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Atambaev Lashes Out At Kyrgyz Parliament Amid Political Tension

Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev
Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev lashed out at lawmakers who have alleged he was connected to the cargo of a plane that crashed in January, and voiced support for a legislator who said parliament should be dissolved.

Atambaev said in Bishkek on March 6 that lawmakers were "spreading rumors" and reiterated his dismissal of claims that the ill-fated plane's cargo was linked to him and his wife.

The MyCargo 747-400 crash killed four crew members and 35 people on the ground. The crash set off speculation about the ownership and destination of its cargo.

Atambaev's remarks came amid political tension over the arrest of Omurbek Tekebaev, leader of the opposition Ata-Meken (Fatherland) party, on suspicion of corruption.

On March 1, a lawyer for Ata-Meken claimed that Tekebaev was arrested to prevent him from publicizing documents she said showed that goods aboard the cargo plane belonged to Atambaev and his wife.

Tekebaev, a deputy chairman of the parliamentary commission that investigated the questioned plane crash, was detained on February 26 and later sent to pretrial detention on fraud charges that he calls politically motivated.

On March 5, Ata-Meken named him as its candidate in the Central Asian nation's November 19 presidential election.

Tekebaev on March 6 expressed "support for the idea of dissolving parliament," referring to a remark from a lawmaker who said on March 1 that the parliament should be dissolved if it is unable to resolve the tension over Tekebaev's arrest.