Crackdown on Kyrgyz protests after detention of ex-politician

By bne IntelliNews March 27, 2017

Hundreds of protesters were dispersed in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek on March 25 after they took to the streets following the detention of ex-parliamentary deputy Sadyr Zhaparov.

Kyrgyz police used stun grenades against 500 protesters who gathered outside the security service headquarters in central Bishkek. Dozens of demonstrators were detained. The event marks the latest development in growing political tensions in the country - similar protests were held after the detention of the head of Ata-Meken party, Omurbek Tekebayev.

Both Zhaparov and Tekebayev apparently intended to run for the presidency during this year’s November elections. That makes both of the arrests questionable, as Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev’s constitutional fiddle has raised suspicions he might be planning to stay in power beyond his six-year term. While he has repeatedly stated his intentions to pursue no further political office, his critics suspect he hopes to appoint his own loyal prime minister and possibly manipulate elections in favour of his own chosen presidential candidates.

Two previous Kyrgyz presidential regimes, excluding Roza Otunbayeva’s interim government in 2010, were toppled via violent revolutions - those of Askar Akayev in 2005 and Kurmanbek Bakiyev in 2010.

Zhaparov’s arrest is tied to charges that he took a government official hostage in 2013. Zhaparov was away from Kyrgyzstan for three years in self-imposed exile until he returned on March 25, only to be arrested.

The arrests raise further concerns that Kyrgyzstan is moving away from the democratic path set by the two revolutions and may face another violent regime change, potentially cementing the country as a failed state, according to some analysts.

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