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Kyrgyz Protesters Storm Government Building

Bishkek, 17 June 2005 (RFE/RL) -- More than 100 Kyrgyz protesters demanding the registration of an opposition candidate in next month's presidential polls have stormed Bishkek's main government building, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported.

Details are sketchy but reports say the crowd is demanding that businessman Urmatbek Baryktabasov be allowed to run in the 10 July presidential election.

There were no reports of clashes and agencies say security forces outside Bishkek's White House took no action against the protesters.

RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports that there are also protests going on in Karakol, the administration center of the eastern region from which Baryktabasov hails.

Authorities had refused to allow Baryktabasov to register as a candidate, arguing that he had become a Kazakh citizen in the 1990s.

Protesters say the decision is politically motivated as the businessman would pose an electoral challenge for acting President Kurmanbek Bakiev.

Violence has been increasing as the election approaches. On 13 June, several people were wounded when a crowd of some 200 stormed a hotel in the Kyrgyz city of Osh, in apparent protest against a lawmaker with a financial interest in the business. On 11 June, unidentified assailants burst into acting Bakiev's campaign headquarters, beating two guards. That incident followed the fatal shooting in Bishkek on 10 June of lawmaker Jyrgalbek Surabaldiev, an ally of ousted President Askar Akaev.


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