head of the organizational department of local government in Issyk-Kul oblast state administration, also expressed his opinion regarding the use of administrative resources: “We have new legislation, which does not give us the right to use administrative resource, so now we do not intervene in any case. Through the mayor, we coordinate and monitor the process of providing district commissions with suitable premises, necessary equipment, telephones, electricity, and fire protection. We do not interfere in other matters. Most of the work is carried out by the territorial election commission.
“In this election, the administrative resource will not be used. We have not seen any signs of pressure used against voters. We do not have a regional electoral commission, in general, all issues are resolved through city and district organizations and the territorial election commissions, and therefore the possibility of using administrative resource does not exist. We have no data on voters, and we do not collect them; nobody requires these data from us,” said Narimzhan Tashbaev.
Adybek Nabiev, head of the organizational department of local government in Batken Oblast State Administration, said: “Under the new law, we assist only on technical issues. The Aiyl okmotu and district councils provide polling facilities, cabins, furniture, telephones, faxes, computers, and fire-fighting devices. We monitor preparations for the elections. At this time, in the Batken Province, there were opened 198 polling stations. (In the past year there were 193.) They are provided with everything necessary for normal operation. We have a schedule, and all work is done according to it. So far we manage to do everything in time.
“There have not been any complaints about the organization of the electoral process from territorial or precinct election commissions. At the end of each week, mayors and districts heads meet in the regional administration and report on the progress of the organizational work and discuss their next steps. We are all involved in the process of preparing for elections.
“I think that the use of administrative resource in the forthcoming election is impossible, because we support only on technical issues, and the election commissions solve other issues itself. The administration does not affect the electoral commission; its role in this election is not important.”
Esentur Omuraliev, head of the organizational department of local government in Naryn Oblast State Administration, believes that the administration “has implemented a government decree № 390 of July 14, 2011. The Regional State Administration together with the local administration helped territorial election commissions in addressing organizational and technical issues. We have already provided the territorial and precinct election commissions with all facilities, computers, printers and fax machines. At the moment, in the Naryn region, 165 polling stations have been formed, and all stations are already operating in the premises provided by the administration. In addition, six regional commissions have been established. They also provide facilities and technical equipment, furniture, iron boxes, safes and telephones.
“No complaints on the organization of the election have been received from members of territorial electoral commissions. We comply with all regulations.
“I give you my word that the administrative resource will not be used; it will be excluded entirely. There were no signs of using this resource. Special headquarters have been opened throughout the oblast, and they carry out organizational work. The election campaign has not yet started. It will start from September 25,” said Omuraliev.
Representatives of the territorial election commissions
Marziyat Akbaeva, Secretary of Chui territorial election commission, outlined some challenges in preparing for the election: “Firstly, too little money is allocated to publication of information on the election in print media. They should have taken into account the prices of local newspapers. It turned out that we sent only one article to a newspaper, and all money was spent for that. Simply put, we have not enough money to publish very important material. Now, there are elections of heads of village administrations, and we should inform people about many things, but we cannot do it, because we have no money.
“Secondly, before creating territorial election commissions (I’m not talking about the district commissions), they should have provided TECs with office equipment, so that we didn’t have to ask for that. They later will give us fax machines, but before that period, it turns out that we are working in offices of the state administration. Of course, they assist us. But the administration also cannot deprive its employees of office equipment, so they give us old equipment, and we must work with it.
“Third, many members of election commissions refuse to work. It’s an urgent problem not only in our district. We created 30 sites, and representatives of political parties and the public are members of district election commissions. The Central Election Commission pays salaries to the secretary and chairman of the district commission. Political parties also reward their representatives, because they are interested in the fact that their representatives work in district election commissions, and members of election commissions do not get anything. Why nobody thought about them, because they must work for two years? They have no interest, and many of them write applications, asking to relieve them from their duties. Only one month has passed since the establishment of district election commissions, and I have 25 cases of refusal.
“There are no problems with specification of voters lists. Everything works well. Now executive secretaries of village administrations work with a system administrator of the “Shailoo” system and compare the lists. They provide data every day. In the future, we will receive rough lists and distribute them among district election commissions. So far we have not received statements for the voters, so members of election commissions are making census of voters just for themselves.
