Kyrgyz opposition leaders arrested

Two leading figures in Kyrgyz opposition arrested after audio recordings allegedly reveal plot to overthrow president by sparking mass riots

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Kyrgyzstan's President Almazbek Atambayev addresses a news conference following a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Chancellery in Berlin, April 1, 2015.

Security services in Kyrgyzstan said on Thursday that they have arrested two members of the opposition on charges of plotting to overthrow the government.

Former politicians Bektur Asanov and Kubanychbek Kadyrov were detained on suspicion of "implementing a conspiracy to seize power by violent means," the Central Asian country's GKNB security service said in a statement.

On Wednesday, the GKNB said that taped conversations that appeared on the internet revealed several Kyrgyz opposition politicians were planning to spark riots across Kyrgyzstan to overthrow Kyrgyzstan's pro-Russian President Almazbek Atambayev.

"For these aims they prepared finances, people and the necessary number of vehicles."

Asanov, a former governor, and Kadyrov, a former lawmaker, could face a maximum of 12 years in jail if convicted of the charges.

The pair are part of a loose opposition coalition that has called for a change in government in the impoverished ex-Soviet country.

According to the GKNB, the audio recordings which link the politicians to the plot are confirmed as authentic “by audio recordings in the possession of the State National Security Committee.”

The committee said it had obtained its own recordings with court approval as part of a criminal investigation. "The investigation continues" it said.

The opposition had planned to host a large anti-government rally this week but cancelled it amid a tense border standoff involving the republic and neighbouring Uzbekistan.

Atambayev was elected president in 2011. Two of Kyrgyzstan’s last four presidents, Askar Akayev and Kurmanbek Bakiyev, were toppled after violent protests in 2005 and 2010 respectively.

Kyrgyzstan, hosts a Russian military base and hosted an American base used in the Afghan conflict until 2014.

China also maintains influence in several Kyrgyz industries, including energy and mining.

However, Kyrgyzstan has suffered from Russia’s recession and the slowdown in China, causing public discontent.

TRTWorld and agencies