Russia

Russian Lawmakers Approve Second Reading Of Bill Tightening ‘Gay Propaganda’ Law

A Kyrgyz lawmaker claims he has come under pressure after an argument with the country's security chief over a border deal with neighboring Uzbekistan.

Omurbek Bakirov told RFE/RL on November 22 that attempts were being made to "denigrate" him, with the aim of removing him from parliament, an accusation rejected by his critics.

Bakirov said he was given several hours by the presidential administration to vacate his office at Bishkek's White House, the headquarters of both the presidency and parliament, the Jogorku Kenesh.

A letter from the president's office on November 18 said Bakirov would be offered another office but didn't give further details.

Bakirov and Kamchybek Tashiev, the head of the National Committee for State Security, argued during a parliament session on November 17 as the legislature ratified a bilateral deal with Uzbekistan on border demarcation and jointly managing the Kempir-Abad water reservoir.

The accord has faced fierce criticism and public protests.

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Bakirov said Tashiev "got personal" when he questioned the security chief over a previous deal that involved another reservoir in southern Osh Province.

"He suddenly began to get personal, saying, 'We know who you are, and we know how you were chosen, we'll see soon.' But it wasn't about me. I said, 'Then cook and eat me if you will.' He said, 'What are you, a partridge that I should eat you?'" Bakirov said.

Bakirov called Tashiev's comments clear "threats and intimidation" against him.

Without naming any individuals, Tashiev said in a television interview on November 18 that some lawmakers had spread provocative information and asked him tricky questions in parliament in order to score political points by using the sensitive topic of the border agreement.

The incident has sparked mixed reactions among the public. Some have condemned it as pressure on parliamentary immunity and its constitutional guarantees.

Others accused Bakirov of trying to exploit the situation to save his own political career amid an allegation that a 2021 criminal case against him on charges of electoral fraud could be revived.

Bakirov was among 19 lawmakers who voted against the border agreement on November 17.

The Uzbek parliament's lower and upper chamber approved the accord on November 14 and November 18, respectively. The presidents of both countries must still sign the deal for it to become valid.

Under the deal, Kyrgyzstan will hand over the territory of the Kempir-Abad reservoir, which covers 4,485 hectares, to Uzbekistan in exchange for over 19,000 hectares elsewhere.

President Sadyr Japarov and his allies claim the agreement benefits Kyrgyzstan and that Kyrgyz farmers will still have access to the water reservoir.

But many Kyrgyz civil activists, opposition politicians, and residents living close to the dam are against the deal, saying Uzbekistan should continue to be allowed to use the water, but the reservoir's land should remain within Kyrgyzstan.

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