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Kyrgyz Presidential Candidates To Take Language Tests

Kyrgyz Prime Minister Almazbek Atambaev is considered to be a front-runner for the upcoming presidential poll.
BISHKEK -- The Kyrgyz Central Election Commission (BSK) says mandatory Kyrgyz-language tests for potential presidential candidates will begin on September 7, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

BSK member Kanat Abdukadyrov told RFE/RL on September 5 that five candidates per day will take the tests -- which will be televised nationwide -- on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays through September 24.

The language tests are popular with television viewers as people laugh at many of the potential candidates' silly mistakes and struggles to speak correct Kyrgyz in a country where Russian is the first language for many people.

Presidential candidates must also pay a 100,000 som ($2,200) registration fee before taking the test. In addition, would-be candidates must submit to the BSK September 10 documented proof that they have at least 30,000 supporters for their presidential bid.

BSK member Almaz Asanaliev told RFE/RL that 18 of the 78 people who expressed an intention to take part in the presidential elections have thus far paid the registration fee.

Several potential candidates picketed the parliament building in Bishkek on Monday (September 5) calling for the registration fee and requirement for 30,000 supporters to be dropped.

Abdukadyrov told RFE/RL that all official candidates who paid the registration fee, proved they had 30,000 supporters, and passed the language test will be announced on September 25.

President Roza Otunbaeva -- who headed Kyrgyzstan's interim government after former President Kurmanbek Bakiev was ousted by antigovernment protests in April 2010 -- has kept her pledge not to run for another term in office.

Otunbaeva was later approved in a nationwide referendum as president for the period until a presidential election was held.

Prime Minister Almazbek Atambaev is currently considered one of the favorites to be elected president.

Read more in Kyrgyz here, here, and here