Kyrgyzstan: As Hot Political Season Looms, Opposition Leader is Jailed for 8 Years
Only weeks before Kyrgyzstan is set to hold potentially decisive presidential elections, a court on August 16 sentenced a leading opposition politician to eight years in jail on charges that government critics have described as flimsy.
Large contingents of police were dispatched to guard the Pervomaisky district court ahead of the final verdict against Ata-Meken party leader Omurbek Tekebayev, who was found guilty of corruption.
Prosecutors claimed that while serving as deputy prime minister in the interim government that took power following the April 2010 revolution, Tekebayev demanded $1 million from Russian businessman Leonid Mayevsky in exchange for including him on the board of directors of Alfa Telecom, a company that had been partially nationalized by the incoming leadership.
Crowds of Tekebayev supporters also assembled at the court throughout the day, raising concerns of possible unrest, but the mood was peaceful even after the late-night verdict was delivered by the judge, Aibek Ernis uulu. In the courtroom, a group of people reacted to the verdict with cries of “shame, shame!”
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