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Feliks Kulov -- Between Government And Opposition

(RFE/RL) Feliks Kulov has served many different roles -- a former Kyrgyz vice president, Bishkek mayor, and now, once again, leader of an opposition party.

Kulov was born in October 1948 in northern Kyrgyzstan, and made his career in the Interior Ministry, which he entered in 1967.

He was appointed interior minister in early 1991 and played a key role during the abortive putsch against then Soviet President Mikheil Gorbachev in August of that year, an act which earned him the respect of the population and the nickname "The people's general."

President Askar Akaev named Kulov vice president in 1992, then governor of Chu Oblast in 1993. In 1997, Kulov was appointed national security minister and the following year, mayor of Bishkek. In April 1999, Kulov sent an open letter to Akaev announcing his resignation. "I cannot work further under your leadership, because with your connivance things are taking place in Kyrgyzstan which are incompatible with democracy and the rule of law," Kulov wrote.

In July 1999, Kulov founded the opposition Ar-Namys party, which proposed him as its candidate for the October 2000 presidential election. But Kulov was refused registration for that ballot after he declined to sit an examination to prove his fluency in the Kyrgyz language.

Arrest And Acquittal

Kulov was first arrested on corruption charges in March 2000, even before his unsuccessful presidential bid, but was acquitted in August of that year. After the presidential election, he was again arrested, and sentenced in January 2001 to seven years imprisonment on charges of abuse of office while serving as national security minister.

Kulov pleaded not guilty to those charges, which some observers believe were fabricated precisely because President Akaev had come to regard Kulov as a potential rival.

In May 2002, Kulov was sentenced to a further 10 years' imprisonment, and barred from holding public office for a period of three years after the completion of his sentence. His request last year for parole was refused.

He was released on 24 March from a Bishkek jail.

From September 2005 Kulov served as prime minister under President Kurmanbek Bakiev. In December 2006, Kulov resigned and parliament has blocked his subsequent nominations.

Kulov is no longer considered an ally of Bakiev and now heads the opposition United Front for a Worthy Future for Kyrgyzstan.

RFE/RL Central Asia Report

RFE/RL Central Asia Report

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