BISHKEK -- An organizer of rallies protesting Kyrgyzstan's proposed constitutional amendments has been detained for allegedly calling on people to seize power before the changes become law.
Bishkek police said on March 16 that Tilekmat Kudaibergenov (aka Kurenov) had been detained a day earlier and remains in police custody.
The former leader of the Zamandash political party, Jenis Moldokmatov, said on March 16 that before detaining Kudaibergenov, police searched his home and the office of the Against KHANstitution movement that opposes the constitutional amendments initiated by President Sadyr Japarov.
Kudaibergenov was one of the organizers of a March 9 rally in Bishkek against the amendments that are expected to be approved in a nationwide referendum on April 11.
Critics say Japarov wants to consolidate power in his hands through the amendments, which envision a dramatic increase in presidential powers.
On the same day Kudaibergenov was detained, Japarov defended the controversial amendments in an interview with RFE/RL, vowing that "Kyrgyzstan will remain a democratic country, without any types of political persecution."
Kudaibergenov is a noted activist and also known as a founder and leader of a movement against granting concessions for the Jetim-Too iron-ore field near the Chinese border to foreign investors.