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Kyrgyz Commission Says Ombudsman Illegally Fired Workers

Kyrgyz Ombudsman Tursunbek Akun

Kyrgyz Ombudsman Tursunbek Akun

BISHKEK -- A special Kyrgyz parliamentary commission says its investigation of Ombudsman Tursunbek Akun shows that he has violated the law, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Commission chairman Abdyjapar Begmatov said in parliament today that about 60 employees in the ombudsman's office have been fired illegally since Akun became ombudsman in 2008.

Begmatov added that some financial resources allocated to the ombudsman's office have been misused.

Because of these findings, Begmatov said it is necessary to hold hearings to determine if Akun and his deputy can continue to occupy their posts.

The ombudsman in Kyrgyzstan is appointed and approved by parliament.

About a dozen people picketed the parliament building today in support of Akun.

Akun, 51, said today that the commission's findings are incorrect and he is ready to "defend his name and dignity" in court.

He publicly stated when he became ombudsman that he would lay off many of the ombudsman office's workers that were employees in name only -- he said they did little or no work for their salaries.

In the first 100 days of his tenure in 2008, he reduced the ombudsman office's staff from 124 to 88 employees.

Akun was a long-time political dissident and rights activist before being appointed ombudsman. He was severely persecuted during the rule of President Askar Akaev, being jailed or detained 17 times, suffering physical attacks, and was once left for dead in a pit after being beaten.

Akun publicly defended the rights of ethnic Uzbeks after the ethnic clashes last year in the southern regions of Jalal-Abad and Osh. Many Kyrgyz nationalists criticized him for being overly supportive of Uzbeks and rights activists in the aftermath of the unrest that left more than 400 people dead and thousands injured.

Read more in Kyrgyz here