The Bishkek municipality’s plan to build a cable car line to solve transport problems in Kyrgyzstan’s capital has received a mixed response from the city residents. Many believe the proposed project is too expensive and will not achieve the declared goal of providing comfortable transport options. In January, the Mayor of Bishkek, Aibek Junushaliev visited Switzerland to meet with Roland Bartholet, CEO of the engineering company, Bartholet Maschinenbau AG, with the parties signing an agreement and approving a plan to build a cable car line in Bishkek. Bishkek’s Deputy Mayor, Maksatbek Sazykulov said this week that the project’s designer is expected to arrive from Switzerland late in February, that construction may begin in May or June, and the line could be in operation in the third quarter of 2025. According to the deputy mayor, the line is planned to stretch for six kilometers from north to south along a major central avenue, have five stations and 65 cars, and a daily capacity of up to 100,000 passengers. The approximate cost of the project is $50m-$60m. Bishkek City Council member, Kadyrbek Atambayev, believes the project to build a cable car line leaves many unanswered questions. “Cable cars are usually used in areas with very rough terrain, where other modes of transport cannot function effectively. In our case, in the absence of significant natural obstacles or large water barriers inside the city, the use of a cable car line does not provide significant advantages over existing types of urban transport,” Atambayev wrote on Facebook. Atambayev stated that the cost of construction and maintenance of the cable car line significantly exceeds the cost for city buses. “Six kilometers of cable line [would] cost of up to $60m… $100m allowed Bishkek to purchase 1,000 buses last year,” he stated. The city of Bishkek’s press service earlier called the cable line project an important step in the modernization of urban infrastructure aimed at providing comfortable transport options for the people of the city.
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The debate on the need for worldwide regulation of artificial intelligence (AI) is gaining momentum, given that over the past year AI has become a key tool for millions of people. With a growing number of organizations applying AI in various fields, including medicine, politics and judicial decisions, the urgent question is how to integrate AI into legislation. In Central Asia, in 2020 the National Bank of Kyrgyzstan authorized remote identification of individuals at banks using AI, machine learning and other predictive algorithms to process customer biometric data. Bishkek also introduced a facial recognition system based on artificial intelligence which allows data about wanted persons to be entered, and cameras to automatically identify them and transmit information to law enforcement. Artificial intelligence has also found its application in the political process. In 2020, the Mekenim Kyrgyzstan Party used a digital bot farm during the elections which generated approximately 150 profiles a day, automatically wrote comments and then self-liquidated. In Tajikistan, where the use of AI is not widespread, MegaFon stands out for its introduction of the Dono chatbot in 2019. This artificial interlocutor interacts with around 14,000 subscribers per day, freeing humans from routine tasks and allowing them to deal with more complex issues. In Uzbekistan, meanwhile, the government is taking active measures to stimulate the development of AI technologies. A presidential decree has established comprehensive steps towards the digitization of the economy and the social sphere. Digitization of government data in various sectors, such as justice, communications, finance, education and healthcare are becoming an integral part of the development strategy. The application of AI technologies, starting with image recognition and navigation systems, has already become a tangible part of task-solving in large enterprises, and the country is actively working to create an enabling environment to further expand the use of AI. In Kazakhstan, AI is being actively introduced in the judicial system, and over the past two years AI systems have been used to analyze court cases and predict their outcomes. The authorities believe that this approach helps minimize errors and improves the quality of justice. In the field of healthcare, since 2022 Kazakhstan has been successfully operating the PneumoNet program based on artificial intelligence. This program makes it possible to detect 17 of the most pathogenic lung diseases, including pneumonia, tuberculosis, and cancer. Currently, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan do not have specific laws regulating the creation and use of AI. Despite this, the Strategy for the Development of Artificial Intelligence in the Republic of Tajikistan until 2040 notes that during the implementation of the first and second stages of said strategy, legal, institutional and infrastructural frameworks will be developed, and the necessary specialists will be trained. Unlike its neighbors, Uzbekistan adopted a presidential decree "On measures to create conditions for the accelerated introduction of artificial intelligence technologies" as early as 2021. This document has become the legal foundation for the further development of AI in the country, defining its main directions. The resolution emphasizes the need to develop...
