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5 Oct, 2020 23:14

Kyrgyzstani protesters free ex-president Atambayev, imprisoned for corruption, as fallout from 'rigged' election leads to chaos

Kyrgyzstani protesters free ex-president Atambayev, imprisoned for corruption, as fallout from 'rigged' election leads to chaos

Former Kyrgyz president Almazbek Atambayev has been set free from the central jail in Bishkek, after protesters, who believe last weekend's election to have been fraudulent, stormed the building as well as the government compound.

He was expected to join the crowd camping out in Bishkek’s Ala-Too Square, calling for the cancellation of the parliamentary election.

Atambayev was released around 4:30am local time on Tuesday by protesters who had taken control of the the jail, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported from the Kyrgyzstani capital. Earlier, his son Kadyr was at the head of the crowd that stormed the White House, the compound that houses the presidential offices and the Kyrgyzstani parliament.

Demonstrators took to the streets of Bishkek on Monday, denouncing the election as fraudulent and accusing President Sooronbay Jeenbekov of vote-buying and intimidation. 

Also on rt.com Protesters aggrieved by ‘rigged’ parliamentary election break into government headquarters in Kyrgyzstani capital Bishkek (VIDEO)

According to official results, only four parties out of 16 in the running had cleared the threshold to enter the country’s parliament. The highest number of votes went to Birimdik (Unity), the party of the president’s younger brother Asylbek.

Jeenbekov came to power in 2017 as Atambayev’s chosen successor, but quickly fell out with his mentor. Atambayev was arrested in August 2019 after a bloody raid on his estate in the village of Koi-Tash resulted in the death of one security officer. He was sentenced a year later to 11 years in prison for corruption, and was in jail pending trial on charges stemming from the raid.

Also on rt.com Kyrgyz special forces storm former-president’s compound: How a sleepy village became a warzone

Kyrgyzstan is a Central Asian state that gained independence in 1991, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Monday’s unrest is the third time since 2005 that protesters have demanded regime change in the streets. Its first president, Askar Akayev, was ousted in the ‘Tulip Revolution’ after almost 15 years in power. His successor Kurmanbek Bakiyev fled the country five years later.

Roza Otunbayeva, Kyrgyzstan’s first female president, took over from Bakiyev in April 2010, but was barred from running in the 2011 election.

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