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Kyrgyzstan: Jailed Opposition Leader Declares Hunger Strike

Bishkek, 9 February 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyzstan's leading opposition figure, Feliks Kulov, began a hunger strike today in prison after being refused access to his defense lawyers. Kulov, who heads the Ar-Namys opposition party, was given a controversial seven-year prison sentence last month for abuse of office while serving as national security minister in 1997 and 1998. Earlier this week, the National Security Service filed new criminal charges against Kulov, accusing him of stealing state property and abusing his position while serving as a governor of the country's northern Chu province in 1995.

Kulov ran in last year's parliamentary elections, losing in a run-off which OSCE observers called suspicious.