Kyrgyzstan: Former president under siege in his compound near Bishkek

BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan’s former President Almazbek Atambayev on August 8 said he and his supporters will head to the Media Forum building in Bishkek, which he owns and which houses his Aprel TV company, from where he will lead the group to the government building for a rally. However, the planned rally has been cancelled, Akipress news agency reported with reference to Atambayev’s supporters. At about 4.20 pm Atambayev’s supporters started moving from his residential compound in Koi-Tash village to Bishkek but were forced back by police who used stun grenades.

Before the failed march to the planned rally, six members of the special forces being held hostage by supporters of Atambayev after a failed attempt to detain him had been released, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.

RFE/RL correspondents at Atambayev’s residential compound on the outskirts of the capital on August 8 said that they saw the transfer of the hostages, who were given to police officials at the site.

All six were taken away from the area in the same vehicle, they added.

Tensions remained high on August 8, a day after elite security forces failed to arrest the 62-year-old Atambayev, who faces 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.

Atambayev, who rejects the charges, remains at his residential compound on the outskirts of Bishkek, where his supporters blocked police from detaining the former president.

Speaking at the extraordinary session of the National Security Council on August 8, Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov said Atambayev carries full responsibility for the deadly violence.

“Almazbek Atambayev has completely ignored the constitution and laws of the Kyrgyz Republic and obstructed the legal implementation of investigations with the use of arms,” Jeenbekov said, ordering the council “to undertake all necessary measures to establish peace and security in the country as soon as possible.”

Late on August 7, authorities moved in on the former president’s compound to carry out a subpoena in an unspecified investigation but were met with armed resistance by Atambayev’s supporters.

He called the attempt to arrest him unconstitutional and illegal and told reporters at the compound on August 8 that it is Jeenbekov and his government who carry responsibility for the violence because of how they conducted the raid.

“Yesterday they did not say they came to take me for questioning, they came like gangsters and started shooting at people. For one or two months I have been saying that I will use arms to protect myself if somebody dares to trespass upon my home. I have a pistol that I received as a gift and a rifle,” Atambayev said, adding that his supporters did not have any firearms.

Apart from the special-forces member who died of his wounds, the Health Ministry said 52 people were wounded in the clash, including at least 15 police officers.

“The number of those who sought medical help is 52, and 20 of them were hospitalized. Eleven more people are being treated in special forces’ medical facilities,” a ministry representative said on August 8.

Chui regional police Chief Samat Kurmankulov was among the injured. Doctors performed brain surgery on Kurmankulov and he is in critical condition, the Health Ministry said, after being hit by a rock thrown at him.

The storming of the compound comes after Deputy Interior Minister Mirlan Kanimetov and several other officials visited Atambaev 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, the embattled Atambayev has spent most of his time at his residential compound and has publicly stated that he has weapons.

His lawyer has called the immunity vote unconstitutional.

Sergey Kwan


Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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