Russia pledges $30 mln loan for Kyrgyzstan

19th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Russia planned to provide Kyrgyzstan with a $30 million loan as he pledged his country's continued support for the volatile Central Asian nation ahead of this year's polls.

Speaking to his visiting Kyrgyz counterpart Almazbek Atambayev late Friday, Putin said Russia had already given Bishkek $30 million in financial assistance last year as the country was struggling with a budget deficit.

"The terms for providing an interest-free loan in the amount of 30 million dollars are being agreed now," Putin said in remarks released by his government.

Kyrgyzstan is preparing for presidential elections in October, part of a transition after an uprising last year that toppled previous president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, and analysts say Atambayev was in Moscow to seek more economic help from Russia to avert social tensions.

A report in Russia's Kommersant newspaper said ahead of the leaders' meeting that Russia was unhappy with Kyrgyzstan over a number of issues including the Central Asian nation's plans to host a US military training centre and Bishkek's apparent reluctance to sell stakes in key enterprises to Moscow.

Ahead of its sowing season, Kyrgyzstan wants duty-free fuel from Russia but whether Bishkek receives any discounts would depend on what Atambayev had to offer in return, the report said, citing sources.

At the meeting with Putin, Atambayev said his country was ready to sell a 75 percent stake in its national gas company Kyrgyzgaz to Russia's Gazprom and decided against increasing rental fees for a Russian military base in the country.

Atambayev indicated however that he did not have an immediate decision for other issues like those regarding a US training centre in Kyrgyzstan, saying that unlike his predecessors he would not make promises he could not fulfill.

Before his ouster last April, Bakiyev promised Russia he would close a US military base in his country but then reversed his decision prompting Moscow to support his rivals during an uprising.

Despite a number of concessions Atambayev said Kyrgyzstan was willing to offer Russia, Putin did not say publicly whether his government was ready to provide Bishkek with the duty-free fuel.

© 2011 AFP

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