“The administration carries out all our assignments, there is no problem with that. Here we have responsible people, and all is well,” said Marziyat Akbaeva.
Regarding the use of administrative resource, Akbaeva said the following: “So far, no complaints from voters about the administrative resource have been reported. There is no sign of use of administrative resources. We know our rights, our status, and nobody can make us do something illegal,” said Marziyat Akbaeva.
Erkin Akmatova, chairman of the Naryn Territorial Election Commission, said about the problems encountered by the territorial election commission: “In the Naryn region, there have been established 34 polling precinct commissions. All sites are provided with telephone service, facilities and necessary resources (stationary boxes, light boxes, stands for putting up the list of voters.)
“There are problems in funding and organizational parts. Only 2,000 soms were allocated for stationary for the territorial election commission for four months. The TEC is provided with office equipment, but we need a copier, printer, and cartridges. We pay ourselves for refilling ink cartridges, because 2,000 soms have been already spent.
“Members of the TEC and PEC are dissatisfied with remuneration, so they refuse to be members of committees. The salaries are only for secretaries and chairmen of committees. In some places, there are no backups of PEC members. In the precinct election commissions, there are problems with teachers, as the basic salary at school is over 15 thousand soms, and they do not want to work.
“Few resources have been allocated for trips. We still have not received funds for the PEC. We received only informational materials, such as laws and regulations.
“With regard to administrative resource, no pressure on voters and election commissions has been observed. Complaints from voters on the use of this resource have not been received,” said Erkin Akmatova.
Abdyrahman Aitmatov, chairman of the Osh territorial election commission, told about preparations for the elections in Osh: “Preparing for the presidential election goes well. The socio-political situation in the city is stable, people are working, and there are no problems with preparation.
“In some facilities provided as the polling station, there were no lights, telephones, and the city hall right now addresses these issues. We are keeping the situation under control. City Hall carries out all obligations on logistics. The interaction goes on smoothly, and headquarters in logistics were established. By law, City Hall has no right to interfere in the affairs of Election Commission, as it is obliged to provide assistance only in terms of organization.
“All of the lists of voters are already hanging on stands in the precinct election commissions. We still have plenty of time. The PECs work in full; they refine lists of voters. Ten days before the election campaign, we will stop refining and will post the approved lists of voters. We keep the schedule.
“With regard to administrative resource, the signs of the administrative pressure have not been observed, because representatives of political parties observe the process of preparing for elections. The territorial election commissions will not allow the pressure. We stand firmly on our feet. Complaints in this regard on the part of voters were not reported. In addition, elections to local councils have been canceled, so all is calm,” said Abdyrahman Aitmatov.
Barisa Turdubaeva, head of Jalal-Abad territorial election commission, told about the work of the territorial election commission: “All the works are on schedule. City Hall provided necessary equipment. We have trained members of the territorial electoral commissions, and now we hold the training for secretaries and chairmen of the PECs. We also work with the voter lists. Precinct Electoral Commissions are provided with lists of voters for clarification. The system administrator makes adjustments to the lists.
“Soon, the CEC will send samples of applications on voting on the site, which voters must fill out in triplicate. When we distribute papers of notice, we will be able to find out who is not registered in micro-sites and inform voters that they need to come to the site with passports and register in a single list. We will begin to deliver the notice 30 days before the election,” said Barisa Turdubaeva.
Turdubaeva also commented on the use of administrative resource: “Signs of the administrative pressure were not reported this year; nobody has come to us. Two months have passed since the creation of the commission, and we have not seen the mayor during that period. We ourselves go to the city hall and say what we need. If this continues, the election will be held transparently.”
Seitkazy Asylanov, chairman of the territorial commission of Batken, said: “At the moment, we have organized 44 polling stations. Initially, we have received applications on participation in elections as members of election commissions from 794 people, including 237 people from political parties and 558 people are representatives of the people. After the draw, 408 members of election commissions remained, including 213 people-representatives of the people and 195 from political parties. To date, 44,562 voters are recorded in a single list, but this figure will change.
Employees of state administration gave us an office, and representatives of ayil okmotu help us organize polling stations. At the moment, all 44 polling stations work, I have contacts with the chairmen of all the sites, I often contact them.
