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Kyrgyz Official Seeks To Avert Self-Immolation Protest

Bektur Asanov, governor of the Jalal-Abad Oblast
Bektur Asanov, governor of the Jalal-Abad Oblast
TOKTOGUL, Kyrgyzstan -- The governor of Kyrgyzstan's Jalal-Abad Oblast, Bektur Asanov, says he has begun talks with a local man and his relatives to dissuade him from killing himself in protest at a local politician, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Salabat Anikeev, 56, who lives in Jalal-Abad's Toktogul district, sent an open letter to President Roza Otunbaeva on August 3 threatening to burn himself to death on August 9 unless Toktogul regional Governor Satylgan Arstanbekov is fired by the end of this week.

Anikeev told RFE/RL August 4 that he seriously intends to commit self-immolation and will do so if Arstanbekov is not dismissed.

He added that Arstanbekov used to be the deputy governor of the Toktogul district, and his current deputy was the coordinator of the pro-presidential Ak-Jol Party when Kurmanbek Bakiev was president.

Anikeev said the current government has forgotten its promises to dismiss all members of Bakiev's clan who hold official posts.

Asanov told RFE/RL that some political forces who want to have one of their people appointed governor of Toktogul may be behind Anikeev's demand.

Anikeev is a graduate of Kyrgyzstan's College of Economics and Law. For the past 15 years he has supported Azimbek Beknazarov, one of Bakiev's strongest critics.

During last year's presidential election, Anikeev headed a support group in Toktogul for Bakiev's most serious challenger, Almazbek Atambaev.

Both Beknazarov and Atambaev became members of Kyrgyzstan's interim government after Bakiev's ouster on April 7. Atambaev later quit the government to take part in the parliamentary elections scheduled for October.