Kyrgyzstan: Glass-Hurling World Bank Boss Sparks Scandal
Kyrgyzstan’s international donor community is buzzing with scandal: The director of the World Bank’s Kyrgyzstan office, Alexander Kramer, apparently hurled a drinking glass at Kyrgyzstan’s new deputy prime minister, Djoomart Otorbayev, on February 3. The incident occurred during a donor meeting at government headquarters, known as the White House, in Bishkek. According to one eyewitness, Kramer had just spoken for a few minutes, praising recent government initiatives and encouraging Bishkek to ensure officials are chosen for their merits. He defended the World Bank’s sometimes slow motions in the country, noting that development is “a marathon rather than a sprint,” according to EurasiaNet's source. During the next set of remarks, by the International Monetary Fund’s country director, Kramer suddenly stood up, yelled, “This is all crap!” and threw the glass, which shattered on the floor in front of Otorbayev.He then stormed out of the room, a video of which made the evening news. Kramer’s LinkedIn profile lists him as having led the World Bank’s office in Kyrgyzstan since August 2010, two months after the deadly interethnic violence that spurred international donors to pledge $1.1 billion in aid. According to recent breakdowns of the country’s foreign debt, Bishkek owes the Bank some $663 million. In a statement quoted by 24.kg, Kramer’s colleague apologized on behalf of the Bank and said the outburst was not directed at anyone, but caused by a “sudden onset of circulatory disorders of the brain.” The news agency also reported that Kramer is under medical supervision. While the reasons for Kramer’s outburst remain unclear, it is not difficult to imagine an international donor having a fit of outrage in Kyrgyzstan, a country notorious for inefficiency, poor policymaking and corruption.
David Trilling is Eurasianet’s managing editor.