Net remittances sent by migrants back to Kyrgyzstan reached record levels at the end of 2023, according to the National Bank of the Kyrgyz Republic (NBKR). The bank's data shows that the record was achieved mostly due to a decrease in the outflow of money from the country. Migrant workers transferred $2.7 billion to Kyrgyzstan in 2023. According to statistics maintained by the NBKR, this is 12%, or $380 million less than a year earlier. However, the outflow of money from Kyrgyzstan in 2023 amounted to only $561 million - half as much as in 2022. That put the net inflow of funds remitted back into the country at $2.145 billion -- an all-time record. At the beginning of 2024, the NBKR included in its statistics separate information on transfers made through bank cards and electronic wallets. According to the regulator, these methods of sending and receiving money to and from abroad are now actively used along with traditional money-transfer systems. The NBKR report says that in 2023, the region from which Kyrgyz people transferred the most money was Russia, with $2.531 billion in remittances. The remaining $200 million came from a combination of the United States, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Germany, the United Kingdom and other countries. Russia accounts for more than 90% of all remittances to Kyrgyzstan. The lion's share is comprised of migrant workers providing for their families at home. In 2021, remittances accounted for over 30% of the GDP, making Kyrgyzstan one of most remittance-based economy in the world. Approximately one-fifth of the Kyrgyz labor force works abroad, almost exclusively in Russia. It should be noted that remittances to Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries from the Russian Federation increased after the so-called anti-war emigration. According to the Russian media, the volume of remittances by individuals from Russia to CIS countries after the Kremlin's attack on Ukraine in 2022 increased 2.5 times to $24.5 billion. The money was mainly transferred to Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Georgia. However, in 2023 the volume of remittances decreased by 1.4%. Meanwhile, the leader among Central Asian countries in terms of remittances is Uzbekistan. Labor migrants working in different foreign countries (mainly Russia) transferred more than $16 billion to this country in 2023. In Tajikistan, according to statistics, $5.7 billion was transferred last year - which is almost half of the republic's GDP. The volume of remittances to Kazakhstan for the 2023 reporting period amounted to $670 million dollars, declining by more than half on the previous year. At the same time, Kazakhs withdrew three times more money from the country than they received from abroad in 2023.
The country's hydro-meteorological center recently announced a storm warning, with worsening weather conditions in the mountains and the risk of avalanches. To ensure the safety of citizens, the military, together with rescuers and public utilities, are working to clear snow. Unstable weather is expected for almost all of February, according to forecasts. That means avalanches are to be expected. Kyrgyzstan's main cities, Bishkek and Osh are connected by a single 620-kilometer highway that passes through picturesque but dangerous mountain passes. It's here in the Too Ashuu and Ala Bel passes that many accidents occur. Multiple avalanches have occurred in the past few days, and temporary restrictions on the passage of heavy trucks have been put in place on some sections of the road, whilst other sections are completely closed until the threat is eliminated, according to the Ministry of Transport. Therefore, the military have been deployed. "Today the task force of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Kyrgyz Republic and artillery of the Ministry of Defense of the Kyrgyz Republic fired on the 247th, 255th and 250th kilometers of the Bishkek-Osh highway. As a result, 23,230 cubic meters of snow were dislodged," the Kyrgyz Emergencies Ministry said. According to rescuers, the shelling was delivered by a Soviet-made KC-19 anti-aircraft gun with live fragmentation projectiles. The gun's range is up to 15 kilometers.
Two new tourist stops have been opened in the south of Kyrgyzstan. One is beside the famous Uzgen Minaret, built almost a thousand years ago; the other is in the village of Barpy, on the highway between Bishkek and Osh. Stops like these exist to allow travelers to rest, charge electric cars and gadgets, have something to eat and drink, and take a shower. Kyrgyzstan’s first dedicated tourist stop was opened last spring in the town of Kemin in the north of the country, on the way to Issyk-Kul Lake. There are now four places for tourists to stop in the south of Kyrgyzstan — Barpy, Uzgen, Kara-Kul, and Jalal-Abad. Two others are currently being built in the Issyk-Kul Region.
Women whose rights are violated at home and at work will now be able to receive protection at a special center, according to the Kyrgyz Republic's Ministry of Labor, Social Security and Migration. It will be the first such center in Central Asia in support of female victims of violence, and will offer women and girls free psychological and legal assistance, as well as medical examinations. "When the one-stop shop opens, women and girls will receive all necessary services in one place, namely investigative and forensic medical examinations, as well as legal and psychological assistance," Deputy Minister of Labor, Social Security and Migration, Zhanyl Alybayeva said at a meeting with international organizations and human rights activists. Alybayeva stated that the UN Office on Drugs and Crime is providing technical support for the center's opening. According to statistics, the number of cases of domestic violence against women in Kyrgyzstan today remains high. In 2022, according to official data, 8,620 cases of domestic violence against women were registered, and in the first 10 months of 2023, there were more than 8,000 instances. The majority of those who contacted law enforcement are women between the age of 18 and 34. At the end of last year, parliament ratified the international convention on the eradication of violence and harassment in the field of labor. A draft law "on amendments to some legislative acts of the Kyrgyz Republic in the field of protection and defense against family, sexual and gender violence" was also put forward. In their debate, MPs noted that most women who suffer from violence do not turn to law enforcement, and therefore the real figures are almost certainly much higher. The new bill also stipulates that perpetrators of violence within the family must temporarily leave the dwelling they share with the victim. "After an act of violence within the family, victims usually move out to acquaintances or to crisis centers, and then the family collapses," MP Dinara Ashimova said. "With this bill, we propose that it should be the accused who has to leave. Even when he returns, there will be a greater likelihood that the spouses will reconcile and the family will be preserved." Currently, ratification of the international convention is awaiting President Japarov's signature.