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Arrested Kyrgyz Opposition Party Leader Moldokmatov Starts Hunger Strike

Jenish Moldokmatov (file photo)
Jenish Moldokmatov (file photo)

BISHKEK -- The jailed leader of Kyrgyzstan's opposition Turan party, Jenish Moldokmatov, has started a hunger strike to protest his incarceration.

Moldokmatov's aide, Erlan Bekchoro, told RFE/RL that Moldokmatov started his hunger strike on July 26 after he was informed about an additional charge against him of organizing mass disorder.

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

Moldokmatov has rejected the charge, calling it politically motivated.

Moldokmatov was one of the candidates to the Kyrgyz parliament in October who, according to official results, lost the election.

He took part with thousands of others in the mass protests following the election in Bishkek. The rallies led to the resignations of the government and then-President Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

Japarov was among several prominent politicians freed from prison by protesters during the 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. He maintains the charges against him were politically motivated.

Japarov easily won the January presidential election.

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 more powers in his hands.