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Kyrgyz Communist Party Leader Resigns Due To Criminal Charge

Iskhak Masaliev (file photo)
Iskhak Masaliev (file photo)
BISHKEK -- The chairman of the Kyrgyz Communist Party says he is resigning because of a pending criminal case against him, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Iskhak Masaliev told journalists in Bishkek that the charge of "organizing mass disorder" was preventing him from leaving Bishkek and campaigning for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The charge was made against Masaliev in May after a recording of an alleged phone conversation he had with Usen Sydykov -- the head of former President Kurmanbek Bakiev's administration -- was made public.

During the conversation, it appears Masaliev and Sydykov were discussing how to organize unrest in southern Kyrgyzstan. Two people died in ethnic clashes in the Jalal-Abad region on May 12-13.

Masaliev spent about two weeks in jail before being released and put under house arrest. He said the charge against him was "absolutely groundless."

Masaliev told RFE/RL that Bumairam Mamaseitova will take over as leader of the Communists.

Masaliev, 50, is the son of Absamat Masaliev, the Kyrgyz Communist Party's first secretary and leader of the Soviet republic until the USSR collapsed in 1991.

Absamat Masaliev continued to lead the party until his death in July 2004, when his son took over.

Kyrgyzstan has a second Communist Party that is headed by Klara Ajybekova.

The parliamentary elections are scheduled for October 10.