JALAL-ABAD, Kyrgyzstan -- Hundreds of people gathered in southern Kyrgyzstan on June 20 in support of a member of parliament charged with assaulting a fellow deputy, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.
The protesters gathered in front of the building of Jalal-Abad Oblast's Interior Affairs Department demanding charges against Kamchybek Tashiev be dropped,
Interior Affairs Department chief Stanbek Bakirov told RFE/RL that about 1,000 demonstrators are taking part in the protest. Tashiev's supporters set up two yurts
on a square in front of the Interior Affairs Department, saying that the protest will last till Tashiev’s case is closed.
Tashiev, the head of the Ata-Jurt (Homeland) party in parliament, was interrogated by the Prosecutor-General's investigative directorate on June 20 regarding his alleged beating of fellow deputy Bakhadyr Suleimanov.
On June 17, Tashiev surrendered his immunity from prosecution as a member of parliament, saying that he took this action to avoid the need to create a parliamentary commission to strip him of his immunity.
Suleimanov filed a lawsuit against Tashiev on April 1, accusing him of assault and battery. Suleimanov spent several days at the cardiology center in Bishkek after the alleged fight.
Tashiev says he never physically assaulted Suleimanov, but admits they had a heated conversation and verbally insulted each other on April 1. He has not said what they argued about.
Tashiev told RFE/RL on June 15 that hooliganism charges brought against him are an attempt "to prevent my participation in the presidential elections" scheduled for the fall. Many experts and politicians think Tashiev plans to run for president.
Ata-Jurt is a member of Kyrgyzstan's three-party governing coalition.
Read more in Kyrgyz here and here