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Prosecutor Wants Kyrgyz Politician Jailed For 18 Years

Kyrgyz opposition leader Urmat Baryktobasov, whom a prosecutor wants to jail for "illegally attempting to seize power."
BISHKEK -- The prosecutor at the trial of a Kyrgyz opposition leader accused of trying to overthrow the government has asked for him to be sentenced to up to 18 years in jail, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Urmat Baryktabasov, the head of the nationalist Meken Tuu (Flag of the Fatherland) party, and 14 of his associates and supporters are being tried in Bishkek's Birinchi Mai District court on charges of illegally attempting to seize power.

The prosecutor asked for between 12-18 years in jail for the other defendants.

Baryktabasov and his codefendants were arrested in August after he led a protest march to the capital city to voice a number of demands, including that he be named prime minister.

Investigators say Baryktabasov and his associates were illegally carrying weapons when they were arrested.

After Baryktabasov was arrested, some 2,000 of his supporters organized a demonstration in Bishkek's central square to demand that President Roza Otunbaeva appoint him prime minister.

Baryktabasov tried to register as a presidential candidate in 2005, but the Central Election Commission refused to register him, saying he was a Kazakh citizen.

Baryktabasov was earlier charged in absentia with trying to seize power in June 2005. He went into hiding and did not resurface until last year.

Baryktabasov denies any wrongdoing and says his arrest is politically motivated.

Read more in Kyrgyz here