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Dozens Arrested As Kyrgyz Opposition Protests Election Results


Police detain opposition supporters during rally in central Bishkek.

Police detain opposition supporters during rally in central Bishkek.

At least 41 opposition supporters, 30 of them women, were arrested in Bishkek as they marched through the capital to protest against the results of the July 23 presidential election and demand the release of opposition activists detained on election day.

The opposition has claimed that a separate rally in the central Naryn region attracted 1,000 protesters, and that three people were detained and taken to the prosecutor's office.

Government officials in Naryn dismissed the claim, however, saying no rallies took place there.
Opposition Leader Amazbek Atambaev Speaks To RFE/RL


Similar events were reportedly being held in the regions of Chui and Issyk-Kul. Opposition supporters were expected to demand the release of 10 opposition supporters who were arrested in the town of Balykchy in the Issyk-Kul region on election day.

In Bishkek, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported that shortly after the demonstrators' arrest, about 200 people gathered in front of the headquarters of the opposition Social Democratic Party in Bishkek.

The party's leader, Almazbek Atambaev, was the candidate backed by the united opposition and incumbent Kurmanbek Bakiev's main challenger in the poll.

Accusations of Fraud, Intimidation

Speaking to demonstrators in Bishkek, Atambaev claimed that law enforcement forces were not allowing opposition supporters from the provinces to join the rally in the capital.

"Despite the fact the Kyrgyz Constitution allows people to organize peaceful gatherings, the government has exceeded all limits," Atambaev said. "Some 40 people were coming to Bishkek from Chui province, but they were beaten up."

Video: Police detain protesters marching to Bishkek.



At a press conference held by representatives of the Social Democratic and Ata-Meken opposition parties, Atambaev's campaign manager Bakyt Beshimov accused the authorities of widespread election fraud and intimidation of opponents.

"Who, in fact, tried to impede the election? Who pushed our monitors from polling stations with the help of the police and other provocateurs? You have seen who organized provocations during demonstrations," Beshimov said.

"Who destroyed ballot papers and even physically beat up our monitors when they registered election violations? It was Bakiev's government."

The opposition has refused to accept the official results, which gave victory to Bakiev with about 76 percent of the vote. Atambaev received just over 8 percent.

Atambaev, however, said he was the actual winner -- claiming he took 60 percent of the vote -- and called for nationwide rallies.

Business As Usual For Bakiev

During a televised speech on the evening of July 28, Bakiev appeared unmoved by the criticism and pledged to carry out all the promises he had made during the election campaign.

Bakiev said that reforms in the country should not be postponed, and promised to launch the first stage of the administrative reforms in September.

President Bakiev called for reforms.
"Administrative reform is the first step. The final stage includes reform of the law enforcement system," Bakiev said.

"Military reform is being prepared simultaneously with this. We must set up modern and professional armed forces provided with state-of-the-art equipment. These mobile forces must be aimed, in the first place, at fighting terrorism."

Bakiev also said his foreign-policy agenda would not change during his second term in office, and that Russia would remain Kyrgyzstan's main strategic partner, while the country would continue cooperation with the United States and other countries.

"We are developing bilateral economic, cultural, and information cooperation with Russia as the main historical and strategic partner, and to a growing extent with the U.S., as well as with China, Turkey, Japan and Saudi Arabia," Bakiev said.

"We are using all the means available to build our relations with our neighboring countries based on mutual respect and by adhering to national interests."

Atambaev has announced that more rallies will take place on July 30 in the town of Balykchy.

The press secretary of the Social Democratic party, Joomart Saparbaev, told RFE/RL that opposition leaders and activists will start a protest march at 10:00 a.m. local time under Atambaev's leadership, and that participants will demand the immediate release of their fellow oppositionists.

RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service contributed to this report
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