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Kyrgyz Hunger Strike 'To Continue' Until High Court Ruling

BISHKEK -- A Kyrgyz opposition leader says a hunger strike in support of jailed former Kyrgyz Defense Minister Ismail Isakov will continue until the military's high court hears an appeal of the case, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Topchubek Turgunaliev, leader of the hunger strike and head of the United Popular Movement (UPM), told RFE/RL today that the strike, which involves 21 people total in Bishkek and in the southern Osh region's Alay district, which is Isakov's hometown.

It is unclear when the military Supreme Court will review the case.

Anipa Mamatisaeva, Isakov's 85-year-old mother, joined the hunger strike on January 24.

Isakov, a lieutenant general who served as Kyrgyzstan's defense minister from 2005-08, was found guilty by a military court of corruption and sentenced to eight years in jail on January 11.

He was a close associate of Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev and became defense minister shortly after the 2005 Tulip Revolution that brought Bakiev to power.

Isakov was appointed secretary of the National Security Council in May 2008. He left the post in October 2008 and joined Kyrgyzstan's political opposition.

Isakov's supporters and human rights groups say the case against him is in retaliation for his opposition activities.