Kyrgyzstan: officials fired, reprimanded over EEU customs rules ‘failure’

BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan’s Prime Minister Sapar Isakov has sacked the country’s envoy to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), Sanjar Umetaliev, and reprimanded several top officials, RFE/RL reported.

The EEU is an economic and trade bloc including Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia.

In an order issued on January 8, Isakov also removed Umetaliev as deputy chief of staff to the Kyrgyz cabinet “due to [his] failure to properly outline the draft law on ratification of the EEU’s Customs Code Treaty,” the government’s website says.

Citing the same reason, Isakov also reprimanded Economy Minister Artyom Novikov, Deputy Economy Minister Bakkeldi Tyumenbaev, State Customs Service chief Kubanychbek Kulmatov, and Kulmatov’s deputy Zamirbek Niyazaliev.

In addition, several cabinet staff members were dismissed.

Member countries of the EEU signed a treaty on the grouping’s Customs Code in April 2017.

The dismissals and reprimands follow a bitter standoff between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan over long lines of vehicles and people seeking to cross the border formed in September.

Kazakhstan blamed the bottleneck on Kyrgyzstan, saying that crossings by trucks carrying cargo were slowed by Bishkek’s failure to bring its customs infrastructure up to EEU standards.

However, there was widespread speculation that Kazakhstan restricted movement across the border in response to public comments in which Kyrgyzstan’s president at the time, Almazbek Atambayev, criticized Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev and accused Kazakhstan of interfering in Kyrgyzstan’s October 15 presidential election.

Sergey Kwan


Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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