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Kyrgyzstan: Prime Minister Narrowly Survives Confidence Vote

Kyrgyzstan's prime minister narrowly avoided being dismissed yesterday in a confidence vote in the upper house of parliament. Some deputies accused Prime Minister Nikolai Tanayev of financial abuses, but others said the move was precipitated for purposes of pre-election positioning, with both parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for next year.

Prague, 9 April 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyzstan's prime minister narrowly survived a confidence vote in the country's upper house of parliament yesterday.

The People's Assembly voted 27-14 to dismiss Prime Minister Nikolai Tanayev -- falling just short of the 30 votes needed to force him from office. Four deputies did not cast votes.

Tanayev has been accused of financial misdealing. Deputies questioned how the prime minister managed to obtain a loan of some $104,000 from the National Electric Power Grid -- a company that was already deeply in debt. He was also accused of trying to give public land to a private company for personal gain.

Some of the prime minister's financial dealings have been questioned.
Janysh Rustanbekov, a member of the upper house of parliament, told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service that Tanayev's government must go because its members had lost the trust of the majority of deputies. He noted that in a different vote, the majority of deputies in the upper house called for President Akayev to dismiss Tanayev.

"[The government] has no moral right to continue working,” Rustanbekov said. He further noted that in a decree separate from the confidence measure, 32 deputies said they don't trust the government.

Tanayev's representative in the Legislative Assembly, the lower house of parliament, Myrza Kaparov, said it would not have been legal if the upper house had voted no confidence in Tanayev yesterday.

"Yesterday it was not an annual report [by the prime minister]," Kaparov said. "It was just information given by him on building a complex, a land issue. Even if [the upper house] decided to [remove him from his position], it would have been an illegal action."

Iskhak Masaliyev, who is leading a campaign against Tanayev in the upper house, spoke about accusations that the prime minister tried to give property to a private company for personal gain. He complained that instead of giving 13.5 hectares of land to Kyrgyz citizens who were waiting on a government list to receive it for building houses, a secret deal with Tanayev and his government was made, giving the property to a private company.

"When the director of a construction company spoke to us, he said it was envisioned to sell that piece of land and for the proceeds to build a building," Masaliyev said. "Here, the rights of Kyrgyzstan’s citizens were abused."

Masaliyev is demanding that Tanayev make a full accounting of the deal to parliament.

The head of Kyrgyzstan's Civil Society Against Corruption, Toleikan Ismailova, said that although Tanayev may have been caught up in an anticorruption drive, the controversy surrounding Tanayev is more a political show. She said President Askar Akayev has already indicated that he sees nothing wrong with Tanayev's financial actions.

"As you know, Akayev himself protected Tanayev when we (NGOs and politicians) demanded that he talk about Tanayev's affairs in front of the people," Ismailova said. "Akayev said during his TV address: 'I, myself, gave permission to Prime Minister Tanayev because his family was poor. That is why I permitted him to take a loan, which was not illegal.'"

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