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Kyrgyz General Downplays Parliamentary Incident

August 3, 2006 -- Kyrgyzstan's first deputy defense minister today downplayed an August 1 incident that triggered alarm when armed troops deployed around the parliament building, saying it was part of a military exercise.

But General Zamirbek Moldoshev also said the exercise as originally planned should have taken place with unarmed troops and inside the seat of the Kyrgyz legislature, known as the Supreme Council (Zhogorku Kenesh).

Moldoshev said he eventually called for the exercise to take place outside parliament and ordered his troops to carry weapons. He said he changed his plans after the deputy speaker of parliament, Kubanychbek Isabekov, ordered the Defense Ministry's main communications directorate to vacate the offices it had been using in the building.

Isabekov defended his eviction order by saying the Defense Ministry owes parliament 500,000 soms (roughly $12,500) in unpaid electricity bills.

Isabekov today demanded that the Defense Ministry's leadership be prosecuted over the incident.

Kyrgyzstan's longtime president, Askar Akaev, was forced from power in March 2005 in the face of opposition-led protests that culminated in the storming of the government building.


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