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Kyrgyzstan Says Expelled Ruling-Party Official Seeking Asylum In U.S.

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyzstan's Foreign Ministry says a former senior member of the ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD) who was expelled in August has asked for political asylum in the United States.

The ministry said on November 9 that the Kyrgyz Embassy in Washington had been informed that Renat Samudiniov and his wife, Elnura Moldokadyrova, were detained by U.S. Customs officers on October 18 after arriving without proper entry documents.

According to the ministry, the couple asked for political asylum and were in the custody of U.S. immigration authorities.

Samudinov and U.S. authorities could not immediately be reached for comment.

Samudinov, who headed the SDP's youth wing, was expelled from the SDP in August for what the party said was a "violation of the party's charter and discipline." It did not give details.

After he was kicked out, Samudinov publicly accused the party of "betraying democratic principles and serving oligarchs."

Moldokadyrova, a journalist, was fired by state television channel OTRK, also in August. She claimed that her dismissal was politically motivated, which OTRK denied.

President Almazbek Atambaev and President-elect Sooronbai Jeenbekov, who takes office on November 24, are SDP members.

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