Kyrgyzstan president cancels visit to Russia for CIS summit amid tensions with Kazakhstan

BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambayev has canceled his trip to Russia for a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) summit this week, citing what he said were fears of violent unrest during Kyrgyzstan’s October 15 presidential election, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reports.

Atambayev’s press service said on October 9 that the Kyrgyz delegation to the CIS summit in Sochi will be led by Prime Minister Sapar Isakov, as Atambayev had chosen to remain in Bishkek.

“Considering the evidence that…certain politicians are planning mass riots on election day, involving criminal elements, and also the financial support of these candidates from abroad, the president has decided to cancel his working visit in order to personally ensure order and security in the country,” Atambayev’s office said.

The announcement comes two days after Atambayev publicly accused neighboring Kazakhstan of meddling in the presidential campaign and of openly supporting one of the candidates, Omurbek Babanov. In the same remarks, Atambayev criticized long-ruling Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev for holding power for decades.

Nazarbayev is expected to attend the summit of the CIS, a loose grouping of 10 former Soviet republics.

Atambayev is constitutionally barred from seeking a second term.

He has faced criticism from opponents for openly backing the candidate from the ruling Social Democratic Party, his former Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

In September, Kyrgyzstan’s State Committee for National Security arrested a lawmaker who backs Babanov — who is also a former prime minister — and accused him of plotting riots and a violent coup.

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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