BISHKEK (TCA) — Police in Kyrgyzstan have used stun grenades to disperse hundreds of protesters at a rally against the detention of a former member of parliament who plans to run for the presidency, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.
Dozens of demonstrators were detained in the March 25 confrontation, which underscored growing political tensions ahead of the presidential election scheduled for November 19 in Kyrgyzstan.
About 500 demonstrators started to gather outside the National Security Service headquarters in Bishkek after authorities detained Sadyr Japarov on March 25 upon his return to Kyrgyzstan from three years of self-imposed exile.
He faces charges of taking a government official hostage in 2013.
According to the National Security Committee, protesters in Karakol in October 2013 forcibly put the Government’s representative to the Issyk-Kul province into a car, thus taking him hostage. The protest was organized by Japarov, the Committee said.
A Reuters photographer said that in the March 25 confrontation, some protesters started scuffling with police and throwing bottles at authorities a few hours into the protest.
Kyrgyzstan’s Interior Ministry said it detained 68 people.
Japarov had been a senior member of the government and an adviser to former President Kurmanbek Bakiev.
After Bakiev was ousted in 2010, Japarov became a member of parliament.
But in 2013, Japarov was sentenced to 18 months in prison on charges of attempting to violently seize power after he and other lawmakers tried to force their way into the presidential palace during a protest.