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Anti-OSCE Police Protests Held In Kyrgyz Cities

Demonstrators protesting the deployment of a temporary OSCE police force in southern Kyrgyzstan on July 26.
Demonstrators protesting the deployment of a temporary OSCE police force in southern Kyrgyzstan on July 26.
BISHKEK -- Demonstrations against the deployment of an international police force to Kyrgyzstan's southern regions have been held in several Kyrgyz cities, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Mavlyan Askarbekov, a coordinator of the protests, told RFE/RL that the gatherings were organized by youth organizations.

In Bishkek, some 200 demonstrators gathered on a main square and burned an international policeman in effigy. The protesters chanted: "Foreign countries have nothing to do with our internal affairs!" and "We are against turning Kyrgyzstan into a second Yugoslavia or Georgia!"

Similar demonstrations were held in several other cities, including the southern city of Osh and the northern town of Talas.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) plans to send 52 policemen to the southern regions of Osh and Jalal-Abad next week. Deadly clashes in those regions last month between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz left at least 355 dead and forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.

The OSCE police contingent will be unarmed and will stay in Kyrgyzstan for just four months.

Meanwhile, an assembly that represents the country's ethnic groups said it supported the OSCE's plans, which have also been formally approved by Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva.

Assembly of Kyrgyzstan's Peoples leader Svetlana Pak said today that all concerns about the country being partitioned following the deployment of international police were baseless.

She said the presence of the international police force would help restore the trust of people living in the south with Kyrgyz security forces and the local government.

Human rights groups and international agencies have reported widespread reprisals against ethnic Uzbeks by Kyrgyz security forces in the Osh region, including illegal detentions, beatings, and kidnappings for ransom.

Pak added that the international police activities would also help objectively investigate the causes of last month's unrest.