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Kyrgyz Ex-Lawmaker Detained, Accused Of Trying To Seize Power

Kanybek Osmonaliev has been detained on suspicion of attempting to seize power, but not yet charged. (file photo)
Kanybek Osmonaliev has been detained on suspicion of attempting to seize power, but not yet charged. (file photo)

BISHKEK -- Former lawmaker Kanybek Osmonaliev, one of the organizers of a March 2 mass rally in Bishkek that turned violent, has been detained by the State Committee for National Security (UKMK) on suspicion of attempting to seize power.

The UKMK said on March 3 that Osmonaliev and a second, unidentified person were placed in pretrial detention, but have yet to be officially charged.

The Interior Ministry said the same day that police had detained 166 people during clashes with protesters at the rally in Bishkek's central Ala-Too square, four of whom remain in custody while their roles in organizing the violent rally are investigated.

It was not clear if Osmonaliev and the person detained by the UKMK were among the four still detained by the police.

According to the ministry, 24 police officers were injured in the clashes with hundreds of demonstrators demanding the immediate release from prison of Kyrgyz politician Sadyr Japarov.

The Health Ministry said on March 3 that one police officer was hospitalized with a concussion and a strained neck.

The clashes broke out after police started dispersing the rally, as it had run past the 5 p.m. limit granted in the demonstration permit.

Police fired tear gas and used water cannons to drive hundreds of protesters out of the square, where they were also demanding that the government resign and calling for constitutional amendments.

The demonstrators responded by hurling rocks at security forces, damaging cars and businesses in the area.

Former lawmaker Japarov was sentenced to 11 1/2 years in prison after a court in Bishkek convicted him of taking a government official hostage during 2013 protests around the Kumtor gold mine by demonstrators demanding that the mine be nationalized.

Japarov has rejected the charges as politically motivated.

In April 2019, the Supreme Court cut Japarov's sentence by 18 months.

In November 2019, Japarov officially asked President Sooronbai Jeenbekov for clemency. He is still waiting for an answer to his request.

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