“So far, we have no problems in the organization of the electoral process; we are provided with an office and office equipment. The PECs are also provided with all the conditions for normal operation. So far, no violations on the part of candidates have been identified. No one applied to us with complaints about the use of administrative resource. We have a registration book of voters, but nobody turned to us with complaints. I do not think that this election will use the administrative resource. We will do everything to prevent any attempt to use it.”
Kubatbek Alapaev, chairman of the Talas Territorial Election Commission, also spoke about the work of the TEC: “According to the schedule, we have already formed precinct election commissions. To date, there are responsible people at each polling station for preparing for the election. Local authorities set up headquarters in support of the elections, and it includes all the regional structures and law enforcement bodies. They contribute to our work. In addition, the TEC is working at full strength. We have an office, and we are provided with a fax machine, telephone and a safe. The other day we even made repairs in the office.
“The local government organized a house-to-house canvassing, and all data are entered into the database “Shailoo.” In addition, precinct election commissions self-initiated at local district councils, seeing that the responsibility will rest with the CEC. In this regard, they work in micro-sites and conduct interviews with people and thus facilitate the refinement of the lists.
“As such, there are no problematic issues as people have experience in holding elections. There are some problems with members of the election commissions. They refuse to work, because salaries are only for the chairmen and secretaries of the commissions. Many refused, citing the fact that they can spend the time to harvest. But we convince them. For example, I tell them that within two years there will be other elections. Perhaps, their work at the next election will be paid. If they leave now, they run the risk that in future they will not be accepted as members of the commission. Some stay and some say they will do their business, but we have a reserve of 20 people,” said Alapaev.
Kubatbek Alapaev also commented on how the TEC will stop the use of administrative resources: “The Talas territorial election commission established a special group to prevent and detect illegal activities. To date, no incidents or ill-timed promotional activities have been reported.
“Complaints from voters were not reported. Everyone wants to vote, no administrative pressure on voters and members of the TEC has been exercised, no signs have been identified,” said Kubatbek Alapaev.
Tatiana Kashlakova, secretary of the Issyk-Kul district election commission, said on its territorial commission: “Preparations for the elections are going well, according to the plan. There are no problems so far. We have organized all voting stations with a reserve, and the information was already published in a newspaper. We were provided with two rooms, computers, and everything we need.
“There is a problem with the members of election commissions, because of the fact that their work is not paid.
“Violations on the part of candidates have not been observed. So far, complaints, either in written or oral form, have not been received,” said Kashlakova.
Representatives of civil society on the administrative resource
Regional representatives of the coalition “For Democracy and Civil Society”
Talking about preparations for the election in the regions, regional representatives of the Coalition noted that territorial commissions have already begun their work in almost all oblasts, while precinct commissions are at the stage of formation. Long-term observers have also begun to participate in trainings on election law and are almost ready to work, and now there is a process of preparing short-term observers coordinators.
Erkemurat Asanov, regional representative of the coalition “For Democracy and Civil Society” in the Osh region, believes that the risk of using administrative resource exists: “But now, no one can say for sure about it. We have such a psychology, and previous elections have shown that the power authorities always use administrative resource. As a high-ranking official is now running for presidency, the risk of administrative resource remains, although government officials claim otherwise.
“In my opinion, even if administrative resource is applied, it will happen to a lesser degree than before. But sometimes, local authorities even without order can provide such a clumsy assistance.
“So far, the signals on the use of administrative resources have not been reported. This is usually done a day or two days before the election, or on Election Day, and during the campaign.
“But it should be noted that now, behind the scene, there are meetings of party leaders and party members. For example, some members of the parliamentary parties have been active before the official launch and actively work with the population,” said Erkemurat Asanov.
Shamil Murat, regional representative of the coalition “For Democracy and Civil Society” in the Talas region, said the following on the use of administrative resource: “I cannot categorically state that administrative resource will not be applied. But it is unlikely that it will be used for one hundred percent, because this election will be observed by a lot of people from political parties and non-governmental organizations, which will monitor this process. I think they will not allow using some administrative pressure.
“Even if there is a fact of using administrative resource, we still have freedom of speech, and journalists are also looking for evidence of use of this resource, and it will be known to all voters,” said Shamil Murat.
