From: Reuters
Published February 27, 2008 04:00 AM

Kyrgyz contest: $1,000 for anti-U.S. airbase song

BISHKEK (Reuters) - Kyrgyz rights activists will offer a prize of up to $1,000 in a contest for the 'best song' to protest against the presence of U.S. troops in the Central Asian republic, the event's organizer said.

Igor Trofimov, a rights campaigner spearheading the anti-airbase movement which groups a few dozen activists, said the author of the best song would perform at a rally outside the U.S. embassy in April.

"We are holding a contest among rockers and rappers. Prizes range from $200 to $1,000," he said late on Tuesday without specifying who sponsored the project.

The U.S. airbase, set up in 2001 to support operations in Afghanistan, is key to Washington's strategic presence in Central Asia but some Kyrgyz activists have called on their government to shut it down.

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Protests such as Trofimov's, though small, have struck a chord with many Kyrgyz people who have mixed feelings about the presence of U.S. troops since 2006 when a U.S. airman shot dead a Kyrgyz man at the airbase.

The government has rejected calls to evict U.S. troops and defended the airbase's importance. Kyrgyzstan, an impoverished former Soviet nation, is also home to a Russian military airbase.

(Reporting by Olga Dzyubenko; Writing by Maria Golovnina; Editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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