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Kyrgyzstan's Interior Ministry said on Monday a Russian airbase serviceman hospitalized
Kyrgyzstan's Interior Ministry said on Monday a Russian airbase serviceman hospitalized after a clash with a Kyrgyz traffic policeman was accidentally shot.

The ministry earlier said the officer and a fellow Russian base serviceman, along with a Kyrgyz national, ignored police orders to stop their vehicle on Sunday. They were chased by police and forced to stop near the Kant airbase, about 20 miles west of the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek.

"A traffic police officer approached the car and demanded ID," Deputy Interior Minister Temirkan Subanov said. "The serviceman behind the wheel refused to comply, insulted the officer, and attempted to seize his gun."

Subanov said the Kyrgyz officer fired his gun inadvertently in the ensuring clash. The gun was cocked as he had earlier fired several warning shots into the air, the deputy minister said.

The ministry earlier said the Russian was drunk at the time of the incident.

The Russian Embassy in Bishkek said on Sunday that the Russians had been attacked for an unknown reason, and that one of the attackers had shot the serviceman several times while he was lying on the ground. The embassy has demanded an investigation into the incident.

The condition of Maxim Zotov, 24, the head of the Russian airbase's financial service brought to a Bishkek hospital with a bullet wound to his right lung and spleen and rib fractures, remains serious, but that he has "shown signs of recovery," the country's Health Ministry said on Monday.

A senior Kyrgyz Interior Ministry official engaged in the investigation said the use of weapons was justified.

Kyrkkeldi Kydyrbayev said Kyrgyz traffic police were "allowed to use weapons to stop a vehicle, which poses a threat to security and health of people."

In an interview with Kyrgyz media, former prime minister and opposition leader Felix Kulov called the incident outrageous.

"I am sure using weapons could have been avoided. An unbiased investigation into the incident must be conducted in cooperation with Russian representatives. This would remove unnecessary questions," Kulov said.

In summer 2007, Kulov's party proposed a union between Kyrgyzstan and Russia in order to lead the country out of political turmoil and poverty.

Russia has a military airbase in Kyrgyzstan, which currently deploys about 400 troops, 20 combat and transport planes, helicopters, and L-39 trainers. The troops are stationed at Kant under an agreement of the regional post-Soviet security group CSTO.

The United State also runs a military base in the country to support anti-terrorism operations in Afghanistan.


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