CORRECTED-INSIGHT-Young nation Kyrgyzstan fights over gold at top of the world

Wed Apr 3, 2013 6:55am EDT
 
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(Paragraph 11 has been corrected to state that two of three lawmakers sentenced last week for leading a demonstration came from the south of the country. An earlier version of this story said that all three came from the south.)

* Biggest foreign investment in Central Asian state at risk

* Nationalists demand expropriation, threaten protests

* Prime minister urges calm, reassures investors

* Unstable ex-Soviet state buffeted by regional rivalries

By Dmitry Solovyov

KUMTOR, Kyrgyzstan, April 3 (Reuters) - In an impoverished young nation with a habit of overthrowing its rulers, the future now balances on a mountain of gold at the top of the world, where the air is so thin collapsing visitors may be rushed to a pressure chamber for oxygen.

After two revolutions in eight years, nationalists in Kyrgyzstan are threatening to return to the streets to topple another government unless it expropriates the Kumtor goldmine, a treasure they say was sold off too cheaply to foreigners.

Parliament in the remote ex-Soviet Central Asian state has set a deadline of June 1 for the government to renegotiate - or repudiate - a deal struck in 2009 with Canadian firm Centerra Gold to operate the mine.   Continued...