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Kyrgyzstan: Akaev Says Police, Local Officials Caused Deaths

Bishkek, 21 May 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyzstan's President Askar Akaev has acknowledged that authorities were responsible for the deaths of demonstrators in clashes with police in March. AP reports that Akaev, in a broadcast to the nation yesterday, urged the country to work for reconciliation. Akaev issued the call after a senior government official presented the findings of a commission, which said the actions of local officials and police had caused the deaths of five protesters.

Kyrgyz First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Tanaev said the policemen responsible for opening fire on the demonstrators should face charges in court. Tanaev said the commission investigating the cause of the violence in the southern Aksy Raion determined that the arrest of Legislative Assembly deputy Azimbek Beknazarov in January was responsible for the tragedy. Tanaev called the arrest "groundless."

The Aksy protest started in response to Beknazarov's trial on corruption charges.