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Kyrgyz Civil Leaders Urge President Not To Pressure NGOs

BISHKEK -- The leaders of 43 nongovernmental organizations in Kyrgyzstan have urged President Almazbek Atambaev not to put pressure on NGOs.

A letter addressed to Atambaev on December 8 urges him "not to repeat the mistakes of his predecessors."

The NGO leaders were referring to a television interview on December 1 in which Atambaev said some NGO activities may "pose a threat" to national security.

The letter says "two previous presidents who said that NGOs threaten Kyrgyzstan's national security were threatening national security themselves, and as a result were kicked out of the country."

Kyrgyz revolutions in 2005 and 2010 ousted Presidents Askar Akaev and Kurmanbek Bakiev, respectively.

Parliament is considering a controversial bill that would impose "foreign-agent" status on NGOs receiving foreign funds.

Critics say the bill mimics a 2012 law in Russia that was heavily criticized by rights groups and Western governments.