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Kyrgyz Deputy Criticizes Government Over Price Hikes

Prime Minister Almaz Atambaev rejected the call for his resignation (file photo) (RFE/RL) September 3, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- A member of Kyrgyzstan's parliament, the Jogorku Kenesh, today called on the government to resign over a recent increase in the price of basic foodstuffs.

Speaking at the first parliamentary session after the summer break, Kamchybek Tashiev said the government failed to take preventive measures against price hikes in food staples, particularly flour and bread. Such a failure is reason enough for the resignation, Tashiev said.

Addressing the government, Tashiev said, "Instead of sitting with your arms folded and wondering what to do, instead of finding a solution, you must admit that you cannot work, and resign."

Tashiev rejected the government's explanation that a similar trend of inflation can be observed in other countries. He said the authorities in those countries are adopting various programs in order to protect their citizens from the impact of a price increase.

But "no action is seen on the part of our government," the deputy said.

Another deputy, Temir Saryev, proposed that financial aid for those in need be allocated from the state budget.

Asamiddin Maripov, also a lawmaker, said wages must be raised to help people deal with the price increase.

No Plans To Step Down

Prime Minister Almaz Atambaev responded to appeals for his government's resignation by telling the Jogorku Kenesh that he intended to stay, and that his resignation would weaken stability in the country.

Atambaev added that a rise in grain prices in neighboring Kazakhstan was the reason for the recent price increase in Kyrgyzstan.

He also rejected speculation about a plan to dissolve the Jogorku Kenesh.

"Lately, there has been talk from some people that the parliament would be dissolved," Atambaev said. "I want to remind you of a Kyrgyz proverb: 'the dog barks but the caravan moves on.' [In other words,] we should continue working in spite of everything."

Speaking to journalists in Bishkek after the parliamentary session, Atambaev also noted that a rise in prices for foodstuffs and energy "is not an isolated development but, judging by the forecasts of international experts, a long-term and lengthy process."

"There are natural processes which one has to resign oneself to and reckon with," Atambaev said. The problem, he continued, "is that it is hurting our citizens badly, whereas in other countries not much significance is attached to this. I believe we should work in such a fashion that our people can receive decent wages and pensions."

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

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