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Kyrgyz Protest Singer Charged With Illegal Drug Possession Moved To House Arrest

Bolot Nazarov talks to journalists in Bishkek on January 22.
Bolot Nazarov talks to journalists in Bishkek on January 22.

BISHKEK – Noted Kyrgyz traditional bard singer Bolot Nazarov, who was arrested along with well-known investigative journalist Bolot Temirov for the alleged possession of illegal drugs, has been transferred to house arrest amid protests by his supporters.

A court in Bishkek ruled late on January 23 that Nazarov, who performed his anti-corruption songs on the YouTube channel Temirov LIVE, will remain under house arrest while an investigation into the charges is carried out.

Hours earlier, the court ruled that Nazarov's colleague and the founder of the Temirov LIVE channel, Bolot Temirov, who was arrested in the case a day earlier, must be released from custody but barred from leaving Bishkek before his trial is held.

Temirov, who last year was among 12 people recognized by the U.S. State Department as "anti-corruption champions," was arrested and charged with “possessing illegal narcotics” hours after a search was conducted of his office, during which the journalist said security forces planted the drugs.

Security forces launched the investigation against Temirov and Nazarov after a Temirov LIVE broadcast about Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov and the head of Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee for National Security, Kamchybek Tashiev.

The YouTube channel's investigative report looked into the alleged involvement of relatives of Tashiev in the activities of Kyrgyzstan's state oil company.

Tashiev wrote on his Facebook page that the information published about him by Temirov LIVE “was a complete lie."

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee said on Twitter that authorities must investigate claims that the police planted “marihuana” on Temirov.