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Kyrgyzstan: Legislators Demand Release Of Colleague

Bishkek, 7 January 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Twenty deputies in Kyrgyzstan's lower chamber of parliament have appealed to President Askar Akaev for the immediate release of legislator Azimbek Beknazarov. The legislators -- including the chamber's speaker, Abdygany Erkebaev -- issued an appeal yesterday that alleges Beknazarov's detention is politically motivated. They also demanded an urgent session of the assembly to discuss the case.

Beknazarov has been on a hunger strike since his arrest on 5 January in Kyrgyzstan's southern Jalal-Abad province. He says he was detained because of criticisms he has raised against President Akaev's border deals with China and Kazakhstan.

Beknazarov chairs the parliamentary Committee on Court Reforms and Legality. But a 1998 amendment to Kyrgyzstan's constitution says legislators only have parliamentary immunity when the assembly is in session.

Seventeen deputies sent a letter to President Akaev in December alleging that his administration is persecuting Beknazarov.