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Kyrgyz Police Reject Allegations Of Voter Intimidation Ahead Of Presidential Poll

The Kara-Suu market in the city of Osh
The Kara-Suu market in the city of Osh

OSH, Kyrgyzstan -- Police in Kyrgyzstan's southern region of Osh have rejected allegations of voter intimidation in the Kara-Suu district, saying that claims about young men visiting local homes and threatening residents with violence if they did not vote for Sadyr Japarov were "lies."

In its January 5 statement, the Osh regional police department said that such allegations were wrong, adding that it started a preliminary investigation to find out who stands behind "the false complaints."

According to the statement, the Jalpy Ish (Common Case) NGO on January 2 informed police in Osh about complaints by some residents of the Kirov village, who said young men had gone house to house telling people to vote for Japarov on January 10, threatening them with violence if they didn’t.

The police department says the situation was checked on January 3 and it was concluded that the Jalpy Ish group's concerns were baseless, adding that no facts of voter intimidation had been revealed.

Kyrgyzstan's Central Election Commission (BShK) said on January 4 it had launched a probe into Jalpy Ish's claim and informed the Central Asian nation's Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor-General’s Office about the incident. There's been no comment from Japarov.

Meanwhile, Jalpy Ish's spokesman Arslanbek Omurzakov told reporters in Bishkek on January 5 that between October 24 and December 28, his group registered 53 violations of election-campaign regulations, including attempts to buy votes, voter intimidation, and use of administrative resources.

The early presidential election was called following a political crisis triggered by mass protests in early October over the outcome of parliamentary elections that led to the resignation of the government and prompted President Sooronbai Jeenbekov to step down.

Japarov, who during the October turmoil was released from prison where he was serving a sentence for kidnapping a political rival, was elected prime minister by lawmakers and took over presidential powers following Jeenbekov's resignation.

In mid-November, Japarov suspended his duties of acting president and prime minister to become eligible to seek the presidency as Kyrgyz law does not allow anyone serving as president in an interim capacity to run in an election for the post.

Seventeen candidates have been registered to run in the January 10 poll.