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Officer of the Kyrgyz traffic police shot Russian serviceman from the Kant AF Base

22.04.2008 08:55 msk

Kommersant

Kyrgyzstan

An incident involving an officer of the Russian Kant AF Base and Kyrgyz traffic police patrol resulted in hospitalization of the former on Sunday night. Rushed to the intensive care unit with a gunshot wound, the Russian officer was urgently operated on (doctors had to amputate the spleen and a rib). The Russian Embassy is expected to serve a stiffly-worded protest note. The Kyrgyz Interior Ministry in the meantime claims that charges were pressed against the Russians since it was them in the first who had resisted the Kyrgyz police.

According to the Russian Embassy, an auto with three officers was returning from Bishkek to the Kant AF Base 25 kilometers from the Kyrgyz capital when a Jeep without license plates was encountered blocking the road. Four men emerged from the Jeep, three of them in police uniforms and wielding service firearms. "No papers were shown or reasons given, but the Russians were forced out of the auto and made get down on the asphalt," a source in the Russian Embassy said. Russian officers were then beaten, their attempts to introduce themselves seeming to further infuriate the assailants. According to the same source, "one of the assailants fired several shots in the Russians and wounded one of the victims, a senior lieutenant." The Russians shoved into the Jeep, the assailants began driving them in the direction of Bishkek. When one of the Russians drew the assailants' attention to the shot officer, the Jeep made a turn to Kant. The wounded was hospitalized there. The assailants drove away. The Russians immediately contacted the base command and reported the incident.

When representatives of the Kant AF Base turned up at the hospital, they encountered a large group of Kyrgyz policemen who wouldn't introduce themselves or offer comment. Diplomats of the Russian Embassy say as well that doctors of the central district hospital turned down all requests to examine the two other officers involved in the incident. First aid rendered, the wounded was moved to Bishkek for extensive surgery. What information is available indicates that his spleen and rib had to be amputated. The officer's condition is currently appraised as grave. The Kant AF Base command and the Russian Embassy refuse to identify the officer by name. It is only known that he came to Kyrgyzstan from the Moscow region two years ago.

Kyrgyz Deputy Interior Minister Temirkan Subanov denied any assault carried out by the police. "Riding an auto without the license plate on the rear bumper, three officers of the Russian airbase refused the order to pull over from the police manning the checkpoint at one of Bishkek exits. The police were compelled to give chase." When the auto with the Russians was finally stopped, the Russians refused to emerge and actually resisted the Kyrgyz police, Subanov explained. "One of the policemen fired several warning shots in the air," he said. "The Russians persisted though, and the policeman fired again. It was this last shot that wounded a Russian." Subanov added that the Russians had been drunk. "I myself visited the site, you know," he said. "Investigators were dispatched to Kant. Criminal proceedings were instigated in connection with resistance to representatives of the police, investigation launched."

Determined to demand a rigorous investigation, the Russian Embassy is drawing a note of protest. Diplomats say that this is the first episode of hostility directed against Russian servicemen in the five years of existence of the airbase.

Observers point out in the meantime that servicemen of the Kant AF Base enjoy diplomatic immunity under the terms of the Russian-Kyrgyz treaty. It means that actions of the Kyrgyz police in the incident might be evaluated as unlawful. Diplomatic immunity also applies to personnel of the US AF base in Manas. An American shot a citizen of Kyrgyzstan by name of Alexander Ivanov two years ago. Not even officials of the Kyrgyz Prosecutor General's Office were permitted to meet with the American they had intended to interrogate afterwards. In fact, the murderer left Kyrgyzstan a fortnight later and returned to the United States. The investigation is run by the Americans themselves.

Source: Kommersant, No 67, April 21, 2008, p. 11. © Translated by Ferghana.Ru