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Jailed Kyrgyz Opposition Party Leader Faces Additional Charges He Calls Fake

Jenish Moldokmatov
Jenish Moldokmatov

BISHKEK -- Authorities in Kyrgyzstan have added new charges against Jenish Moldokmatov, the jailed leader of the opposition party Turan, which he denies.

Moldokmatov, an outspoken critic of President Sadyr Japarov, was arrested in May and charged with the seizure of buildings during anti-government rallies against the official results of parliamentary elections in October 2020.

His lawyer, Kantemir Turdaliev, told RFE/RL on September 7 that his client has been additionally charged with the attempted seizure of power, the organization of mass disorder, threatening or attacking law enforcement officers, and stealing a firearm.

Turdaliev said Moldokmatov did not sign papers acknowledging the new charges and has refused to cooperate with the investigators.

Moldokmatov already rejected the earlier charges, saying they are politically motivated.

He ran for a parliamentary seat in the October vote and participated along with thousands of other Kyrgyz in street protests that followed the official results.

The rallies eventually led to the resignations of the government and then-President Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

Current President Sadyr Japarov was among several prominent politicians freed from prison by protesters during the postelection unrest.

He had been serving a 10-year prison sentence for hostage taking during a protest against a mining operation in northeast Kyrgyzstan in October 2013. Japarov maintains his conviction was politically motivated.

Japarov easily won the January presidential election.

Despite some reforms, Japarov has been criticized by rights groups for failing to follow through on promises of more freedoms. They say existing Kyrgyz laws on countering extremism have been applied unevenly and that their overly broad definition has allowed for their misuse against political opponents, journalists, and religious and ethnic minorities.

Moldokmatov's arrest on May 6 came three days after Japarov signed into law constitutional amendments approved by a nationwide referendum in April that has been criticized by his opponents as a move to concentrate power.