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Kyrgyz Official Says Coverage Of Isakov Protests Biased

Protesters gather earlier this month in the Alai district to support opposition leader Ismail Isakov.
OSH, Kyrgyzstan -- The governor of the southern Kyrgyz region of Osh says media coverage of protests in support of jailed former Defense Minister Ismail Isakov is biased and "instigating hysteria," RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Mamasadyk Bakirov denied today media reports that protester demands in Isakov's home district of Alai are supported in other regions.

Bakirov said, "nobody -- neither citizens nor state officials -- have the right to impose their will on the court." He added that those who are unhappy with the court verdict have legal means to challenge it by appealing to higher courts. Bakirov said the organizers of "illegal protest actions" should be prosecuted.

Meanwhile, a hunger strike in support of Ismailov continues in Bishkek and the Alai district, where a total of 13 people are on strike.

On January 24 Anipa Mamatisaeva, Isakov's 85-year-old mother, joined the strike to demand the release of her son.

Isakov, a lieutenant general who served as defense minister from 2005-08 and secretary of the National Security Council in 2008, was found guilty on January 11 of issuing an apartment to someone based on false documents.

Isakov was an ally of President Kurmanbek Bakiev after he came to power following the 2005 Tulip Revolution. Isakov left his post in October 2008 and joined the political opposition.

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