A Military Court's conviction of leading opposition politician Felix Kulov is part of a drive by President Askar Akayev to consolidate power, as the administration attempts to improve its ability to confront Islamic radicalism.
Kulov, the former vice president and head of the Ar-Namys Party, received a seven-year prison term on January 22, after being retried on abuse-of-power and corruption charges. Kulov was originally acquitted of the charges in August. [For additional information see the Eurasia Insight archives]. The European Union and the United States, along with various human rights organizations, have denounced the Kulov verdict. However, President Askar Akayev's administration appears unmoved by the international outcry.
Local observers and politicians say that the Kulov sentence reflects the growing trend in Kyrgyzstan towards an authoritarian governing style on the part of Akayev. The Kyrgyz Prosecutor General's office vigorously denied in a January 26 statement that Kulov's trial had been politically motivated.
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Alisher Khamidov is the director of the Osh Media Resource Center in Osh, Kyrgyzstan.