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Kyrgyzstan: Showdown Deepens Between Government and Opposition

Demonstrators gathered on Bishkek’s Ala-Too Square on February 27 to protest the detention of Omurbek Tekebayev, the leader of the opposition Ata-Meken party and President Almazbek Atambayev’s most dogged and vocal opponent. Tekebayev was arrested the previous day, reportedly on corruption-related criminal charges that critics call politically motivated. (Photo: Danil Usmanov)

The crowd that gathered on Bishkek’s Ala-Too Square on February 27 was modest, belying the gravity of the latest political crisis gripping Kyrgyzstan.
 
Some of the demonstrators waved the red flag of the opposition Ata-Meken party, led by Omurbek Tekebayev, who was detained by state security agents as he flew into the country over the weekend. It appears Tekebayev will face corruption-related criminal charges.
 
The choice of location for the rally — the launch pad for two popular uprisings that toppled two presidents, Askar Akayev in 2005 and Kurmanbek Bakiyev in 2010 — was pointed and symbolic. Later in the day, the crowd marched round the block and relocated for a short while in front of the old parliament building, a structure that stands in the shadow of a statue of Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin.
 
Recent events have been pointing inexorably to the arrest of President Almazbek Atambayev’s most dogged and vocal opponent, although the suddenness of it, occurring in the very early hours of February 26, appears to have taken many by surprise.
 

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Kyrgyzstan: Showdown Deepens Between Government and Opposition

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