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Kyrgyz Deputies Criticized For Junket To Malaysia, Indonesia

File photo of Kyrgyz parliamentary deputies at work
File photo of Kyrgyz parliamentary deputies at work
BISHKEK -- The speaker of the Kyrgyz parliament and other lawmakers have come under fire for spending public funds during a trip to Malaysia and Indonesia, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

The 36-member Kyrgyz delegation, led by parliament speaker Akmatbek Keldibekov and including 15 parliamentarians, allegedly spent more than $200,000 on the July 10-16 trip.

Critics said the trip was pointless and a waste of government funds.

Opposition Ata-Meken party deputy Omurbek Abdurakhmanov told RFE/RL that he declined an invitation to join the delegation because he considered it a waste of taxpayer money.

He said Kyrgyzstan had no trade relations with Malaysia or Indonesia and the Kyrgyz deputies were "just visiting."

Kyrgyz Ambassador to Malaysia Askar Beshimov told RFE/RL on July 15 that the Kyrgyz government paid for a visit to Kyrgyzstan in 2009 by nine Malaysian deputies, and that this year Malaysia footed the bill for nine Kyrgyz deputies to visit Malaysia.

Beshimov said the other Kyrgyz officials and other travelers used money from the Kyrgyz state budget to pay for the visit.

Kubanychbek Omuraliev, a political analyst and head of a public association called Kyrgyz Parliamentarians Against Corruption, told RFE/RL that if the working visit had been more modest, few people would have paid attention to it.

But Omuraliev said a delegation of 36 people appeared suspicious.

He said the delegation included a "cameraman, photographer, and a press secretary," which raised the question of why one person could not perform all three duties.

Omuraliev said the delegation could have been smaller and could have flown on a regularly scheduled flight instead of a charter aircraft.