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Kyrgyz Government Closes Uzbek Businessman's University

The People's Friendship University
BISHKEK -- The private Friendship of the Peoples University in the southern Kyrgyz city of Jalal-Abad has been closed, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

A Kyrgyz Education and Science Ministry spokeswoman told RFE/RL that the ministry decided earlier this week to revoke the license granted to the university's owner, businessman Kadyrjan Batyrov.

Batyrov is one of the leaders of the local Uzbek community. He is wanted by the Kyrgyz authorities for his alleged involvement in organizing deadly clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in the Osh and Jalal-Abad regions in June. His current whereabouts are unknown.

At least 371 people died and hundreds were injured during the clashes. The university building was badly damaged during the unrest -- many classrooms were badly burned.

About 1,500 students, who are mostly ethnic Uzbeks, will be affected by the university's closure. Several of them told RFE/RL they were against the decision to shut it down.

The ministry spokesman said 150 students from the university would be transferred to the Kyrgyz-Russian (Slavic) University and the Medical University in Bishkek.

Meanwhile, the Education and Science Ministry spokeswoman told RFE/RL the university's closure had nothing to do with Batyrov's case.

She said that a decision had been made to close 14 higher-education institutions in the country due to "irregularities in the license obtaining process" and the Friendship of the Peoples University was among them.