Lawmakers on Thursday called for the resignation of Kyrgyzstan's security chief amid allegations that one of his senior officials was involved in a murder. The scandal in the ex-Soviet republic erupted Tuesday after Aldoyar Ismankulov, a National Security Service official in charge of fighting organized crime, was released from custody. He had been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the Jan. 9 murder of a prominent international wrestler.
The Interior Ministry complained that the security service obstructed the investigation and that the Military Prosecutor's Office, which took over the case and ordered Ismankulov's release, did not follow proper procedures. Lawmakers voted unanimously for a resolution calling on the head of the National Security Service, Tashtemir Aitbayev, to step down.
Under Kyrgyz law, the security chief is appointed by the president. President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's office had no immediate comment on the resolution.
The scandal comes amid concerns about the increasing influence of criminal bosses in this small impoverished Central Asian nation, which has been unstable since the March ouster of the long-ruling former President Askar Akayev. In recent months, the nation has seen a series of high-profile slayings, including the killings of three lawmakers, prison riots and battles for lucrative businesses.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Felix Kulov accused law enforcement agencies and courts of failing to curb organized crime, warning about "a growing alarm in society about the merger of criminal world with government." Kulov called the security service's work "extremely unsatisfactory," and he named Aitbayev as one of the people responsible for "the absence of fight against crime and corruption."
Kulov also criticized a Bishkek court for acquitting of murder charges Ryspek Akmatbayev, an alleged criminal boss who has risen to prominence under the new administration.
Akmatbayev on Thursday announced his intention to run for parliament in an April by-election and threatened to "settle personal scores" with Kulov. "As a citizen of a free country I have the right to be a lawmaker," he told reporters.
In October, Akmatbayev led protests demanding the resignation of Kulov, who he had accused of involvement in the murder of his brother, who was a lawmaker. Protests ended after authorities pledged a thorough investigation.
Akmatbayev, who has two previous convictions for setting up a criminal gang and for illegal arms possession, on Thursday called Kulov's allegation that he was a criminal leader "a hallucination", reports the AP. N.U.