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Kyrgyzstan: President In Parliament To Discuss 'Heroin Doll' Affair

Omurbek Tekebaev addressing his supporters in Bishkek on September 12 (Courtesy Photo) Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev was in parliament today to answer some of the many questions deputies have about the affair of Omurbek Tekebaev. The parliament deputy and opposition leader was detained last week in Poland on charges of possessing nearly 600 grams of heroin. He was released two days later when a court determined the drugs were not Tekebaev's. Subsequent allegations arose that Kyrgyzstan's security service planted the narcotics inside a matryoshka (nesting doll) in Tekebaev's baggage.

PRAGUE, September 14, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- President Bakiev came to parliament today with Prime Minister Feliks Kulov and most of the rest of the government. Lawmakers had invited Bakiev to come to explain what the Kyrgyz president knows about the Tekebaev affair and about allegations that Bakiev's brother Janysh was involved.

Janysh Bakiev was the first deputy chairman of the National Security Service (SNB) until this week, when he and SNB head Busurmankul Tabaldiev resigned in connection with the scandal.

"It would be different if it only happened once but our security service has been doing these sorts of things for years."

Calls For President's Resignation

On September 12 there were calls in parliament for Bakiev and the government to also resign.

Bakiev said today there are no grounds for such a demand. "There is no condition, no reason for the resignation of the president today," Bakiev said. "That's my opinion. You can appeal to the people if you want."

In addressing parliament, Bakiev called on lawmakers to await the findings of commissions that are tasked with investigating the Tekebaev incident.

"We should wait for the results of your commission, the results of the commission I formed," he said. "Let them investigate and elaborate [on the situation]. The investigation will reach its own conclusions. Until then I will make my own conclusions. Now, before the people, before the parliament, I must say that my own interests, the interests of my family, I will not place higher than the interests of the state; moreover than [the importance of] being president. For me the interests of the state are higher than anything. If, during the course of the investigation the guilt of anyone becomes clear -- my relatives or anyone else -- that person will be punished."

Bakiev told the deputies to work within the boundaries of the country's constitution as they consider the matter. Lawmakers were due to vote today on a 12-point proposal that includes a demand for Bakiev and Prime Minister Feliks Kulov to resign.

Charges Of Nepotism

Deputies put off that vote to listen to Bakiev -- and the deputies then agreed to drop the demand that Bakiev and Kulov step down. But parliament's vote on the proposal is still set for September 15. Among the demands still in it is an insistence that two of Bakiev's other brothers -- serving in diplomatic posts in Germany and China -- be dismissed.

Fueling allegations that the Kyrgyz government may have been involved in framing Tekebaev is the well-known fact that Bakiev and Tekebaev are not friends. Tekebaev was the speaker of parliament at the start of this year, but his comments to Kyrgyzstan's media that Bakiev was a "dog" and should "hang himself from the first tree" stirred up a controversy that led to Tekebaev's resignation.

Bakiev acknowledged to lawmakers today that his relationship with Tekebaev "is not warm."

Tekebaev, in comments to RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service after Bakiev's address to parliament, seemed unimpressed by the speech.

Tekebaev Not Swayed

"I didn't want the president to come [to parliament]," he said. "I didn't call for him to come. Of course, it wasn't just me but others also who were not satisfied [by Bakiev's comments]."

Kubatbek Baibolov is a deputy, an opposition activist, and a former KGB officer from the time when Kyrgyzstan was a Soviet republic. After Bakiev's speech to parliament he told RFE/RL that he firmly believes the country's security service was involved in framing Tekebaev.

"Everything has been proven," he claimed. "[The authorities] have nothing left to do but try to justify their actions. It would be different if it only happened once but our security service has been doing these sorts of things for years. They've done it to me. I have no doubts that the authorities organized this [and framed Tekebaev]."

Bakiev's decision to address parliament may have doused the political fire that was starting to burn around him. But lawmakers are still due to conduct a secret vote on September 15 on the demands in the now 11-point proposal, so the Tekebaev affair is far from over.

(Venera Djumataeva of RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service contributed to this report.)

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