Kyrgyzstan opposition politicians get lengthy prison terms for planning a ‘coup’

BISHKEK (TCA) — A court in Kyrgyzstan has sentenced five leaders and activists of the People’s Parliament opposition movement to lengthy prison terms on charges of planning a coup in the spring of 2016.

On August 2, former Agriculture Minister Bekbolot Talgarbekov and one-time presidential candidate Torobai Kolubayev were sentenced to 14 years in jail each. Ex-Finance Minister Marat Sultanov was sentenced to 10 years in jail. Other would-be co-conspirators Toigonbek Kalmatov and Alexander Gusev got five- and six-year suspended jail terms, respectively.

Investigators said the five men planned to seize power during a rally slated to be held in Bishkek in May 2016 but which did not take place.

Some of the People’s Parliament members were detained before the planned rally while others were arrested in the following months, RFE/RL reported.

The group had demanded the resignation of President Almazbek Atambayev, claiming they had the support of Russia.

The trial for all these political activists was held behind closed doors, meaning no activists or independent observers could be present. The bulk of the prosecution’s case hinged on a series of wiretapped conversations that were posted on YouTube without explanation in March 2016. Some of the accused insisted their remarks had been taken out of the context, others said that sections of the recordings had been doctored, Eurasianet.org reported.

“There was no real evidence of preparations for a [planned] seizure of power. The main thing we see is that the decision of the court was an order from the [Kyrgyz] White House,” Eurasianet.org quoted Adil Turdukulov, the head of the Bishkek-based Committee for Freedom of Speech, as saying.

Sergey Kwan

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.
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Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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