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Police Break Up Opposition Rally In Bishkek

Hundreds rallied in Osh to call for the release of former parliament speaker Akmatbek Keldibekov from prison.
Police in Kyrgyzstan have released opposition activists who had been detained during a rally in the capital, Bishkek.

Hundreds of activists gathered in the city's Gorky Park on April 10 for a protest organized by the National Opposition Movement uniting several opposition groups.

The deputy chief of Bishkek city police, Melis Turganbaev, and Kyrgyzstan's ombudsman, Bakyt Amanbaev, told RFE/RL that some 200 activists had been detained because they gathered outside the park, where the city authorities had allowed the two-hour gathering to be held.

All of them were released hours later.

The Bishkek protesters called on President Almazbek Atambaev to revise plans to allow Russian companies to take over the transit center at Manas airport after NATO troops withdraw from Afghanistan later this year.

The opposition held similar protest rallies in several other towns and cities across Kyrgyzstan.

They are demanding that presidential powers be limited, that deals on Kyrgyzstan's joining a Russia-led customs union be revised, that a jailed former parliament speaker be freed, and that a major gold mine be nationalized.

In the southern city of Osh, hundreds rallied to call for the release of former parliament speaker Akmatbek Keldibekov from prison.

In another southern city, Jalal-Abad, opposition activists called on the government to withdraw its agreements to join a Russia-led customs union and to hold a national referendum on the issue.

In the northern city of Karakol, police detained several opposition activists who were holding public protest against the government.