Kyrgyzstan's ex-leader evades arrest as supporters shield him

Kyrgyzstan's ex-leader evades arrest as supporters shield him

PanARMENIAN.Net - Elite security forces attempted to arrest Almazbek Atambayev, a former president of Kyrgyzstan, at his house on Wednesday, but his supporters kept them at bay and killed at least one soldier, according to the authorities and local media outlets, Reuters reports.

Parliament had accused Atambayev of corruption and stripped him of immunity from prosecution in June, after he had a falling out with President Sooronbai Jeenbekov of Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic that is closely allied with Moscow.

The Kyrgyz State Committee on National Security confirmed that special forces were seeking to detain Atambayev at a village outside Bishkek, the capital. The committee said its forces had used rubber bullets.

A television station controlled by the former president broadcast footage in which gunshots could be heard and armed men could be seen wearing camouflage and bulletproof vests.

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Two news websites, 24.kg and Akipress.kg, said operatives had entered Atambayev’s house in the village, Koi Tash, while a helicopter flew overhead.

But a correspondent for April, the television station controlled by Atambayev, said that his supporters had overpowered security forces. Another news website kloop.kg, showed footage of his supporters celebrating as they led disarmed men out of the property.

One member of the security forces died from a gunshot wound, Kyrgyzstan’s Health Ministry said, and about two dozen people were wounded.

Later, several news websites posted footage of clashes between the police and Atambayev’s supporters, who were blocking the road to his house to prevent a potential second raid.

Since Atambayev lost his immunity, the police have repeatedly asked him to come in for questioning, which he has refused to do, dismissing the requests as illegal. He met with President Vladimir Putin of Russia in Moscow in late July, but in a statement afterward the Russian president expressed support for Jeenbekov, the current president. Jeenbekov came to power in 2017 with Atambayev’s support and they used to be close allies. But he sidelined Atambayev last year by reshuffling senior security officials and wresting control over the governing ruling party from Atambayev.

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