Medvedev Gets Deal on Kyrgyz Bases

President Dmitry Medvedev got an agreement for the development of military bases in Kyrgyzstan, already home to an Air Force base, as he met with Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in Bishkek on Thursday.

In what appeared to be a tradeoff, Gazprom on the same day said it would consider buying a stake in the national gas line operator in the Central Asian nation, which has only small proven gas reserves.

Russia has used the Kant air base since October 2003, paying neither rent nor landing and takeoff fees to Kyrgyzstan, unlike the nearby airbase at Manas used by the United States, according to the Jamestown Foundation, an independent U.S-based research institution.

"Kyrgyzstan will continue in the future to provide all necessary conditions for the air base to effectively execute its functions," Bakiyev said at a news conference after talks with Medvedev, Interfax reported.

A joint statement signed by the presidents said the countries would develop Russian military installations in Kyrgyzstan.

As the presidents looked on, Gazprom chief Alexei Miller and Kyrgyz Industry, Energy and Fuel Minister Sapar Balkibekov signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate in the privatization of Kyrgyzgaz, Gazprom said in a statement.

Kyrgyzstan has proven gas reserves of 6 billion cubic meters, compared with Gazprom's planned output of 560 billion cubic meters this year.

It won licenses in February to explore for oil and gas at two Kyrgyz sites, but Miller said in the statement that any locally produced gas would go to the impoverished country's market. Kyrgyzstan produces 30 million cubic meters of gas every year.

Separately, Miller ruled out any share buyback by Gazprom as the stock market was at its lowest level in years. He also said it might not need to borrow through the first half of next year.

"As of today, Gazprom can, if necessary, finance its projects from its own revenues," he said.

As part of Medvedev's visit, the Kyrgyz government agreed to restructure debts owed by a uranium treatment plant controlled by billionaire Viktor Vekselberg's Renova. The company bought 72.28 percent of the Karabalta Ore Mining Combine last year and restarted purifying the radioactive ore that comes from Kazakhstan, one of the world's largest uranium miners.

Medvedev was in Bishkek ahead of a summit with other leaders from the Commonwealth of Independent States on Friday.