Shamil Murat also spoke about the challenges faced in preparing for the elections: “There has been some discontent on the voter lists. Members of election commissions are confused, because there is no information about how this will be done. There are rumors that the commission, which will check the voter lists, will include a police officer, an employee of the municipal agency and a member of the territorial election commission. But they also do not know how it will take place, and whether it will be paid or not. In addition, many citizens do not have information about a single list of voters. People do not know that, if their names are not in voters list, they must go and write an application 10 days before the election. Because of the lack of information, many voters will not be able to vote. The Coalition explains innovations in the law to citizens, but we have insufficient resources for such a broad campaign.”
Adilet Eshenov, regional representative of the coalition “For Democracy and Civil Society” in the Naryn region, also believes that the upcoming election will be held without much pressure: “According to our observations, no pressure on the part of state authorities has been exercised. Therefore, we believe that this election will take place without administrative resource. Our long-term observers are working in each district, and so far, they did not report any fraud or irregularities,” said Adilet Eshenov.
Batyrbek Shukurov, regional representative of the coalition “For Democracy and Civil Society” in the Batken region, said on the possibility of the use of administrative resource: “Everybody says that administrative resource will not be used, but at the same time, there are rumors that all the government representatives had to join one of the parties, whose leader is running for presidency. Senior officials in our area are also in this party, so there is concern that administrative resource can be used.”
Mambetimin Omurakunov, regional representative of the coalition “For Democracy and Civil Society” in the Issyk-Kul region, says that administrative resource will be used this time as well: “Most likely, administrative resource will be used this time. There is such a forecast, because some local government bodies and officials are oriented toward a famous statesman. Now everything is quiet, but it is clear that administrative resource will be used,” said Omurakunov. He also stressed, “people say that some candidates are handing out money, but so far this fact has not been confirmed.”
Heads of NGOs
Dinara Oshurakhunova, the head of the coalition “For Democracy and Civil Society”, expressed her opinion on administrative resource: “I hope the time when administrative resource was actively used and we all knew who would become the next president has gone and will never return. Some of the candidates today have the status of a state official. Of course, it is clear that they will always try to use administrative resource. I think now certain people in some state agencies will work for these candidates. In this sense, administrative resource will not be used for promoting only one candidate, as it happened before. Different candidates will use it in a different way.
“However, the parliamentary election has shown that if there is no power of one person, money begins to play a very significant role. It is difficult to threaten people, but it is easy to bribe them. Similar situations will take place during the presidential election – less administrative resources will be used, but more financial contributions will be made.
“It is no secret that candidates who have not been even registered already travel to regions and meet voters as MPs or state officials, although the campaign should start only on September 25. But these presidential contenders say that it is not a pre-election campaign, that these meetings have long been planned, etc.,” noted Oshurakhunova.
Dinara Oshurakhunova also paid attention to the fact that candidates try to know the sentiments of the voters: “We have heard many times that people are invited to restaurants, especially during Orozo Ait. It is such a simple method. But we all do understand that like this, one can find out about people’s opinion and sentiments concerning the election and rating of a candidate.
“Probably, there will be open propaganda done not by the candidates themselves but by their assistants. But we will monitor this process.
“Now, there are already banners with highlighted words. We cannot blame the presidential candidates in violating the law, because these norms are not clearly written in the law. Every time the law is discussed in Jogorku Kenesh, politicians “adjust” it to their own needs. As a result, there are such unclear norms, and we cannot say that a politician has violated something,” said Oshurakhunova.
Dinara Oshurakhunova also commented on the promise of state authorities not to use administrative resource: “Of course, any government or parliament will say that administrative resource will not be used. They must say like that. The problem is how to monitor all cases of violations and how to bring those who violate to court. As long as there is no clear responsibility for that, as long as municipal employees have to work for certain candidates, and there is no punishment for that, words will remain words, and no action will be undertaken. Of course, the power authorities should say that administrative resource will not be used, but these words should be confirmed by actions,” noted Oshurakhunova.
Ainura Usupbekova, executive director of the association “Taza Shailoo,” also believes that administrative resource will be used to a lesser extent this time: “Before the parliamentary election of 2010, administrative resources had been actively used. During the parliamentary election, that resource was used very carefully, however, to a much lesser extent than previously.
“As for the upcoming presidential election, I cannot say that administrative resource will not be used, because we already see elements of its use, and one of the candidates has more opportunities to use it than the other ones,” said Usupbekova.
