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Prime Minister Kulov (left) shares a relaxed moment with President Bakiev in November (AFP) BISHKEK, 25 January 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyz Prime Minister Feliks Kulov has accused domestic law-enforcement agencies and the courts of acting irresponsibly and of failing to curb organized crime, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Politicians in Kyrgyzstan have expressed concern that crime and lawlessness might be hindering the country's path to development less than a year after a popular revolt ousted the entrenched administration of Askar Akaev.

In a statement issued today, Kulov singles out National Security Service Chairman Tashtemir Aitbaev as hindering efforts to fight crime and corruption. He also calls for "swift reform of the judicial authorities and the entire police system."

Kulov's public offensive comes one day after a Bishkek court acquitted Ryspek Akmatbaev of murder charges. Referring to Akhmatbaev as a "crime boss," Kulov says in his statement that acquitting him of criminal charges harms Kyrgyzstan's international image. He adds that he has been personally threatened by Akhmatbaev and notes that international organizations have accused Akhmatbaev of soliciting bribes when they want to do business in Kyrgyzstan.

Recent unrest in Jalal-Abad, in the restive south, and Talas, in the north, has been interpreted by some as indicative of a creeping crisis of confidence.

In an interview with RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, newspaper publisher and legislator Melis Eshimkanov said Kulov's statement was not unexpected, given the current perceptions of lawlessness and instability.

"It wasn't unexpected for me at all, because our society wants to know Feliks Kulov's opinion on the latest events," Eshimkanov said. "There are dismissed governors in the Talas and Jalal-Abad regions continuing their work, yesterday a Security Service officer arrested with weapons and drugs in his possession was freed, and other events show that the post-revolution situation in Kyrgyzstan is still very unstable."

Kulov is a former political prisoner who came to power following a popular revolt in March 2005, but his relations with postrevolutionary President Kurmanbek Bakiev appear to have become increasingly strained.

Bakiev was attending a Eurasian Economic Community (EES) summit in St. Petersburg today, and did not immediately comment on Kulov's statement.
RFE/RL Central Asia Report


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