Kyrgyz Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov has announced in parliament that he is ready to resign if his alleged involvement in the purchase of almost 9,000 tons of radioactive coal from neighboring Kazakhstan is proven.
The statement comes a day after deputy Myktybek Abdyldaev of the opposition Ata-Jurt (Fatherland) party told parliament that Babanov and President Almazbek Atambaev should be questioned by investigators.
Abdyldaev also called for all those involved in the scandal to be put on trial.
“The society has a big question now. The Prosecutor-General's Office has to investigate the case thoroughly and make all those guilty in that incident accountable," he said. "Otherwise, the prosecutor-general should be held responsible.”
The Prosecutor-General’s Office announced on February 8 that seven officials have been arrested over the decision to permit the coal to be imported and distributed to schools and old people's homes in Kyrgyzstan's Chui region.
The investigation was launched in November after local human rights activists revealed that almost 9 tons of coal brought to Kyrgyzstan’s north from Kazakhstan's Qulan mine in September were radioactive.
The head of the Kyrgyz government’s information department, Sultan Kanazarov, told RFE/RL that the situation was being discussed between the Kazakh and Kyrgyz companies involved in the coal’s purchase.
“At this point, according to confirmed information that I have, the company that imported the radioactive coal [to Kyrgyzstan] has agreed to take the coal out of Kyrgyzstan and return it back [to Kazakhstan] with full coverage of all expenses,” Kanazarov said.
Meanwhile, the head of the Kyrgyz Power Stations Joint Stock Company, Aman Tentiev, who is currently visiting Kazakhstan's capital, Astana, told RFE/RL that Kyrgyz and Kazakh officials agreed that the tainted coal would be returned to Kazakhstan and are discussing ways to implement the plan.
Officials at the Qulan mining complex in Kazakhstan’s southern Zhambyl region declined comment.