Two senior members of Kyrgyzstan's interim government have become embroiled in a bitter war of words, with claims of corruption spawning accusations of libel.
Deputy Prime Minister Temir Sariyev on Wednesday accused First Deputy Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev of libel after Atambayev said in a public address that Sariyev was implicated in the embezzlement of budget funds.
The accusations follow the publication on the Internet earlier in May of telephone conversations between several members of the interim government.
During one of the conversations, Sariyev and another deputy prime minister, law enforcement chief Azimbek Beknazarov, apparently discussed how to secretly withdraw $1 million from the budget.
The notorious exchange sparked suspicions of embezzlement of budget funds by interim government officials. Atambayev demanded criminal proceedings be launched into the issues discussed during the telephone call, saying the legal process had to be fair and open.
Atambayev vowed that if this did not happen he would reveal "even more terrible things with documents in my possession."
In response to Atambayev's accusations, Sariyev said the $1 million mentioned in the conversation was intended to be spent on assuring public order in the protest-hit southern Kyrgyz cities, considered a traditional stronghold of ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and his supporters.
"Kyrgyz interim government First Deputy Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev openly accused me of using my position for alleged selfish purposes," Sariyev said, adding that he did not want to respond to the "insults, unfounded attacks and emotionally-heated statements" but was given no choice by the defamatory comments.
Sariyev said such libel could only be made by an "emotionally unstable" person.
"Responsible politicians must make responsible statements and not become involved in plots," Sariyev said.
Kyrgyzstan has been wracked by violent protests since a series of demonstrations in early April sparked widespread unrest in which more than 80 people died. Bakiyev fled and an interim government was formed by the opposition, which has struggled to extend its writ to the south of the country, the powerbase of the former president, who has taken refuge in Belarus.
BISHKEK, May 26 (RIA Novosti)