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Jailed Former Kyrgyz Minister Urges Supporters To End Hunger Strike

Protesters in the Osh region gather to show their support for Isakov.

Protesters in the Osh region gather to show their support for Isakov.

BISHKEK -- Former Kyrgyz Defense Minister Ismail Isakov, who was sentenced to eight years in jail last week, today called on protesters to end a week-old hunger strike in his support, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Isakov's lawyer, Azimbek Beknazarov, told protesters in Bishkek that he had met with Isakov, who thanked them for their support but urged them to stop the strike.

But hunger strike leader Topchubek Turgunaliev of the United Popular Movement (UPM) told RFE/RL that Isakov's supporters intend to continue the protest until Isakov is fully acquitted of the charges against him.

There are currently five people on hunger strike in Bishkek and nine people in the remote Alai district in Osh region, Isakov's hometown. Several people ended the strike because of deteriorating health.

About 40 people have taken part in the hunger strikes in Isakov’s support, replacing those who were too weak to continue.

Isakov, a lieutenant-general who served as Kyrgyzstan's defense minister from 2005-08, was found guilty of issuing an apartment to someone based on false documents.

He was a close associate of Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev and became defense minister shortly after the March 2005 Tulip Revolution that brought Bakiev to power.

Isakov was appointed secretary of the National Security Council in May 2008. He left the post in October 2008 and joined Kyrgyzstan's political opposition.

Isakov's supporters and human rights groups say the case against him is in retaliation for his opposition activities.