On August 7, Kyrgyz special forces stormed the residency of former president Almazbek Atambayev in the village of Koi-Tash outside the capital of Bishkek. The national security committee (GKNB) described the move as a “special operation to detain former president Almazbek Atambayev.”
Atambayev, who ruled Kyrgyzstan from 2011 to 2017 before handing over to current president Sooronbai Jeenbekov, saw his immunity lifted in June. He’s facing a prosecution over corruption charges. Authorities have repeatedly asked Atambayev to come in for questioning, but he has ignored these calls.
Supporters and bodyguards of Atambayev resisted security forces sparking a series of clashes, which have been still continuing. According to the GKNB, special forces were armed “only with rubber bullets.”
At least 36 people, among them 15 law enforcers, were injured in the clashes, suffering gunshot wounds, concussions and head injuries. A special forces serviceman later succumbed to his injuries.
Atambayev has not been detained yet.
The Kyrgyz governemnt is accusing 62-year-old Atambayev of concealing income, corruption, and other violations. In June, parliament stripped Atambayev of his immunity and his official status as a former president. In own turn, the ex-president has denied all accusations, saying that a “campaign of lies and slander” had been launched against him.
In July, Atambayev travelled to Russia and met with Vladimir Putin. The Russian President pledged his support to Kyrgyzstan but advised “everyone to unite around the current president and help him develop the country.” The conflict in Kyrgyzstan is closely watched by key regional players, with especial attention from the US, China and Russia. In the worst case scenario, the instability in the country may instigate a creation of a new hot point in the Central Asia.