Kremlin endorses opposition candidate in Kyrgyzstan: report

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev held talks with an opposition politician from Kyrgyzstan in an apparent endorsement ahead of polls in the unstable Central Asian state, a report said Thursday.

Felix Kulov, the leader of opposition Ar-Namys party, is the first candidate to have met Medvedev ahead of next month's parliamentary polls in the country, a former Soviet republic, Kommersant newspaper said.

Medvedev met Kulov, a former prime minister, at his residence in Gorky outside Moscow on Wednesday.

Kyrgyzstan, which borders China, has been wracked by political chaos and ethnic violence since the toppling of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in bloody street protests in April.

The provisional government of Roza Otunbayeva, a former ambassador to both Britain and the United States, has struggled to impose order since assuming power earlier this year.

Her government received robust backing from Russia after April's popular uprising.

Kommersant, quoting sources in the Kremlin administration, said Russia supported Kulov, who is not the frontrunner in opinion polls, because he backs a presidential republic and wants to change the constitution.

Kyrgyzstan in June voted in favour of creating the first parliamentary republic in Central Asia, a move the Kremlin indicated it did not support.

Medvedev said he had "a hard time imagining" that a parliamentary republic could work in a country wracked by violence.

Earlier this month, Medvedev said he feared that parliamentary democracy would be a "catastrophe" for Kyrgyzstan, leading analysts to suggest the Kremlin might be tempted to endorse an opposition candidate in the country.

During his visit to Moscow, Kulov also met with the head of Russia's ruling United Russia party, Boris Gryzlov, and the two men signed a cooperation agreement, the report said.

© 2010 AFP

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