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New Kyrgyz Opposition Group Challenges Customs Union

BISHKEK -- The founders of Kyrgyzstan's newly established United National Opposition Movement say they plan to outline "an alternative program for the nation's development."

At the movement's inaugural gathering in Bishkek on February 26, the group adopted a resolution supporting the establishment of a parliamentary republic with limited presidential powers.

They also demanded a national referendum on Kyrgyzstan possibly joining a Russia-led Customs Union.

Russia has been trying to attract Bishkek to join the Customs Union, which was launched in 2011 and currently consists of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia.

In December, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev slammed a road map outlining the steps needed for Bishkek to join, saying it did not take Kyrgyz interests into account.

Kyrgyz Economy Minister Temir Sariev told lawmakers on February 26 that it is not clear when Kyrgyzstan might join the union.