Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov has chastised the US Secretary of State for criticizing a proposed law on foreign agents
Washington should audit NGOs that it funds in Kyrgyzstan for possible corruption instead of endorsing their claims that Bishkek is persecuting them, President Sadyr Japarov wrote in his response to concerns expressed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken over the Central Asian country’s treatment of US organizations. He also urged Washington to stop interfering in his country’s internal affairs.
In a rare diplomatic move on Monday, the Kyrgyz president’s spokesperson released the full text of the diplomatic missive that was sent to Blinken on Friday. It was his response to a critical letter that he received from the head of the US State Department in mid-January.
According to local media reports, the top US diplomat had expressed concerns regarding Kyrgyzstan’s proposed legislation that would tighten control over foreign-funded NGOs, potentially banning them from getting involved in domestic politics. In response, Japarov said Blinken’s intervention showed “signs of interference in the internal affairs of our state.”
The Kyrgyz bill would introduce a state-run registrar for NGOs that get foreign funding. Blinken reportedly warned Japarov that if it is signed into law, citizens of Kyrgyzstan would lose access to Western-funded education and healthcare programs, since some local organizations would rather shut down than keep working under the proposed rules.
The president claimed that some local NGOs and media were attacking the bill over a “fear of true tax control by the state.” He suggested that the US Department of State had been deceived by malign recipients of American grants.
”Over the past three decades, a ‘layer’ of non-governmental/non-profit organizations that receive funding from abroad has appeared in our country (in Kyrgyz society they are called ‘grant eaters’), whose leaders have turned them, in fact, into ‘family enterprises’, engaged in ‘sawing off’ the money coming from foreign sponsors,” the letter read.
He urged Blinken to order an audit of NGOs’ finances over the past 10 years to verify how American money was spent before jumping to conclusions.
Japarov stated that the system that his nation plans to implement is similar to what the US has had since 1938, when its Foreign Agent Registration Act was signed into law.
“In this regard, the question cannot help but arise: Why is it possible for you, but not for us?” the letter asked.
The amendments were first proposed to the parliament last year and have since passed a first reading. The majority of MPs support the bill, although some have criticized it for giving the authorities too much discretion in deciding which actions would be considered illegal. Imprecise wording carries the risk of corruption, opponents of the legislation have warned.
Japarov told Blinken that out of thousands of NGOs working in Kyrgyzstan, only a handful were ‘troublemakers’. allegedly trying to protect their grift under the guise of defending civil society.
”My only request is that nobody interfere in the internal affairs of our country,” he wrote.
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