In a sign of the growing political chill descending over Kyrgyzstan, authorities there have barred celebrated Russian rights activist Vitaliy Ponomarev from entering the country.
The door was shut in Ponomarev’s face in what is now becoming a standard farcical manner.
The activist, head of the Central Asia program at Moscow-based Memorial, had been in Kyrgyzstan for a roundtable on extremism and terrorism but crossed the border on July 5 on business in neighboring Kazakhstan. When he returned, however, he was informed he had been declared a persona non grata.
Because of the summary nature of the decision, Ponomarev was unable to even collect his possessions from where he had left them in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek.
It is not immediately clear what precipitated the hastily implemented ban, although Ponomarev speculates that it might have been sparked by criticism of Kyrgyz law enforcers voiced during the roundtable he attended.
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