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Protesters Occupy Kyrgyz Administrative Building

Bishkek, 23 February 2005 (RFE/RL)-- Supporters of an opposition candidate occupied a district administration office in Kyrgyzstan's northeastern Issyk-Kul Province today, demanding that authorities allow the politician to run in the country's parliamentary elections on 27 February.

Also today, the International Helsinki Federation (IHF) accused Kyrgyz authorities of violating their OSCE commitments by interfering with the democratic process in the run-up to the February elections.

The protesting occupants of the local administrative building are some of several thousand people participating in demonstrations in the Tong district of Issyk-Kul Province.

A protester told RFE/RL that demonstrators also want the head of the local administration to be sacked.

"Our demand is to restore the candidacy of deputy [Arslan] Maliev and to remove the head of the district administration [Nurbek Aliev, a brother of the pro-government candidate] from his position," the protester said.

Meanwhile, protesters continued to block roads in several parts of Kyrgyzstan, demanding opposition candidates recently barred from competing in the elections be put back on ballots.

Protesters in the village of Kochkor are blocking the Bishkek-Torugart highway in eastern Naryn Province.

Demonstrators in Kochkor also say they want to see the resignation of the province's governor, whom they accuse of interfering in the election process.

Hundreds of voters also marched through the center of the town of Jalalabat, the administrative center of the Jalalabat region in southern Kyrgyzstan, calling for free and fair elections.

They also demanded the resignations of President Akaev and the chairman of the Central Electoral Commission, Sulaiman Imanbaev. They called for an end to the persecution of independent newspapers.

Media Cutoff

Meanwhile, a printing house that prints opposition publications today had its power supply cut off for a second day in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek.

Andrei Miyasarov, director of the International Printing Office, said that power was suspended on 22 February.

Miyasarov said that officials from the State Energy Agency are refusing to sign necessary documents, without which the power supply to the office cannot be resumed.

Miyasarov said the problem has been brought to the attention of the office of Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev.

The printing house produces some 15 publications, including some by the main opposition political parties as well as international nongovernmental organizations operating in Kyrgyzstan.

International Outrage

The IHF released a statement saying that "the government of President Askar Akaev appears to be betraying its responsibilities as a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe [OSCE] to ensure free and fair elections."

The IHF said it is also "deeply disturbed" by pressures against what it says are the few remaining independent media in Kyrgyzstan.

The statement calls on the Kyrgyz government to abide by its OSCE commitments.

(with additional reporting by AKIpress, ITAR-TASS, and Interfax)

[For news, background, and analysis on Kyrgyzstan's 27 February parliamentary elections, see RFE/RL's webpage "Kyrgyzstan Votes 2005".]

Also see:

"Kyrgyzstan: Opposition Prepares For Parliamentary Elections (Part 1)"
"Kyrgyzstan: Youth Groups Show Renewed Interest In Politics (Part 2)"
" Kyrgyzstan: Would Reformist Gains Spark Change In Other Central Asian States? (Part 3)"