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Crisis In Kyrgyzstan: Ex-President Atambayev Surrendered To Authorities After Two Days Of Clashes

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Crisis In Kyrgyzstan: Ex-President Atambayev Surrendered To Authorities After Two Days Of Clashes

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On August 8th, former President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev voluntarily surrendered to the authorities and left his home in Koy-Tash, accompanied by security officials.

This happened at about 19:00 local time.

A few hours earlier, Special Forces conducted another assault on his residence using a water cannon.

There were repeated skirmishes between Atambayev’s supporters and the police. On several occasions, the former president’s supporters managed to break through the police barriers, but the security forces did not allow the main group of Atambayev’s supporters to reach the residence.

After the arrest, Atambayev was taken to the State Committee for National Security. His closest supporters, Farid Niyazov and Kunduz Zholdubaeva, were detained with him.

According to Atambayev’s lawyer, Sergey Slesarev, Atambayev was charged with corruption in the case of the illegal release of Aziz Batukaev. Aziz Batukaev is a Kyrgyz crime boss, who was allegedly released in 2013 on orders of the ex-president.

“The charge is unfounded. How can it be justified if my client was invited as a witness, but was not interrogated? He was immediately given a notice of suspicion. This is the scenario that was pre-planned. These actions are illegal because Almazbek Atambayev, as the ex-president, has immunity,” Slesarev said.

Atambayev was stripped of his presidential immunity after a parliamentary vote in June 2019.

Slesarev further said that Atambayev refused to cooperate with the investigators and refused to sign the investigative documents.

According to the lawyer, Almazbek Atambayev refused to sign a notice of suspicion, a protocol of interrogation, a resolution on a motion to change a preventive measure, a document on a preventive measure. According to Slesarev, Atambayev is in a “good mood, calm and balanced.”

In the late evening of August 8, approximately 1,000 people gathered in Ala-Too Square. Many of them were aggressive towards journalists. The police dispersed them after about an hour, using stun grenades.

Farid Niyazov, a member of the SDPK political council, said that Atambayev’s supporters did not use force – according to him, security forces shot people first with rubber bullets and then with live rounds. Which doesn’t seem quite likely.

Throughout almost the entire day, the road from Bishkek to Koy-Tash was blocked by police cordons. The police presence intensified, the closer it got to Koy-Tash – the authorities did this to prevent Atambaev’s supporters who tried to get into his residence, when it was being stormed.

On the afternoon of August 8th, many large Bishkek stores, shopping centers, banks announced early closures. Groups of people said they would be “on duty” all night as to prevent possible looting.

Crisis In Kyrgyzstan: Ex-President Atambayev Surrendered To Authorities After Two Days Of Clashes

Click to see full-size image

Separately, Presidential Candidate Omurbek Babanov returned to Kyrgyzstan on August 9th.

About 200 supporters welcomed him at the airport.

“I’m glad I came back. I am grateful to everyone for their support,” Babanov told his supporters.

The GKNB on August 8th reported that Babanov would be detained if he returned to Kyrgyzstan. He is accused on two criminal charges – “inciting ethnic hatred” and “preparing for a violent seizure of power and riots.” But the second case is still not initiated.

Earlier, in April 2019, Omurbek Babanov announced that he was going to return to Kyrgyzstan. On the day of his planned return, he posted a photo of his boarding pass. Babanov’s supporters were preparing to meet him at the airport, but he canceled his arrival.

He was the main opponent in the presidential election in 2017, which was won by Sooronbay Jeenbekov.

After his loss and victory of Jeenbekov, Babanov left Kyrgyzstan. Soon criminal proceedings were initiated against him.

Babanov called on Jeenbekov and Atambayev to stop the confrontation

“A tragic event is happening in our Kyrgyzstan again! I urge the incumbent president Sooronbai Jeenbekov and ex-president Almazbek Atambayev to stop the confrontation between people and law enforcement agencies! The people in Koy-Tash and the special forces are our citizens, our sons, daughters, sisters and brothers! You can’t push them forward to death and ruin their destinies! This confrontation may lead to even worse consequences!,” he said.

What is likely, though, is that Babanov believed that the sensitive situation in the country is a chance for him to rise to power, by way of populism and presumed “common sense.”

Crisis In Kyrgyzstan: Ex-President Atambayev Surrendered To Authorities After Two Days Of Clashes

Supporters of Mr Atambayev were in celebratory mood after driving special forces from his home. IMAGE: AFP

The current situation in Kyrgyzstan is of interest to any political observer following developments in the Central Asia.

Almazbek Atambayev is a key figure in the country’s politics. He became the first president that really contributed efforts to strengthen the democratic institutions of Kyrgyzstan and achieved visible results in this goal (separation of powers, strengthening of constitutional procedures etc). Atambayev also organized a peaceful transfer of power after loosing the election in 2017. This happened despite multiple provocations from his opponents during the presidential campaign. His supporters and local experts describe Atambayev as a straightforward and courageous person. He’s a pretty fair minded towards his inner circle and contacts.

At the same time, Atambayev was not able to implement, or at least propose, system reforms of the country’s economic, as well as to expand own population and get additional supporters. Negative sides of his personality includes irascibility and impetuosity. Some experts say that he lacks the strategic vision.

Atambayev is charged for corruption and links to the criminal. These accusations seem to be reasonable. Nonetheless, it should be noted that in Kyrgyzstan it’s often had to distinguish the local oligarchy and the organized crime. The local oligarchy easily turn into the organized crime and back again depending on the situation in the country and personalities that occupy key posts.

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