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Kyrgyz Government Orders End To Opposition Rally

Opposition demonstrators in Bishkek on April 19 (RFE/RL) BISHKEK, April 19, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The Kyrgyz government has banned any continuation of opposition rallies after clashes broke out between police and demonstrators last night in Bishkek, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported.

Opposition activists have been protesting since April 11, calling for the resignation of the Kyrgyz president and implementation of constitutional reforms.

Early this morning, Kyrgyz security forces raided the office of the opposition Ar-Namys party and the United Front for a Worthy Future for Kyrgyzstan, both led by former Prime Minister Feliks Kulov.

Under the orders of Prosecutor-General Elmurza Satybaldiev, security forces seized today's editions of two independent newspapers -- "Kyrgyz ruhu" and "Agym." The website of the independent news agency has also been blocked.

Satybaldiev also ordered a criminal investigation against some opposition leaders, including Kulov, on charges of causing "mass disorder."

At least 34 demonstrators were detained last night after students threw stones and bottles at police guarding the government building. Six people were reportedly hospitalized.

Police reportedly fired tear gas at the protesters after stones were thrown at the building. The crowd later joined thousands of opposition supporters in nearby Alatoo Square to demand an early presidential election and constitutional reforms.

Opposition lawmaker Kubatbek Baibolov told the crowd to refrain from violence.

"There are provocateurs among you who call for attacking the White House [the Kyrgyz government building]," Baibolov said. "Our aim is different. Please stay calm here, stay calm. Our strength is patience. Keep the patience."

Police later dispersed most the protesters from the square and chased remaining groups in surrounding streets.

The presidential press service released a statement blaming opposition leaders for the disturbances, which it described as "holliganism."

Turmoil In Kyrgyzstan

Turmoil In Kyrgyzstan

Opposition protests in Bishkek on April 11 (TASS)

TAKING TO THE STREETS. Edil Baisalov, president of the largest grassroots network in Kyrgyzstan, discussed the political turmoil in Kyrgyzstan at an RFE/RL briefing in Washington. He addressed the question of whether the unrest is a healthy democratic process or a bid to derail the country's fragile democratic transition.


Listen to the entire briefing (about 70 minutes):
Real Audio Windows Media


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RFE/RL's coverage of Kyrgyzstan. The Kyrgyz-language website of RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service.


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