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Son Of Kyrgyz 'National Hero' Spent Misguided Death Benefit

Relatives of people killed during the Kyrgyz uprising in 2010 received more than $20,000 compensation from the government.
Relatives of people killed during the Kyrgyz uprising in 2010 received more than $20,000 compensation from the government.
BISHKEK -- The son of a man erroneously believed killed in last year's antigovernment uprising in Kyrgyzstan says he spent all the compensation money -- on a commemoration service for his "dead" father, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Maralbek Maksymbekov, who was listed as among those killed in the April 2010 protests in Bishkek, was revealed last week to be alive and well in Russia.

Now his son, Erlanbek, has confirmed to RFE/RL that he received more than $20,000 compensation from the Kyrgyz government for his father's reported death.

Erlanbek told RFE/RL by phone that he spent the money on a big ceremony to commemorate his father.

"They gave me [the money] themselves," he said. "We held prayers [for my father] in Bishkek. One year later I found out that he is alive. Do you think I took the million [soms, $21,200] on purpose?"

Erlanbek said he is currently in Yekaterinburg, where he moved earlier this month, and works at a car wash together with his father.

He did not say whether he plans to return the death benefit.

Maralbek Maksymbekov, a 48-year-old native of southern Jalal-Abad province and father of four, was listed among 87 people killed in the clashes between protesters and security forces in Bishkek on April 7, 2010, which culminated in the ousting of President Kurmanbek Bakiev.

Earlier this month, parliament deputy Altynbek Sulaimanov told the parliament that Maksymbekov is alive and living in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

Maksymbekov subsequently told RFE/RL he first heard about his status as a national hero a few weeks ago from a fellow Kyrgyz migrant working in Russia.

Maksymbekov said he doesn't know how his sons identified the dead body of a protester as him. He said he did not have any contacts with his relatives in Kyrgyzstan for a long time, and that might have given rise to the false identification.

Once the "identification" was complete, the authorities added Maksymbekov's name to the list of dead protesters.

The body, which authorities say had gunshot wounds to the chest, was buried in the Ata-Beyit memorial site along with other victims.

Read more in Kyrgyz here