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Jailed Kyrgyz Opposition Politician's Supporters Demand His Release

Urmat Baryktabasov

Urmat Baryktabasov

BISHKEK -- Supporters of a Kyrgyz opposition leader jailed for trying to overthrow the government are demanding his release, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Urmat Baryktabasov, the leader of the nationalist Meken Tuu (Flag of the Fatherland) party, was sentenced on April 27 to four years in jail.

Bishkek's Birinchi Mai district court found Baryktabasov and 14 of his associates guilty of illegally attempting to seize power and carrying weapons. Some of his co-defendants were jailed for up to 10 years and others received suspended sentences.

Baryktabasov supporter Jamankul Junusov told RFE/RL that none of the charges against Baryktabasov and the others convicted was proven. He said Baryktabasov's supporters plan to send a petition to the Bishkek city court calling for his full acquittal and immediate release.

Baryktabasov and his co-defendants were arrested in August after he led a protest march to Bishkek from his hometown in northern Kyrgyzstan to voice a number of demands, including that he be named prime minister.

After Baryktabasov's arrest, some 2,000 of his supporters staged a demonstration in Bishkek's central square to demand that President Roza Otunbaeva immediately appoint him as prime minister.

Baryktabasov had tried to run for president in 2005, but the Central Election Commission refused to register him because it claimed he had Kazakh citizenship.

Baryktabasov was also charged in absentia with trying to seize power in June 2005. He went into hiding and did not resurface until last year.

Baryktabasov and his lawyers say the case is politically motivated.

Read more in Kyrgyz here