Kyrgyzstan opposition cancels mass protest in country’s south

OSH, Kyrgyzstan (TCA) — The opposition in Kyrgyzstan has canceled an anti-government protest scheduled for March 24 in the southern city of Osh.

Opposition activists told RFE/RL on March 23 that the decision was made due to the ongoing escalation of tensions along the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.

The decision to cancel the protest also came as Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee for National Security announced that forensic studies revealed that two audio recordings apparently featuring the voices of several opposition politicians discussing ways to seize power in Kyrgyzstan had been found “authentic”.

The audio recordings circulated on the Internet on March 21-22.

One of the politicians apparently involved, Bektur Asanov, confirmed to RFE/RL that such a discussion had taken place, but said the talks touched upon legal ways to hand over power to another government.

Asanov called the audio recordings’ appearance on the Internet as “an attempt to blackmail the opposition.”

Some 3,000 police officers have been deployed in Kyrgyzstan’s southern city of Osh days before local elections and the planned opposition protest.

The Osh regional police department’s spokesman, Jenish Ashyrbaev, told RFE/RL that some 2,000 volunteers had joined the police officers in Osh’s central square on March 22.

According to Ashyrbaev, the police and volunteer deployment in the city center is “a planned event to exercise safety on the eve of local elections” scheduled for March 27.


Times of Central Asia