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EU Chiefs Urged To Press Atambaev On Rights In Kyrgyzstan

BRUSSELS -- Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev was expected to face questions about the protection of human rights in his Central Asian country during meetings with senior EU officials on March 27.

Atambaev was meeting European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk.

Ahead of Atambaev's visit to Brussels, Human Rights Watch urged EU leaders to press for the release of rights activist Azimjan Askarov, who is serving a life sentence after being convicted of crimes related to deadly ethnic clashes in 2010.

Askarov maintains his innocence and says his conviction was retaliation for his activism.

New York-based Human Rights Watch also urged the EU to press Atambaev to reject legislation it says would violate the rights of gay people in Kyrgyzstan and require many NGOs to register as "foreign agents."

European Parliament President Martin Schulz brought up the two bills in talks with Atambaev on March 26.

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