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Dozens Picket Kyrgyz Parliament, Demand Release Of Opposition Leaders

  • RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service

Protesters outside the national legislature in Bishkek on November 12 insist on the immediate release of the detained men.
BISHKEK -- Dozens of activists, including many elderly men, have picketed outside Kyrgyzstan's parliament in Bishkek to continue pressure since authorities detained three opposition leaders after violence marred a protest.

The protesters at the November 12 picket were demanding the immediate release of three opposition members of parliament -- Kamchybek Tashiev, Sadyr Japarov, and Talant Mamytov -- all of whom are leaders of the opposition Ata-Jurt (Homeland) party.

They have been charged with provoking public unrest in connection with an October 3 demonstration in the capital to demand the nationalization of the largest gold-mining operation in Kyrgyzstan, the Kumtor mine, which is owned by a Canada-based company. That gathering was attended by about 1,000 demonstrators.

In addition to freedom for the detained men, the picketers, who call themselves the National Patriotic Movement, told RFE/RL that they also demand the dismissal of the parliament, the holding of early parliamentary election, the nationalization of all industrial facilities and mines in the country, and the adoption of a new Kyrgyz constitution.

The elderly protesters performed an Islamic prayer near the parliament to support the detained men.

On October 5, the trio's preliminary arrest was extended to two months.