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Kyrgyz Ex-President's Supporters Protest As Possible Arrest Pending


Supporters Of Kyrgyz Ex-President Atambaev Call For Charges To Be Dropped
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WATCH: Supporters Of Kyrgyz Ex-President Atambaev Call For Charges To Be Dropped

BISHKEK -- Some 1,000 supporters of Almazbek Atambaev have gathered in the Kyrgyz capital, demanding the charges against the former president be dropped.

Atambaev, who faces arrest and prosecution on charges of corruption, attended the July 3 rally in central Bishkek.

He and four lawmakers representing the Social Democratic Party, of which he is a member, were sitting on chairs as protesters gathered behind them with posters calling on President Sooronbai Jeenbekov to resign.

The demonstrators demanded what they called the "old elite" to step down and give way to "young leaders, whom Atambaev is capable to bring."

Government officials did not comment on the rally. Some police officers were present at the site of the protest.

Former Bishkek Mayor Nariman Tuleev said earlier that "thousands" of critics of Atambaev would march toward the ex-president's residence in the Koi-Tash settlement near the capital on July 3 to urge him "to stop splitting the nation," but that march never took place.

On June 27, Kyrgyz lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to lift Atambaev's immunity, clearing the way for his prosecution.

Atambaev faces five counts of misconduct while being in office in 2011-17, including corruption, abuse of office, and illegal enrichment.

He has rejected all accusations leveled against him.

The U.S. Embassy in Bishkek issued a security alert on July 3 calling on Americans to stay away from the site of the planned rally in central Bishkek and to "avoid large crowds, gatherings, and demonstrations."