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Russian Duma Deputies Accuse Kyrgyz Deputy Premier Of Corruption

First Deputy Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov
First Deputy Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov
BISHKEK -- The leader of a ruling party faction in the Kyrgyz parliament says if corruption allegations made by Russian politicians against First Deputy Prime Minister Omurbek Babanov are proven then his party will leave the coalition government, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Ata-Jurt (Homeland) faction head Kamchybek Tashiev said on March 9 that the charges against Babanov made by visiting Russian State Duma deputies Aleksei Ostrovsky and Semyon Bagdasarov in Bishkek earlier that day must be proven in court before Ata-Jurt would leave the government.

Babanov, 40, is the head of Respublika, which along with Ata-Jurt and the Social Democratic Party make up Kyrgyzstan's ruling coalition headed by Prime Minister Almazbek Atambaev.

Ostrovsky and Bagdasarov said in Bishkek that a Babanov-led campaign "to deprive Russian businessmen of their [stake in Megacom]," one of the country's leading mobile operators, is having a "negative impact on Russian-Kyrgyz relations."

But Iskhak Pirmatov, a Respublika parliament deputy, told RFE/RL on March 9 the results of a preliminary government investigation found that Eventis Telecom -- which controls the Russian shares in Megacom -- had taken some $27 million from Megacom since last April.

Alfa Telekom, which was founded by Aleksei Eliseyev, took over Megacom in 2008. Eliseyev is an associate of Maksim Bakiev, son of deposed President Kurmanbek Bakiev.

After Bakiev was ousted in April 2010, the interim Kyrgyz government took a 49 percent stake in Megacom and Eventis Telecom took control of the remaining 51 percent.

Former Megacom managers Andrei Silich and Aleksandr Borozdin, representatives of Eventis Telecom, fled Kyrgyzstan before criminal investigations were opened against them in January regarding alleged embezzlement.

Some Kyrgyz politicians objected to the visit and comments made by the Russian Duma deputies.

Roza Aknazarova, a deputy from Respublika, told RFE/RL on March 9 that "no one country has a right to interfere in our issues. The [State Duma members] came here and even gave a final recommendation to the Kyrgyz government [to reconsider situation surrounding Megacom], they have no right to do that. They didn't consult with our Foreign Ministry, or the Kyrgyz Embassy in Russia. It's a completely incorrect action."

Separate investigations by the Kyrgyz Prosecutor-General's Office and the parliament are being conducted. A parliamentary commission formed to discuss the Megacom situation held its first meeting on March 10.

Read more in Kyrgyz here and here