BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan’s former President Almazbek Atambayev has held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. The Kremlin’s website posted a video statement by Putin on July 25, in which the Russian president said that he and Atambayev met a day earlier to discuss the situation in Kyrgyzstan and the Central Asian region as a whole.
“Kyrgyzstan has faced pretty serious internal political upheavals already, to be precise, at least two, and I think one must stop at that [number],” Putin said in reference to violent antigovernment protests that toppled Kyrgyz presidents in 2005 and 2010.
“The country needs political stability and all [Kyrgyz] people must unite around the incumbent president to help him to develop the country. We have many cooperation plans with Kyrgyzstan and we certainly intend to implement all those plans along with the current authorities,” Putin added.
Putin’s statement comes amid an ongoing open stand-off between Atambayev and his successor Sooronbai Jeenbekov, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service reported.
Several associates of Atambayev have been arrested on corruption charges, and Atambayev himself faces five counts of criminal misconduct while in office from 2011 to 2017 — including corruption, abuse of office, and illegally enriching himself.
Atambayev has rejected all of the charges saying they are politically motivated. He refused to obey Interior Ministry subpoenas in an unspecified criminal investigation three times in July.
Under Kyrgyz law, a person who refuses to comply with two subpoenas can be forcibly detained for questioning. But authorities in Bishkek have so far not attempted to carry out such a move against the former president.
Atambayev’s lawyer, Sergei Slesarev, has claimed a June 27 parliamentary vote that stripped Atambayev of his immunity from prosecution was illegal.
Kyrgyz lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to remove Atambayev’s immunity in a move that cleared the way for his prosecution.
After his meeting with Putin in Moscow, Atambayev made a statement saying that it was a good opportunity to exchange views, 24.kg news agency reported.
“The Russian Federation reaffirmed that it is a friend and strategic partner of the Kyrgyz Republic, but we will solve our internal problems in the republic by ourselves. We talked about the situation in Kyrgyzstan and the region, about the need for political stability in the country, that both parties of the conflict should make efforts for this. And we also believe that this is a two-way road. The current government needs to return to the legal field,” said Atambayev.
He added that the current Kyrgyz authorities should stop political persecution of their opponents.
“My supporters should have an opportunity to calmly prepare for the [2020 parliamentary] elections. Vladimir Putin plans to talk about it with Sooronbai Jeenbekov. As soon as we see such steps on the part of Jeenbekov, the opposition’s agenda will immediately change,” the former president said.