Kyrgyz energy sector to be shored up with Russian money

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Alena Artsimovich

2008-10-13

BISHKEK, Oct. 7—The 10th session of the Kyrgyz-Russian committee on trade and economic cooperation was held in Bishkek, with Kyrgyz Prime Minister Igor Chudinov in attendance. The Russian Federation was represented by energy minister Sergei Shmatko.

During the meeting, a draft energy cooperation agreement was drawn up based on Kyrgyzstan’s need for electricity imports from Russia to compensate for the fact that its hydroelectric power stations cannot generate enough electricity to meet domestic demand due to the low level of water in the Toktogul reservoir.

Moscow has not yet agreed to Kazakhstan’s proposal, but has promised financial assistance. The amount of the proposed investments and when it will become available has not yet been disclosed, however. Kyrgyzstan and Russia are also preparing to draw up a five-year economic cooperation programme, but the priorities for this programme have also not been disclosed.

Meanwhile, Chudinov stated that Russia has been and remains Kyrgyzstan’s main trading partner and accounts for a larger share of its volume of trade than any other country.

The timescale for Russia’s entry into the Dastan multinational corporation, formerly known as the Fizpriborov plant, was also discussed at the meeting. Dastan is one of the largest processing companies in the republic, and manufactured torpedoes during the Soviet era. Today it remains a profitable business with its main customer being India. Kyrgyzstan has offered to allow Russia to buy a 37 percent stake in the company, though Russia has insisted on 85 percent. According to an assessment, a controlling stake in Dastan would be worth $40 million [USD]. Russia intends to make its own assessment of the value of shares in the former factory.

Kyrgyzstan is negotiating with Russia over the creation of a jointly-owned business in a bid to repay some of its debts, which currently total $192 million. Since Kyrgyzstan does not have the cash to honour its repayment obligations, its creditors are being asked to consider alternative options.

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