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U.S. Envoy 'Surprised' At Kyrgyz Reaction To Head Of Violence Probe

New U.S. Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Pamela Spratlen
BISHKEK -- The new U.S. ambassador to Kyrgyzstan has described as "surprising" Kyrgyzstan's reaction to the head of an international commission that investigated last year's deadly interethnic clashes in the south of the country, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Last week, the Kyrgyz parliament declared Finnish politician Kimmo Kiljunen to be a "persona non grata" after a report issued by his commission earlier this month suggested Kyrgyz government forces may have been complicit in the violence of June 2010.

Pamela Spratlen, who arrived to take up her post as U.S. ambassador on May 22, told RFE/RL today.

"The reaction to Mr. Kiljunen is surprising," she said. "But, of course, I think the main thing is that the United States is interested in helping the Kyrgyz Republic, and I think the West will continue to help the Kyrgyz Republic in those efforts that are directed toward establishing the facts and building peace and reconciliation."

Last year's clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz left some 470 people dead in the southern Osh and Jalal-Abad regions.

The report by Kiljunen's commission said some attacks on Uzbek communities might qualify as crimes against humanity.

The Kyrgyz government rejected the report as unacceptable and one-sided.

Spratlen said the United States would continue to support efforts to bring those responsible for the violence to justice.

"In order to establish an opinion about a report, it is important to read it and to take those parts of it that are constructive," she said. "And that includes recommendations that help the country move forward."

Parliament's move against Kiljunen also came after a parliamentary deputy accused him of accepting bribes from Uzbek separatists to make the commission's report on the clashes "one-sided."

Kiljunen dismissed that accusation as "a lie."

The Council of Human Rights Defenders of Kyrgyzstan last week called parliament's move a "shameful decision" and said it should have taken longer to consider its response to the report by Kiljunen's commission.