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Kyrgyz President Opens Memorial To Victims Of 1916 Tsarist Mass Killing

  • RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service

Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev has unveiled a memorial to victims of 1916 tsarist Russia's mass killing of Kyrgyz.

Speaking at a ceremony for the memorial's opening near Bishkek on September 2, Atambaev called the events "a national liberation uprising for the preservation of native land and the struggle for freedom."

He added that Kyrgyzstan and Russia share a common history and will share much in the future.

During World War I, Russia decided to draft the indigenous peoples of Central Asia into the army as unarmed workers who would build trenches and fortifications.

Many Kyrgyz and Kazakhs refused to go and openly rebelled against Russian authorities.

It is believed that between 100,000 and 270,000 ethnic Kyrgyz were killed by tsarist Russia's punitive battalions, as hundreds of thousands of others fled to the neighboring Chinese province of Xinjiang.

Last month, a public commission in Kyrgyzstan concluded that the 1916 mass crackdown was genocide.

In April, Russian State Duma chairman Sergei Naryshkin rejected the genocide allegations in regard to the uprisings, saying that "all nations suffered 100 years ago."

With reporting by Interfax