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Friday, September 23, 2005

 

Kyrgyz parliament deputy murdered

From Radio Free Europe:

Kyrgyz lawmaker and businessman Bayaman Erkinbaev was shot dead last night [Wednesday] in Bishkek. Erkinbaev, who was for a brief time among the country's presidential contenders earlier this year, had alleged connections to criminal groups in the southern Osh area. He is the second parliament deputy to be killed since June. His murder comes after a warning by Kyrgyzstan's ombudsman that contract murders were on the rise in the country. The Kyrgyz parliament today held an emergency session on the murder, with both President Kurmanbek Bakiev and Prime Minister Feliks Kulov in attendance.

Controversy seemed to follow the lawmaker since a previous murder attempt against him last April. At the time, Erkinbaev said the attack was linked to his presidential bid.

"With full responsibility I declare that this [assassination attempt] is a political order which I believe is linked to my decision to run for president," Erkinbaev said.

But there may have been other reasons -- Erkinbaev's alleged criminal ties among them.

In June, violence broke out in his native Osh region when guards shot guns into the air to disperse a crowd of angry protesters gathered outside an Osh hotel believed to be owned by Erkinbaev. The protesters were primarily merchants from the Kara-suu bazaar, one of the biggest such markets in Central Asia.

Erkinbaev allegedly held large financial interests in the Kara-suu bazaar. Several recent articles in the Kyrgyz press and on the Internet accused Erkinbaev of being involved in a number of illegal business ventures, including some linked to the market.

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