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Dozens Detained As Police Disperse Protest In Support Of Jailed Kyrgyz Politician Japarov


Kyrgyz Police Disperse Protesters With Water Canon
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BISHKEK -- Police and protesters have clashed at a rally by supporters of jailed Kyrgyz politician Sadyr Japarov as they demanded his release.

An RFE/RL correspondent at the rally on March 2 said police fired tear gas and used water cannon to drive away hundreds of people gathered in Bishkek's Ala-Too square, where they were also demanding that the government resign and calling for constitutional amendments.

The demonstrators responded by hurling rocks at security forces, damaging cars and businesses in the area.

The Interior Ministry said more than 30 people had been detained.

Mukar Cholponbaev, the former parliamentary speaker, said at the rally that the constitution "must be amended to liquidate a number of problems in the country." He did not specify what exactly he and other protesters wanted to change in the constitution.

Interior Ministry spokesman Bakyt Seitov told reporters that the rally was dispersed because it had run past the 5 p.m. local time limit granted in the demonstration permit.

Former lawmaker Sadyr Japarov was sentenced to 11 1/2 years in prison after a court in Bishkek convicted him of taking a government official hostage during 2013 protests around the Kumtor Gold Mine by demonstrators demanding that the mine be nationalized.

Japarov has rejected the charges saying they were politically motivated.

In April 2019, the Supreme Court cut Japarov's sentence by 18 months.

In November 2019, Japarov officially asked President Sooronbai Jeenbekov for clemency. He is still waiting for an answer to his request.