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Kyrgyz Officer Who Raised Issue Of Graft In Border Guard System Dies Suddenly

Talgat Alanov made headlines last year when he told reporters that border guards have to pay bribes in order to receive higher positions and ranks.

BISHKEK -- An officer of the Kyrgyz Border Guard Service who publicly raised concerns about corruption in the agency has suddenly died of what officials called a "heart attack," though relatives insist that he had no health problems.

The Border Guard Service said on July 22 that 38-year-old Colonel Talgat Alanov died a day earlier while visiting his relatives in the southern region of Osh.

Alanov's brother Daniyar told RFE/RL that the officer suddenly felt unwell after lunch and died in the ambulance that took him to a hospital in the regional capital, Osh. The officer was buried the next day, in accordance with Islamic traditions. It is not clear if an autopsy was performed.

Alanov made news headlines in November after he told reporters in Bishkek that border guards have to pay bribes in order to receive higher positions and ranks. Alanov also revealed the names of the officers involved in collecting bribes for the agency's top brass.

The Border Guard Service rejected Alanov's statement and accused him of violating the charter of the Armed Forces' interior service. He was later sued by five officers who accused him of libel.

Like many states in the former Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan suffers from widespread corruption that has kept the country enmeshed in poverty. Attempts by whisle-blowers to call attention to corrupt practices in goverment agencies often ends in failure because law enforcement and courts are beholden to the nation's elite.

The presidential press service said in January that a special investigative group had been created to probe Alanov's allegations and the lawsuits filed against him, adding that the Security Council was monitoring the process.

The investigation's results have never been made public.

Kubanychbek Isabekov, a well-known civil right activist, told RFE/RL that Alanov "failed to find the state's support" as a whistle-blower, adding that his death might send a signal to others to stay away from revealing facts of corruption among government officials.

Bishkek-based political observer Tologon Keldibaev told RFE/RL that Alanov's death must be thoroughly investigated to remove any doubts about the cause of his death.

Alanov, a father of six, had served in the Border Guard Service since 2003.