Kyrgyzstan's former president detained after violent clashes

Kyrgyzstan's former president detained after violent clashes

Previous attempt to arrest Almazbek Atambayev led to fighting between soldiers and his supporters

Police in Kyrgyzstan have detained the former president after violent clashes with his supporters, a day after a previous attempt to arrest him left one police officer dead and nearly 80 people injured.

The violence has raised the threat of fresh turmoil in the former Soviet country, which borders China and hosts a Russian military airbase. There have been two revolutions in Kyrgyzstan since 2005.

Almazbek Atambayev, who was in office from 2011-17, has accused his successor and one-time protege Sooronbai Jeenbekov of fabricating criminal charges against him to stifle criticism. He urged his supporters to demonstrate in the capital, Bishkek, on Thursday to demand Jeenbekov’s resignation.

Footage from Atambayev’s compound on the outskirts of Bishkek showed fighting between soldiers and his supporters on Wednesday evening. At one point, soldiers picked up rocks and threw them at protesters as fires raged. Photographs appeared to show several injured troops captured by Atambayev’s supporters.

State officials said a police officer had died from a gunshot wound and another was in a coma after being hit by a rock. Protesters and police officers sustained bullet wounds in the fighting.

Atambayev faces corruption and illegal enrichment charges relating to his six-year presidential term, which ended in 2017. His supporters say he is being targeted by Jeenbekov in an act of political retribution.

Atambayev supported Jeenbekov during a heated presidential campaign two years ago but the pair later had a public falling out.

Several prime ministers under Atambayev have also been charged with corruption, and in June he was stripped of his presidential immunity, a concession offered to top Kyrgyzstan politicians to encourage a peaceful transition of power. Atambayev, who then retreated to his compound, has defied repeated summons from investigators.

Jeenbekov accused Atambayev of violating the constitution during a hastily convened security council meeting on Thursday. “By putting up fierce armed resistance to the investigative measures undertaken within the framework of the law, Almazbek Atambayev gravely trampled upon the constitution and laws of the Kyrgyzstan,” the president said, according to Interfax news agency.

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