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Kyrgyz Opposition Seeks Release Of Leader


http://gdb.rferl.org/088C068A-FAC0-43EF-B82A-DCD0192123D3_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/088C068A-FAC0-43EF-B82A-DCD0192123D3_mw800_mh600.jpg 20 July 2004 (RFE/RL) -- The deputy chairman of Kyrgyzstan's opposition Ar-Namys (Dignity) party said today that the party's leader should legally have been released from jail days ago and vowed there will be protest actions if authorities do not release the leader within two days.

Party Deputy Chairman Emil Aliyev told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz service that Ar-Namys leader Feliks Kulov, jailed since 2001 on embezzlement charges that his supporters say are politically motivated, wrote a letter to the country's prosecutor-general in early June saying he would be eligible for an early release from prison on 12 July.

In the letter, Kulov asked that his appeal for an early release be forwarded to the Sokuluk district court.

In a statement released this week, Kulov said he was told that the Prosecutor-General's Office had lost the letter.

Aliyev said if the authorities do not respond to Kulov's request by 22 July, Ar-Namys will launch nationwide acts of protest.

"We will conduct [protests]. If the authorities do not give us an answer before the 22nd [of July], we will start [protest] acts," Aliyev said. "They will be in various forms -- meetings, protests, pickets -- in front of the [Kyrgyz] White House, the Justice Ministry, and the department of prison management. The actions will take place in all areas of the republic."

Kulov has announced he will launch a hunger strike on 22 July if authorities do not contact him or Ar-Namys concerning the matter.

Kulov remains one of Kyrgyzstan's best-known political figures and was considered a strong challenger to incumbent President Askar Akaev before his conviction removed him from the country's political scene.

(also with AKIpress report)
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