Praise or pander: Kyrgyzstan honors the neighbors

Thu Sep 29, 2011 10:48am EDT
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BISHKEK (Reuters) - Nobel nominations and naming mountains after the leaders of its more powerful neighbors has one of Kyrgyzstan's parliamentarians in a snit over what he calls "toadyism"

Kyrgyzstan's parliament voted on Thursday to nominate Nursultan Nazarbayev, president of next-door neighbor Kazakhstan, for the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize, leading one lawmaker to slam the move as a sycophantic gesture aimed at flattering its rich neighbor.

Oil-rich Kazakhstan, Central Asia's largest economy where most of the 16.5 million population share ethnic Turkic roots and Muslim faith with Kyrgyzstan, has provided fuel, food and other assistance to its neighbor.

Impoverished Kyrgyzstan, a mountainous nation of 5.5 million which hosts U.S. and Russian military air bases, has seen two of its presidents deposed by bloody revolts since 2005. Over 400 people were killed in ethnic clashes last year.

Closing a daily session, Kyrgyz parliamentary speaker Akhmatbek Keldibekov put forward his own motion to nominate Nazarbayev for the Nobel Peace Prize next year for his "peace-building and global leadership in nuclear disarmament."

In 1991, Nazarbayev oversaw the closure of the Soviet nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk in eastern Kazakhstan. After the Soviet Union's demise the same year, Kazakhstan voluntarily gave up its nuclear arsenal, the world's fourth-largest.

A total 91 deputies of the 113 present voted to support the initiative of the Kyrgyz speaker, which he said would now be forwarded to Norway's parliament.

But in a nod to Kyrgyzstan's heavy economic dependence on its giant neighbor, deputy Kanybek Imanaliyev stood up and exclaimed: "This really looks like sheer toadyism!"

"This flattery ... had not been discussed before and appeared on the agenda all of a sudden at the last moment," he told Reuters. "It looks like some (Kyrgyz) politicians have vested interests in this."   Continued...