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“Maybe the minister wanted to say that a lot of people in Kyrgyzstan, especially in remote areas, have to live on no more than $100,” Mr. Akeneyev says. “Maybe he wanted to comfort those who cannot spend more than $100. It is not a secret that many people in the country are living below the poverty line.”

Kyrgyzstan’s economy relies heavily on gold exports, but remittances sent home by migrant workers, mostly employed in Russia, make up more than 20 percent of GDP.

“That Kyrgyzstan is struggling to meet the basic economic needs of its population is clear — because people are voting with their feet — with mass migration of young men to Russia as labor migrants,” says Ben Judah, a Moscow-based analyst with think tank the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Analysts say that corruption, poor living standards and high unemployment were major causes behind the popular uprisings that overthrew Mr. Bakiyev in 2010, and his predecessor Askar Akayev, who was ousted in 2005.

“Statements [such as Mr. Japarov‘s] are quite dangerous in a country like Kyrgyzstan that has seen two revolutions in the last decade and has developed a culture of protests and forced change of government,” said Ms. Gevorgyan.

Ruby Russell contributed to this report from Berlin.