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Kyrgyz Opposition Parties Call For Ex-Minister's Release

General Ismail Isakov resigned to join the opposition in 2008.
General Ismail Isakov resigned to join the opposition in 2008.
BISHKEK -- Two Kyrgyz opposition parties have declared their support for calls to release former Defense Minister Ismail Isakov from prison, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Erk (Liberty) party leader Yuruslan Istanov told RFE/RL on February 25 that "people's patience has reached a critical point."

He added that if the government continues to ignore widespread demands from rights activists, former colleagues, and other supporters to free Isakov, the opposition may demand President Kurmanbek Bakiev's resignation.

The Ata-Meken (Fatherland) party also announced that it supports the campaign to have Isakov released.

Hundreds of Isakov's supporters have staged protests and hunger strikes in Bishkek and Isakov's home district of Alai since he was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to eight years in prison on January 11.

Isakov was a close associate of Bakiev and was appointed defense minister shortly after the 2005 Tulip Revolution that brought Bakiev to power. Isakov was named National Security Council secretary in May 2008.

Five months later he resigned and joined the opposition. Isakov and his supporters say the charges against him are politically motivated.