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Number of Illegally Issued Passports in Kyrgyzstan Reaches 40,000

Friday 22 May 2015

Bishkek (24.kg news agency) – The Interior Ministry claimed that the number of illegally issued passports in Kyrgyzstan reached 40,000. This was announced at a meeting of Ata Meken parliamentary faction.

According to the Interior Ministry, investigative measures to identify such passports are conducted. “The interrogation of the head and staff of the State Registration Service was held. At least 9 people arrested, one case was referred to the court. It turned out that some foreign nationals took our passports for 4-5 times”, they added.

Ata Meken asked how the head of the State Registration Service Alina Shaikova interrogated was. The Interior Ministry said that as a witness.

Kyrgyzstan has a comprehensive public administration, and has mostly continued the Soviet Union’s systems for registering personal information. Kyrgyzstan, like most other previous Soviet republics, is a document community. Passports and ID documents are essential for access to legal employment, public services and economic rights. The supply of government-issued personal documents is basically good, and there is a close correlation between various documents such as passports, ID cards, residency registration (propiska), birth certificates, etc. One document is a prerequisite for obtaining another document.

However, many Kyrgyz do not have passports that are approved as travel documents, because they do not need to travel abroad. Furthermore Kyrgyz do not need passports to travel to Russia for work. Since 2000, Russia and Kyrgyzstan have had a mutual agreement on visa-free entry and travel using a domestic passport/national ID card.

Kyrgyz citizens generally have a practical need for a domestic passport/national ID card in order to register residence, get access to public services, pay taxes, open bank accounts, participate in elections, etc. It is legally required to identify oneself to the police, but such ID checks are generally uncommon, so people do not necessarily need to carry their ID cards/passports. People who cannot present a passport when checked can be detained for up to 15 days.

It is unknown whether it is difficult for individual groups of Kyrgyz citizens to obtain passports. UNHCR estimates that over 17,000 people in Kyrgyzstan have unresolved citizenship, and that a lack of passports and other ID documents mainly is a problem for this group.

During the introduction of new passports and ID cards in 2004-2006 there was a shortage of passports. Subsequently Kyrgyz with expired passports experienced problems renewing their passports. However, it should generally no longer be a problem that people must wait to obtain passports and ID cards and thus lack valid identification or travel documents.

Violent clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan in May 2010 led to many passports and ID documents being destroyed. In April 2011, the lack of documents was still a problem for a large number of people. Still, lack of documents was not mentioned by OSCE as a problem preventing people entitled to vote from voting in the presidential election in October 2011.

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