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Kyrgyzstan: Scores Arrested During Antigovernment Protest

Bishkek, 16 May 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Riot police in Kyrgyzstan's capital Bishkek arrested scores of antigovernment protesters demanding the resignation of President Askar Akaev (pictured) today in front of parliament. Demonstration leader Abdysapar Bayalinov of the Ar-Namys Party said riot police dragged protesters by their hands and feet into police cars. Also today, protesters blocked a main road to Bishkek for a fourth day.

The demonstrators demand the resignation of President Askar Akaev, an end to the criminal case against parliamentarian Azimbek Beknazarov, and the release of opposition leader Feliks Kulov. Both men face charges which supporters say are politically motivated. Demonstrators also oppose a proposed agreement ceding some Kyrgyz land to China. President Akaev had been scheduled to attend a parliamentary session today on political unrest in the country, but canceled for what his office said were health reasons.