Open Letter of Response of the Kumtor mine employees to Mr. Scott Perry

published: 06 July 2021

Mr. Perry,

We, many thousands of the Kumtor mine team that unites residents from different regions of our beloved Homeland, have read your letter dated July 1, 2021, with mixed feelings, reflecting our deep bewilderment, regret and disappointment. We can’t even say what in your words particularly unpleasantly struck all of us: your hypocrisy, lies or desire to evade liability by any means?

We, as hard working people who earn our daily bread by the sweat of our brow, reject your attempt to appropriate someone else’s success, when earlier in your “Message to the People of the Kyrgyz Republic” you stated the following simple fact as your revelation: “Almost half a century ago, Soviet geologists found gold in a remote area of the Tian-Shan mountain range, almost 4,000 meters above sea level.l.”

We would like to tell you, Mr. Perry, that neither you nor anyone else have anything to do with this. Neither directly nor indirectly.

This Kumtor gold deposit­­­­, one of the largest in the former Soviet Union, was discovered thanks to the hard and persistent work of our geologists, who found many natural resources in our fertile land.

You also claimed that “For decades, developing a mine in such an inhospitable location was considered simply impossible..” This is wrong again. The problem is not that it was technically impossible to develop the deposit.

No matter how trivial it sounds, it is all about those people who took the helm of state power and led our country into independent navigation after the collapse of the Former Soviet Union. We believed them so much!

After the establishment of independent Kyrgyzstan, we all had a strong hope that our young republic would follow the path of revival, prosperity and rapid development. Moreover, such important country’s assets as the Kumtor gold deposit, when developed and properly mined, could booster the economic development, become a support and a solid foundation for the economic and social well-being of Kyrgyzstan.

However, this, unfortunately, did not happen. We are deeply convinced that this is the fault of those first and subsequent leaders of the country who, despite the objections of sensible politicians and country patriots, not caring about the future of their country and its people, decided to conclude agreements that each time became more and more enslaving in nature, not reflecting the interests of Kyrgyzstan.

Mr. Perry, you don’t really care about all of us. You are deeply indifferent to how we continue to work and live after you fled. There is no need to “play to the gallery” and show off your care about our “heavy” fate.

If you, Mr. Perry, were pure in your actions and thoughts and carried out your activities honestly, then you would not have run away, hastily abandoning everything, and you would have continued to defend your rightness before the state bodies of Kyrgyzstan here, while in the country. You wouldn’t have left us to the mercy of fate.

Our state has firmly taken over the management control of the mine, and we believe that together we can overcome all obstacles and achieve great success for the benefit of the country and the people.

Taking into account the recent events, we, the Kumtor employees, fully support the Kumtor External Management Law adopted by the Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic executed by the Government. This Law is fair, reasonable and protects the interests of the people of Kyrgyzstan.

It is important that the environmental violations of the company you manage were determined in court. In violation of Articles 46,47 of the Law “On Water”, Article 67 of the KR Water Code, you dumped waste rock on the Davydov and Lysyi Glaciers, while you were obliged to take it down to the valley and place it on the natural surface, on the ground. Instead of taking the waste rock from the pit to the valley 300 meters down, under your leadership, this waste rock was deposited next to the pit on the glaciers, 200 meters higher. This is nonsense! As a result, you dumped more than a billion tons of waste rock on the glaciers and created black heaps of waste with the height of more than 100 meters on the snow-white glaciers, dangerously hanging over the pit and threatening to fail with the destruction of the Davydov Glacier that has water reserves of more than 500 million cubic meters preserved. And this is not a problem of climate change, as you cynically declare, Mr. Perry, but a problem that you created by cynically violating our Laws and universal principles of environmental protection and husbandry.

Of course, this was done under the patronage of the former irresponsible leaders of the country. You yourself confirm that the criminal practice of depositing waste rock on glaciers in the Kumtor area, had been prior approved by Kyrgyz governments…”.

Using these patronages, you violated our Laws, and also did not pay taxes in full. The court imposed the fine of 261 billion soms or 3 billion US dollars for depositing waste rock on glaciers. Also, there are claims filed for unpaid taxes for 1.2 billion US dollars.

