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Kyrgyz Protesters Block Highway

Supporters of former parliament speaker Akmatbek Keldibekov block the international highway to China.
OSH, Kyrgyzstan -- Hundreds of vehicles are stuck on a major highway in Kyrgyzstan's southern Osh region as supporters of arrested former parliament speaker demand his release.

Akmatbek Keldibekov was arrested last week amid an investigation into alleged abuse of office and financial misdeeds while running the State Social Fund and Tax Service several years ago.

Keldibekov's supporters have set up three yurts on the Osh-Erkechtam highway connecting Kyrgyzstan with China. The reported number of protesters on the highway varies from dozens to hundreds.

Keldibekov, a member of the opposition Ata-Jurt (Fatherland) party, served as parliament speaker between 2010 and 2011. Hundreds of people rallied in Bishkek and in Osh region last week to demand his immediate release.

The leader of Ata-Jurt, Kamchybek Tashiev, described Keldibekov’s arrest as "political oppression."