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Kyrgyzstan: Constitutional Court Probes Parliament Chairman

Bishkek, 5 November 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyzstan's Constitutional Court is hearing the case of Mukar Cholponbaev, chairman of the Legislative Assembly of the Kyrgyz parliament. The hearings opened yesterday.

Five parliamentary deputies last week asked the court to determine if Cholponbaev's election as chairman in 1995 was valid. The deputies contend that the necessary quorum was not present to vote on Cholponbaev.

Allegations of corruption was made against Cholponbaev in September, and a special parliamentarian commission was formed to investigate.

The chairman of the investigating commission tells RFE/RL that a large sum of money equivalent to about $250,000 was transferred from the Parliament's budget to the account of a private firm in September 1995. Cholponbaev's wife was owner of the firm that time. The firm's two top officials were arrested.

Gas Fees Reduced

Kyrgyzstan's Economics Ministry has announced that fees set by the government on natural gas supplies are too high, and -- retroactive to November 1 -- will be reduced by 10 percent.

The price of gas for some categories of customers will also be reduced by about 10 percent. The prices and fees have been the focus of several rallies held in Bishkek since they were introduced in August.

Our correspondent reports protest organizers have met top government officials, and received further assurances that gas prices for pensioners will be lowered even more, and that negotiations on raising pensions have begun.

Bakayev Medical Condition Unchanged

Medical officials tell RFE/RL that Kyrgyzstan's Security Minister Anarbek Bakayev remains unconscious. Bakayev received severe head injuries in a car crash last month.