Ex-Kyrgyzstan president charged with murder
Former Kyrgyzstan president Almazbek Atambayev has been charged with the murder of a police officer after two raids on his house.
Supporters of Atambayev kept six police officers hostage during a raid that left more than 100 people wounded before the former head of state surrendered last Thursday. He also faces accusations of bribery, corruption during the modernisation of the Bishkek Thermal Power Station, the illegal acquisition of his headquarters, organising riots, attempted murder, taking hostages and using violence against government employees.
Prosecutors reportedly also charged Atambayev with the seizure of hostages and causing mass disorder.
Orozbek Opumbayev, the national security chief, said Atambayev, who served as president from 2011 until 2017, was planning a coup, the news outlet report.
The Central Asian state, which has seen two revolutions in less than 20 years, stripped Atambayev of his prosecution immunity in June.
Atambayev surrendered last Thursday when police raided his home over a corruption case, amid a power struggle with his successor, Sooronbai Jeenbekov.
Atambayev’s supporters blocked a similar raid the previous day in which a deputy commander of a special forces unit was killed.
Atambayev says the criminal investigations against him are politically motivated and illegal.
The prevalence of corruption in Kyrgyzstan means that major cases prosecuted in the courts are generally the selective persecution of political opponents, not the impartial application of the rule of law.
National security chief Opumbayev said the former president had been seeking bloodshed. “Then, blaming it on the authorities, he would have been able to stage a coup,” Opumbayev purportedly said.
He said the ex-president shot at officers with his sniper rifle.
Atambayev said last week he had fired several shots but most were directed into the air as a warning.
The 62-year-old Atambayev originally backed his former ally Jeenbekov in his presidential bid, hoping to retain influence.
Jeenbekov and Atambayev were once friends, and the former leader’s backing during the 2017 election triggered accusations that state resources were used to sway the vote.
But Jeenbekov removed Atambayev’s allies from his cabinet last year and then launched several criminal probes into Atambayev and his close associates.
Toward the end of his presidential term, Atambayev’s administration grew more repressive of the media and opponents.
Kyrgyzstan has close ties to Russia and hosts a Russian military airbase.
Hundreds of thousands of Kyrgyz work in Russia as migrant labourers.
Atambayev met Russian President Vladimir Putin last month but Putin later endorsed Jeenbekov in a statement.
He said he met both Jeenbekov and Atambayev in Moscow in a bid to defuse the confrontation.
Picture credit: Wikimedia