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Power-hungry politicians behind Kyrgyz riots

October 08, 2013, 19:18 UTC+3

On October 7-8, several hundred people rallied in Karakol's central square

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Photo ITAR-TASS/ Maxim Slutsky

Photo ITAR-TASS/ Maxim Slutsky

BISHKEK, October 8 (Itar-Tass) - The Kyrgyz government believes that the political forces seeking to come to power but incapable of winning the election are behind the riots in the Issyk-Kul region.

"These actions /disturbances/ were dictated by mercantile interests of certain political forces, incapable of winning the general election, but craving for power at any cost, including by rocking the public and political situation, organizing riots and causing damage to the people and the country’s economy," the government said in a statement on Tuesday.

On October 7-8, several hundred people rallied in Karakol's central square demanding denunciation of the agreement with Canada's Centerra Gold Inc which is developing the Kumtor gold field. Several days ago, the Kyrgyz government and the Canadian company agreed to set up a joint venture which would continue to operate the Kumtor field on parity basis.

To demonstrate how serious they were, the protesters took hostage Emilbek Kaptagayev, the government's envoy in the Issyk-Kul region. On Monday evening, special task force police managed to free him, and drove the crowd from the square using tear gas and stun grenades.

Six persons were hurt in the clashes, including four police. Twenty-three rioters were detained and brought to Bishkek, according to the republic's Interior Ministry.

This sparked a new protest, this time, over the detention of the protesters. On Tuesday, some 350 residents of the village of Saruu blocked a regional road demanding their release.

Also, the Saruu protesters overturned a Honda at the entrance to the village and set it on fire. The car belonged to a district prosecutor, official reports said.

Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev demanded at a meeting with senior law-enforcement officials on Tuesday that the masterminds behind the riots be prosecuted.

"The president ordered law-enforcement bodies to act strictly within the framework of law, conduct an unbiased probe, and hold the masterminds and participants in the riots responsible," Atambayev's information department told Tass.

The government's statement said "attempts are being made to organize such rallies in other regions of the country, under the pretext to protect ordinary citizens' interests."

But the language of ultimatums selected by rally masterminds is unacceptable, and the authorities will continue to "take tough measures to prevent the destabilization of the public and political situation in a given region and in the whole country," the government said.

Meanwhile, residents of the town of Naryn staged a rally in support for the demands issued by Issyk-Kul region residents. The Opposition plans a protest action in the administrative center of the Talas region on October 10.

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