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Kyrgyzstan's Embattled Atambaev Leaves For Moscow From Russian Air Base Aboard Private Jet

Former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev (seated left) and his associates head to Moscow aboard a private jet on July 24.

BISHKEK -- Former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev, who faces five counts of criminally abusing his office when he held power from 2011 to 2017, has left Kyrgyzstan aboard a private jet headed to Moscow.

Kunduz Joldubaeva, spokeswoman for the Social Democratic Party of which Atambaev is a leading member, wrote in a Facebook post on July 24 that Atambaev took off from a Russian air base near Bishkek accompanied by several associates, including herself, adding that "meetings on a high level are expected in Moscow."

"The inviting side [in Russia] has sent a special plane from the RusJet air company. The aircraft's type is RRJ-95B," Joldubaeva wrote.

It is not clear who invited Atambaev, who three times refused to obey Interior Ministry subpoenas in an unspecified criminal investigation earlier this month.

On July 22, Kyrgyz Deputy Interior Minister Mirlan Kanimetov visited Atambaev's residential compound seeking explanations for the former president’s refusal to obey the subpoenas.

Quoting Atambaev, Joldubaeva said that he considers illegal both the subpoenas and a June 27 parliamentary vote that stripped him of his immunity from prosecution.

Atambaev said later that he plans to visit Russia for two days on an invitation by unspecified people there.

Atambaev faces counts of criminal misconduct while in office -- including corruption, abuse of office, and illegally enriching himself.

He has rejected all of the charges, saying they are politically motivated.

Under Kyrgyz law, a person who refuses to comply with two subpoenas can be forcibly detained for questioning. But authorities in Bishkek so far have not attempted to carry out such a move against the former president.

Atambaev's lawyer, Sergei Slesarev, has said that amendments made in May to Kyrgyzstan's law on the immunity of former presidents are unconstitutional.

Kyrgyz lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to remove Atambaev's immunity in a move that cleared the way for his prosecution.

Atambaev has spent most of his time since the June 27 parliamentary vote at his residential compound in Koi-Tash. He has publicly stated that he has weapons on the premises.

With reporting by Kaktus