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Kyrgyz Premier Sacks Minister Following Mass Protest

Deputy Interior Minister Kursan Asanov went to meet the protesters.
BISHKEK/JALAL-ABAD -- Kyrgyz Prime Minister Almazbek Atambaev has dismissed State Property Minister Nurdin Ilebaev in response to a demand by hundreds of protesters in the south of the country, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Hundreds of supporters of Kanybek Masirov, former head of the state-controlled oil corporation KyrgyzMunaiGaz, blocked a major highway in the south on May 31 to demand Ilebaev's dismissal.

Ilebaev fired Masirov late last month. No official reason was given for the move.

The protesters say the decision to dismiss Masirov was politically motivated. They point out that Ilebaev represents the Respublika party, which is a member of the ruling coalition, while Masirov is a member of the opposition Ata-Meken party.

Atambaev today introduced an "external directorate" to lead KyrgyzMunaiGaz and appointed Jenishbek Jumashev as the directorate's acting head.

Deputy Interior Minister Kursan Asanov went to meet the protesters today and tried to persuade them to allow traffic to move on the Osh-Bishkek highway.

The protesters agreed to "temporarily unblock" the highway after they learned about Atambaev's decision to sack Ilebaev.

But they say they do not agree with Atambaev's decision to establish an external directorate to oversee KyrgyzMunaiGaz. Instead, they want Masirov reinstated as the corporation's director.

The protesters told RFE/RL that they will continue blocking the highway until Masirov is renamed head of KyrgyzMunaiGaz.

Read more in Kyrgyz here and here