Usupbekova commented on the signs of using administrative resource at this stage: “We can see it in PR-campaigns and in the use of air time on the state TV companies. We do not know if candidates travel in regions at the expense of the state budget. But we can clearly say that one candidate has more opportunities than the other ones. I think despite all the statements that administrative resource will not be used it will be used anyway. But so far, we received no complaints about it. Our regional observers monitor the process.
“I cannot say confidently what will happen in the future. We all hope that there will be no administrative resource, because it can provoke conflict situations.
“Unfortunately, we see that we do not learn lessons from history, and it is a personal matter of each candidate whether to use administrative resource or not.
“The Association will monitor the issue of using administrative resource, and if administrative resource will be used too much, we will turn to the CEC. Anyway, we will inform, and our weekly reports will be sent to CEC.”
Aziza Abdirasulova, head of the human rights center “Kylym Shamy,” also believes that administrative resource will be used much less than previously. “There will not be centralized use, but most likely local officials will do something to promote certain candidates.
“Probably, they will not use administrative resource openly, as it used to be earlier, but anyway, any official has subordinates, so administrative resource will be still used, although not to the extent it was used before,” said Abdirasulova.
Responding to the question on administrative pressure, Abdirasulova noted the following: “Recently, we went to the south of the republic, and I did not notice any sign of administrative pressure. Headquarters are being formed, and teams begin to work. There are passive candidates, whom nobody knows. Pre-election preparation is going on. People are already in anticipation of the pre-election race. Many people asked us about the candidates. If earlier people were more interested to know, which candidates was from which tribe, now many of them are interested to know about the past of a candidate, his merits and faults, and what he can do for Kyrgyzstan. And I was glad to hear such questions. People also want to know if the election will pass smoothly, if there will be stability and order.
“I haven’t heard about pressure from local authorities. We visited several administrative agencies, some law enforcement bodies and met various people, teachers, social workers, and nobody mentioned about administrative pressure,” said Abdirasulova.
Aziza Abdirasulova also commented on the statements of government officials promising not to use administrative resource: “I think they will try to keep their promises. It is possible that the President and Prime Minister themselves will not initiate the use of administrative resource, but nobody knows how it will be implemented at local level. One more question about legality. Those candidates that are on high-ranking positions must leave their jobs, go to vacation or quit temporarily their job. People will have more confidence in such candidates. People say openly that high officials should not participate in the election as candidates.
“Nobody should use administrative resource, people should act in accordance with their conscience,” noted Aziza Abdirasulova.
Tolekan Ismailova, head of the human rights center “Citizens against corruption,” believes that “each election in Kyrgyzstan was of a specific nature, depending on the political environment.”
“After the June events in 2010, we have been living in another political system, and it requires new leaders with new tactics and smart tools of working with the voter.
“After we moved to semi-parliamentary system, we have more candidates from political parties. They have their own people in the Ayil Okmotu and precinct election commissions. I can say officially that all political parties are using administrative resource.
“I would suggest having long-term observation, so that there would be accountability of various parties, beginning from mass media and ending with the NGO-sector, which should monitor the activities of local self-administrations. Only then we will have a complete picture of the situation,” said Tolekan Ismailova.
Dmitry Orlov, director general of the analytical center “Strategy East-West,” believes that “each leadership in our country likes to give promises to be honest, but in reality it acts in the following way: ‘Yes, it is a bad thing to do, but the idea itself is too good.’
“Thus, temptation to use administrative resource is always there. The extent to which it will be used is another question. Administrative resource is always used, and not only in our country. Even in democratic countries of the world it is used quite often. But there influence of administrative resource does not exceed 10 percent, while in our country it can be up to 50 percent.
“Anyway, if a current state official wins, honestly or dishonestly, his opponents will say that he is using administrative resource. People already say like that. Politicians may work with people in order to make them believe that elections will be dishonest. I do not idealize the current power. However, it is possible that this election will be transparent. But experience has shown that people do not believe in transparent elections, since administrative resource has been used too often in the past.
“I think if the current authorities use administrative resource openly, it will be a problem for them, because the election may end with protest rallies in the best case, and with shootings in the worst case,” noted Orlov.
