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    Kyrgyz parliament allows MPs to carry personal firearms

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    BISHKEK, December 14 (RIA Novosti) - The Kyrgyz parliament Thursday passed an amendment to the law governing the status of members of parliament that will allow them to carry firearms.

    Asamidin Maripov, a member of parliament, said the right to possess personal firearms will be granted to deputies for life, and not just for the duration of their term in office. He said the move will ensure the personal safety of parliamentarians.

    Criminality has been on the rise in Kyrgyzstan, one of the poorest former Soviet republics, where just this year two members of parliament and one parliamentary candidate were killed.

    One of those killed was Ryspek Akmatbayev, a critic of the government, who was gunned down May 10.

    Akmatbayev won a parliamentary by-election April 9, and was to fill the seat formerly occupied by his brother, Tynychbek Akmatbayev, who was himself killed along with three aides while negotiating with prison inmates rioting over poor conditions in October 2005.

    The country's deputy interior minister, Temirkan Subanov, has harshly denounced the move, saying he is categorically opposed to the idea of parliamentarians carrying weapons.

    "There is no law in the world that permits senators or members of parliament to possess firearms for self-protection," he said.

    The Interior Ministry said that according to its data, 22 members of parliament out of 75 already possess firearms, with some of them owning more than one.

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