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Kyrgyz Politician Believed Dead, Some Suspect Foul Play

Medet Sadyrkulov in an undated photo

Medet Sadyrkulov in an undated photo

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz authorities report that a former chief of the presidential office, Medet Sadyrkulov, is thought to be among three victims of a car accident on March 13, and some of his associates suspect foul play.

A spokesman for the Kyrgyz Interior Ministry, Bakyt Seyitov, told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service that two burned bodies were pulled from a destroyed car found on a highway near Bishkek. But a former vice prime minister, Elmira Ibraimova, told RFE/RL that three bodies were found, one of which was thought to be Sadyrkulov's.

Ibraimova said that she spoke to Sadyrkulov by phone on March 12, and that he said he was being watched by unknown individuals.

Meanwhile, the head of Kyrgyzstan's Great Unity Party, Emilbek Kaptagaev, said he believes Sadyrkulov was assassinated.

Kaptagaev said that in a phone conversation on March 12, Sadyrkulov said he had left his post as chief of the presidential office in December due to a disagreement with President Kurmanbek Bakiev. According to Kaptagaev, Sadyrkulov said Bakiev was running the country through a family-based system of power.

Another opposition leader, Omurbek Tekebaev of the United People's Movement of Kyrgyzstan, said: "This was a political murder intended to intimidate those who oppose the regime." He claimed to be making his statement on behalf of the entire coalition of opposition groups.

Police have said they do not believe the deaths were the result of an assassination.

Kyrgyz Deputy Minister of Health Protection Madamin Karataev told journalists that if Kyrgyz forensics experts are not able to identify the bodies found in the car, samples will be sent to Russia or another country for DNA tests.

with material from agency reports