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Former Kyrgyz Defense Minister To Sue National Commission

Former Kyrgyz Defense Minister Ismail Isakov
Former Kyrgyz Defense Minister Ismail Isakov
BISHKEK -- A former Kyrgyz defense minister says he will sue a state commission that investigated the ethnic clashes between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in southern Kyrgyzstan last summer, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

General Ismail Isakov, who was President Roza Otunbaeva's defense minister and special representative in the south during the unrest, said in Bishkek that the National Commission's conclusions -- in which he was cited as one of the government leaders responsible for allowing the clashes to take place -- are "superficial and groundless."

Isakov -- who is a parliament deputy -- said the commission's conclusions have impacted negatively on his "personal dignity and honor" and so he will defend himself in court.

The National Commission made public the results of its investigation on January 11. It identified several members of the then Kyrgyz interim government as responsible for the violence, including Isakov and governors and local leaders in the Osh and Jalal-Abad oblasts.

The commission's report said 426 people were killed in the clashes, of whom 381 have been identified -- 276 ethnic Uzbeks and 105 Kyrgyz. The commission estimated that the damage to infrastructure in Osh and Jalal-Abad from the violence totaled $700 million.

Isakov said the interim government was working in very difficult circumstances at a time when ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiev's supporters were organizing provocations in different parts of the country, especially in the south. He said it was a difficult time for the whole country, including the interim government, but the commission did not take many of those factors into account in drawing its conclusions.

Isakov also served as defense minister under Bakiev from 2005-08, when he resigned to join the opposition. He was sentenced in January 2010 to eight years in prison for corruption. The charges were seen by many as politically motivated because of his decision to leave Bakiev's government for the opposition.

He was exonerated by a military court in April, one week after Bakiev was ousted.

Read in Kyrgyz here