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Arrest Of Kyrgyz Opposition Leader Due To 'Destabilizing' Forces

Omurbek Tekebaev (file photo) (RFE/RL) BISHKEK, September 11, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev today blamed last week's incident that saw Polish authorities arrest opposition leader and former parliament speaker Omurbek Tekebaev on drugs charges on "people seeking to destabilize the country."

"I believe this was the work of those people whose interest it is that there should be no stability [in Kyrgyzstan], whose interest it is that disputes and infighting should erupt among the different branches of power and political groupings," he said. "Otherwise, how could one possibly explain what happened?"

Tekebaev was arrested on September 6 at Warsaw airport after Polish border police found heroin in his luggage. Two days later, a Polish court cleared him of all charges and ordered his release.

The Warsaw district court that ruled that Tekebaev should be freed said in a statement that Polish police had received a fax from Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, saying the Kyrgyz lawmaker was carrying drugs in his luggage. Tekebaev was on his way to an economic forum in the Polish town of Krynica when he was arrested.

Opposition supporters in Bishkek say they suspect the Kyrgyz National Security Service (SNB) of setting Tekebaev up, for reasons that remain unclear.

The head of the SNB, Busurmankul Talaldiev, on September 1 denied any wrongdoing, saying the incident was aimed at discrediting his administration.

Lawmakers today summoned Interior Minister Murat Sutalinov and Interpol representative Konstantin Nazarov to give their own views on the Tekebaev incident.

Tekebaev is expected back in Bishkek later on September 11 or on September 12.

RFE/RL Central Asia Report

RFE/RL Central Asia Report

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