Saying of administrative resource at this stage, Dmitry Orlov noted: “Everything depends on how we look at that. A high-ranking official is now traveling around the country, but we do not know in which status: as a candidate or as an acting official, who is obliged to travel in the country and learn about the problems? There are too many vague moments. Nobody knows how it all will end. Anyway, it is no longer possible to use administrative resource openly, because the country has been sitting on a barrel of gunpowder since 2004. And it is hard to imagine what can happen if they use this resource openly.”
Dmitry Orlov also commented on the statements of the government about non-use of administrative resource: “Of course, everything depends on how it will happen at local level. They are all thinking of how to remain in the current positions, and therefore, they will try to do something “good” for their bosses. Experience has shown that manipulation with figures has begun already at the level of precinct election commissions. I have seen it myself in the documents on a previous election.
“But do you know what is even worse? Voter lists. Now it is being determined who can and who cannot vote, and there is much room for playing with votes. I cannot say that their promises are unrealizable. They are. But currently it is difficult to keep them properly,” concluded Dmitry Orlov.
Igor Shestakov, editor-in-chief of the analytical website “Region.kg,” emphasized: “Under Akayev and Bakiyev, we knew in advance that administrative resource will give chances to the current presidents to win up to 90 percent of votes. Now, it is impossible. People in power, who will participate as candidates, have no such mechanisms today. I think they are not interested in that, because they understand that it is impossible under current political circumstances, when political parties can quickly know about any violation.
“At the same time, I believe that administrative resource will still be used, although to a lesser extent. I think many MPs will help leaders of their parties to get as many votes as possible. However, administrative resource will not be used for promotion of only one candidate. I think this resource will be hidden. They will use it in a non-public and diplomatic way,” said Shestakov.
Igor Shestakov also commented on the possibility of administrative pressure at this stage: “We still have the so-called ‘state printed press.’ PTRC remained a public company. Yes, maybe representatives of the opposition now have air time on TV, but it is a normal thing for a parliamentary republic. This can, probably, be perceived as the use of administrative resource.
“We also should see how a highly-ranked official will conduct his election campaign. His appearance in the media space is a normal thing, because he is the head of the government. But we must see whether all candidates will have equal access to media space, I mean, first of all, the PTRC and official media. As for state officials – members of political parties, they will keep on working on their positions. This can also be perceived by the public as the use of administrative resource, because these state officials depend highly on the result of the election.
“The same applies to the CEC, which was formed of representatives of political parties and four representatives of the president. But again, we all remember scandals around the composition of the CEC. This election will serve as a catalyst, which will show whether we got rid of administrative resource or not, whether we succeeded in the struggle against corruption and promoting the interests of only certain candidates. People will speak about all that, and hopefully everything will end peacefully, without violent protest rallies. But today we see that something is going on with the judicial system. The MPs and the President cannot come to a common decision about who should be a member of the Supreme Court or Constitutional Chamber. I think independence of judges during the election campaign and announcement of the election results is an important issue. As long as there are such things, there is a risk that the election will not be transparent.
“I think all candidates should understand that if the principle of justice is not observed, they can repeat the destiny of previous presidents who won elections, having 93-94 percent, and then they had to flee the country,” emphasized Shestakov.
Igor Shestakov also expressed his opinion on the statements of the leadership of the country about non-use of administrative resource: “First of all, I repeat that it depends on the candidates that represent the parties in power, because they are interested in that and will be able to control the members of their parties. For example, heads of districts, oblasts and cities are representatives of some political parties, i.e., they have their jobs thanks to the fact that they belong to these political parties. One can easily understand that, in order not to lose their jobs, they can say: ‘Yes, we will not interfere with election process.’ In this sense, much will depend on directives, which they will receive from their party leaders. Personal interests also play their role here. Even if a party leader is not interested in using administrative resource and understands that it will only spoil his image, much will depend on his supporters who work in the system of public administration. There is no guarantee that they will not act in a way, which would tarnish the reputation of the candidate from that political party. Therefore, I believe that it is better to rely not on membership in political parties but on the professional qualities of state managers,” concluded Shestakov.
Grigoriy Mikhailov, correspondent of the Russian information agency “Regnum,” believes that it is possible that administrative resource will be used: “Anyway, they will try to use it, and candidates, at least those who have access to power leverages and use of administrative resource, will use everything that will help them win. The other question is whether the situation will allow using it, because administrative resource is kind of divided after members of the parliamentary coalition divided all branches of power. But for the past few months, one of the leading parties has received major positions in the government. So, there will be attempts to use it.
