Kyrgyzstan: Former President Atambayev accused of murder, other crimes

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BISHKEK (TCA) — Former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, who surrendered to police last week after a deadly confrontation with security forces during his arrest last week, has been charged with murder and other serious crimes, Zamir Beishekeev, a senior official at the Kyrgyz Prosecutor General’s Office, said on August 13.

Beishekeev said at a press conference in Bishkek that Atambayev is accused of using violence against representatives of the authorities, organizing mass unrest, murder, attempted murder, and taking hostages.

Under the Kyrgyz law, Atambayev may face life imprisonment on these charges.

Speaking at the same press conference in Bishkek, the head of the State Committee of National Security, Orozbek Opumbaev, accused the former president of planning to carry out a coup, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.

Atambayev surrendered to police on August 8 following a deadly two-day standoff with security forces at his residential compound in the village of Koi-Tash near the capital.

The violence underscored a power struggle between Atambayev and his handpicked successor, Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

The resistance put up by the former president and his supporters resulted in the death of one special forces officer and more than 170 others injured, including 79 law enforcement officers, Kyrgyz Interior Minister Kashkar Junushaliev told reporters.

Opumbaev called the death of the officer a “cynical murder.”

The move to detain Atambayev was sparked by his refusal to obey three subpoenas calling him to the Interior Ministry for questioning.

Kyrgyz authorities had said that Atambayev faced five counts of criminally abusing his office when he was Kyrgyzstan’s president from 2011 to 2017 — including corruption, abuse of office, and illegally enriching himself.

The storming of the compound came after Deputy Interior Minister Mirlan Kanimetov and several other officials visited Atambayev on July 22 after he had refused to obey a subpoena for a third time.

Under Kyrgyz law, a person who refuses to comply with two subpoenas can be forcibly detained for questioning.

After parliament on June 27 voted to strip immunity from prosecution for former presidents, Atambayev had spent most of his time at his residential compound and had publicly stated that he had weapons.

Sergey Kwan

TCA