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Kyrgyzstan: Government Accused Of Framing Opposition Leader

  • Bruce Pannier --> Tekebaev addressing supporters on September 12 (Courtesy Photo) PRAGUE, September 12, 2006 -- Opposition leader and lawmaker Omurbek Tekebaev returned to Kyrgyzstan early this morning from Poland where he was detained when customs officials in Warsaw found heroin in his luggage.

Meanwhile, parliament is holding a session to look into charges that President Kurmanbek Bakiev's brother, Janysh, ordered the narcotics to be placed in Tekebaev's baggage when he left Bishkek.There were calls today in parliament for President Bakiev to immediately come and address the body.

Deputies were discussing opposition leader Tekebaev's detention in Poland and reports that the National Security Service (SNB) had heroin planted in Tekebaev's baggage.

Security Service Takes Blame

The scandal has led SNB chief Busurmankul Tabaldiev to offer his resignation and cost the president's brother, Janysh Bakiev, his job.

"It's clear that [the drug incident] was carried out by the [Kyrgyz] authorities. Nobody except these authorities could organize such a provocation." -- Tekebaev

"As of today, [Janysh Bakiev] has been dismissed," Tabaldiev announced in parliament. "As the head [of the SNB] I am not evading my responsibility and, although I am not directly involved in this provocation, I asked the president to relieve me of my duties."

In a letter that was read in parliament, a top official at Bishkek's Manas Airport suggested that Janysh Bakiev was involved in a scheme to plant drugs in Tekebaev's luggage prior to his flight to Poland, where he was to attend an economic forum.

SNB chief Tabaldiev told parliament today that the president has already given instructions that a thorough investigation be conducted and if a crime was committed by his brother, he should be punished.

A rally by Tekebaev supporters on September 12 (RFE/RL)

"The president of the republic declared: 'there is a criminal case, and if my brother is guilty let there be an investigation and let him take responsibility before the law,'" Tabaldiev said.

Authorities' Hand Seen In Plot

Tekebaev was detained in Warsaw on September 6 after customs officials found nearly 600 grams of heroin in his luggage. Tekebaev professed his innocence from the start and, on September 8, a Polish court ordered he be released. The court said it accepted Tekebaev's claim that the drugs had been planted in his baggage.

Tekebaev, the leader of the opposition For Reforms movement, returned to Kyrgyzstan and spoke to reporters after his arrival in Bishkek early this morning.

"It's clear that [the drug incident] was carried out by the [Kyrgyz] authorities," he said. "Nobody except these authorities could organize such a provocation. Our authorities used all of their power and facilities for it."

Calls For Government To Resign

Several deputies demanded President Bakiev resign with some going so far as to demand the whole government step down. Prime Minister Feliks Kulov said at today's parliament session that he did not know about the plot against Tekebaev. He had earlier voiced support for Tekebaev when the latter was in custody in Poland.

Several hundred of Tekebaev's supporters gathered outside the parliament building today. They demanded Kyrgyz authorities find and punish those responsible for the scandal.

Tekebaev's fellow movement member and political ally Melis Eshimkanov said there will be a gathering ("kurultai") in the southern town of Aksy on September 17. Aksy is a known hotbed of antigovernment sentiment.

Eshimkanov said participants would demand President Bakiev's resignation, though not just for the Tekebaev affair and Janysh Bakiev's suspected role in it. Eshimkanov said the kurultai will assess the government's progress in fulfilling promises to the people since coming to power in 2005.

(RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service contributed to this report.)

The Tulip Revolution

ONE YEAR AGO: Click on the image to view RFE/RL's archive of coverage of Kyrgyzstan's Tulip Revolution from the beginning, including biographical sketches of the key players and photo galleries of the demonstrations.

See RFE/RL's special review of the March 2005 Kyrgyz events:

Questions Remain About March 24 'Revolution' (Part I)

Did Revolution Sow The Seeds Of Democracy? (Part II)

Was 'Revolution' A Worthy Successor To Rose And Orange? (Part III)

See also:

Reporter's Notebook -- Witness To The Uprising

THE COMPLETE KYRGYZSTAN: To view an archive of all of RFE/RL's coverage of Kyrgyzstan, click here.