Mr. Perry, when will you begin to implement the legal decision and return the illegally obtained wealth to Kyrgyzstan?

Mr. Perry, it is sad to realize that, speaking about the environment, you mislead everyone by turning the question of the criminal practice of depositing waste rock on glaciers into the problem of climate change, talking about the glacier retreat.

It is sad that you, Mr. Perry, continue to slander our Government.

After this truly historic decision made by our Parliament and its subsequent effective action to restore control over the mine, all of us, many thousands of the Kumtor Mine employees, are overwhelmed with pride for our hard work, which is now truly tangible.

In this regard, Mr. Perry, we would like to emphasize that in spite of you  and because of our work, the country is now beginning to receive resources that help make the lives of our people easier in the face of a raging coronavirus pandemic, in the form of salaries, pensions, benefits and other payments.

The news that we have produced gold to the USD 82 million in less than two months has caused great joy and enthusiasm among our citizens. We will try to do everything to increase the pace and scale of our coordinated and friendly work.

Mr. Perry, you are lying when you claim that the “safety” of employees “was always our priority…”

Your explanation regarding that “when government authorities confiscated computers and passwords of individual Kumtor employees, Centerra Gold’s global IT systems restricted all user access to preserve the integrity of the organization’s global IT infrastructure” does not stand up to any criticism.

You, Mr. Perry, as the company’s chief executive, violated existing commitments when you remotely restricted access to the “central system” even before the the introduction of temporary external management at the Kumtor Mine on May 15, 2021.

If you cared for our fortune, appreciated our lives, and valued us as workers with different levels of responsibility, seniority, and qualifications, you would never have taken such harmful steps, because we all, despite your escape from the country, continued to ensure the continuous operation of the mine and did not allow any disruptions or emergencies.

There was no justice in the fact that our mine provided the lion share of the profits of Centerra Gold Inc. for many years, while you, Mr. Perry, allocated miserly amounts for our “immediate needs” and “weekly expensesfor “payroll” out of the billions of dollars in your and the company’s accounts!

Why are you, Mr. Perry and company, during the years of operation of the Kumtor Mine, which gives you the lion’s share of profits, having received over 11,5 MILLION USD of net income, being a persistent tax avoider and causing irreparable damage to the environment of Kyrgyzstan, sending messages to us from time to time, and preventing us from working?!

Why did you, Mr. Perry, send letters to external suppliers to discontinue supplies, knowing pretty well that this could pose safety and even life threats during the operations? Why are you trying to destroy what we have created over many years of our work?

We have to admit with bitterness that after decades of criminal actions on the part of the company’s management that bought our top officials wholesale and retail, it will be very difficult for the the country’s government agencies to cope with the environmental and technical challenges created by you at the mine. However, as people say: “A journey of thousand miles begins with a single step”. The whole team and the New Manager aim at removing the obstacles you are creating in our work.

Mr. Perry,

It has already been more than 25 years since the launch of the Kumtor Project as a promising international mining project. Thousands of compatriots have found their jobs here over the years. We have become part of the mine’s workforce. Our labor relationship was based on the relevant contracts, and according to the “boss-subordinate” principle. We would like to emphasize that we are people far from politics. Each of us has tried and is trying to work at his/her workplace conscientiously and honestly. However, it should be recognized that for all these years we have not known and seen the full picture inside and around the Mine. We have not had any idea about it. Over the past almost two months since the transition of Kumtor to the New Management, a lot has become clear to us. We are deeply shocked by the fact that as a result of many years of criminal actions committed by various individuals both inside and outside the country, the Kumtor Gold Project has become a great disappointment for our people.

Mr. Perry, we have a lot more to say, but in conclusion, we, the many thousands of Kumtor employees, hope that you will have the wisdom not to mislead the Government of Canada and the whole world, not to denigrate the actions of our Government, but to start executing fair judicial decisions and really show sincerity and honesty in recognizing and correcting the mistakes made! In other words, we, the Kumtor employees, unlike you, Mr. Perry, do not think “… that we can all move forward“.

We request that you, Mr. Perry, not bother yourself in the future, trying, as people say, to “Muddy the waters”. Return what you have stolen to the people! Return our money!!!

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