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Rysbek Akmatbaev pictured at a rally in his support in March (RFE/RL)
BISHKEK, May 10, 2006 (RFE/RL) – A reputed Kyrgyz criminal leader who has been at the center of controversy after topping the ballot in a recent parliamentary by-election has been shot dead.
Rysbek Akmatbaev's attorney, Rysbek Nagaev, told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz service that Akmatbaev was gunned down in mid-afternoon as he was leaving a mosque near the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek.
Although election returns show Akmatbaev won 79 percent of February's ballot in his home town of Balykchy, the Central Election Commission has refused to declare him the winner due to an ongoing murder investigation and criminal trial against him.
Kyrgyz authorities offered no immediate comment about the killing to RFE/RL.
Relatives and supporters of Akmatbaev told RFE/RL that his body has been taken to Balykchy and that he will be buried there on May 11.
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