“Officially, they will say that it should not be used. But in reality, there will be some closed-door meetings where it will be said which candidate should be supported, because in regions public officials may support not necessarily a candidate who is in power now but a candidate who is closer to them (be it financial interest, or another factor). The fact that authorities speak of non-use of administrative resource is pure populism. No matter how many such statements have been made, the situation remains the same.
“Even now, some state officials begin to speak at, for example, religious events. Trips to regions are used not for solving some concrete tasks but for PR-campaign. Some candidates have more opportunities than the others, and they do use them now.
“The set of administrative resources will be even wider than in previous years, because political technologists that are hired must provide some new methods of work in order to attract the attention of voters to certain candidates,” emphasized Mikhailov.
Azamat Tynaev, an independent journalist, believes that administrative resource will be used: “The nature of the administrative system is to serve the interests of ruling elites. But here, there is an important point connected with the fact that after the last reform of public administration, when our Parliament became a weighty center of power, unlike in previous regimes, the term of power became something vague. Now we cannot say that power in Kyrgyzstan belongs to one person. Even if we look at administrative power at the local level, i.e., the so called local self-administration, city councils, and village councils, we know that the administrative territory of Kyrgyzstan was proportionally divided between ruling parties, which constitute the coalition majority.
“On the one hand, we can say that administrative resource will be used, but on the other hand, we should ask ourselves a question: for the benefit of which party will this resource be used, because, as we know, only one party from the coalition refused to nominate a candidate for presidency.
“Judges and the judicial system appeared to be the most vulnerable part of the administrative resource. Because, first of all, it is too much corrupt, and second, the reputation of the judges is bad, and it all makes representatives of judicial system too dependent and manipulated.
“The second vulnerable part of this resource is the group of state-depended employees – teachers, doctors, employees of housing and public services. They are also completely dependent on state authorities.
“The third part which will be involved in the use of administrative resource includes law-enforcement and defence agencies. We know how our soldiers vote – under the control of their commanders.
“And the forth part of administrative resource includes employees of central agencies – ministries, agencies and state committees, as well as employees of local self-government.
“Of course, all these parts of the resource will be involved. The only thing is that political parties are now controlling various agencies, regions and districts of Kyrgyzstan, and many things depend on them. But now there is no single central source of coordination of administrative resource use. And it is an important moment.
“Of course, they will try to use this resource in secret, but it will soon become public. Our human rights organizations and various NGOs write reports where they describe all complaints in detail, including the facts when public officials are forced to hold campaign in favor of a certain candidate,” said Tynaev.
Answering the question on whether there is open use of the administrative resource at this stage, Tynaev noted: “There have not been evidences of that. We, as journalists, also actively monitor this issue, and one should say that so far, the resource has not been used. But probably the situation itself has not reached the culmination. We know that on the eve of any serious election, employees of state agencies begin to receive official housing and salaries. The retired people begin to receive their pensions for three months. Let’s see whether it will happen this time again.
“Yes, there is criticism against a high-ranking official. Many people say that he is using this resource. On the one hand, they are right, but on the other hand, this exists even in countries with high levels of democracy. I think it is an unsolvable dilemma: what to do with state officials who participate in election campaigns. One the one hand, everybody should have equal rights, but on the other hand, somebody must govern the country. No matter whether we like it or not, this candidate must travel around the country. He must open new production, check construction process at important objects, monitor implementation of projects, talk to the population, etc. This is a complicated issue. It seems like there are violations, but it is difficult to imagine that this state official should leave all his functions for 2-3 months,” said Tynaev.
Azamat Tynaev also said about the statements of the leadership of the country about non-used of administrative resource: “I think, the only guarantee here is a strong civil society and free media. So far, the situation here is good. Mass media are free enough, and I think nothing will prevent the media from implementing its functions. As for civil society, it is quite active: every day there are some protest meetings before the buildings of the Parliament and of the government. So, I think everything depends on the degree of organization and solidarity of the citizens themselves. If it is necessary, they should react and name those who use the administrative resource. Everything should be balanced like that. Everybody should keep an eye on possible violations.”