Kyrgyzstan leader who defied dismissal order agrees to step down

The governor of a restive southern Kyrgyz region who defied a presidential dismissal order has agreed to step down, the president's office said Tuesday, in a move that is expected to ease mounting tensions. Under an agreement reached Monday, Jalal-Abad Governor Jusupbek Jeenbekov agreed to take a new position offered by President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, said Bakiyev's spokesman, Dosaly Esenaliyev. He declined to specify the new job. Jeenbekov had earlier said the dismissal order came without warning or consultation.

Bakiyev's decision to fire Jeenbekov sparked protests in Jalal-Abad, underscoring the instability the impoverished Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan has experienced since an uprising last year ousted longtime President Askar Akayev.

Hundreds of people demonstrated Monday, and over the weekend, across the nation in support of Jeenbekov.

More than 100 others staged a counter-demonstration Monday, demanding that Jeenbekov step down.

Recent months have seen a series of high-profile slayings in Kyrgyzstan, including the killings of three lawmakers. There have also been prison riots, battles for lucrative businesses and sometimes-violent public demonstrations.

Also Tuesday, a court in the capital Bishkek acquitted on murder charges Ryspek Akmatbayev, an alleged criminal boss who has become increasingly public under the new administration.

In October, Akmatbayev, who was accused of killing a police official and two members of rival criminal gangs, led protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Felix Kulov whom he had accused of involvement in the murder of his brother, who was a lawmaker.

Protests ended after authorities pledged a thorough investigation. Meanwhile, Deputy Interior Minister Omurbek Suvanaliyev told parliament that police have arrested a senior security official on suspicion of involvement in murder of well-known international wrestler, Raatbek Sanatbayev.

Suvanaliyev said, however, that Aldoyar Ismankulov, the National Security Service chief for organized crime, was released on Wednesday a day after his arrest by the chief prosecutor's office, which demanded that it take over the case. He also said that the National Security Service barred police from searching Ismankulov's office.

The wrestler was slain on Jan. 8 in a killing that some linked to an ongoing struggle for control of the national Olympic Committee, reports the AP.


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