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BISHKEK, July 15. / TASS/. The Foreign Ministry of Kyrgyzstan has said on Wednesday that the awarding of the Human Rights Defenders prize by the US Department of State to Kyrgyz citizen Azimzhan Askarov who was convicted for inciting interethnic discord is aimed at violating interethnic peace in Kyrgyzstan.
"Askarov was convicted by all courts in the republic for inciting interethnic discord, organizing mass unrest, complicity in the murder of a law enforcement officer during the tragic events in June 2010," the Foreign Ministry said. It noted that "the US actions with the use of the interethnic issue caused serious damage to the bilateral relations."
In June 2010, clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks took place in southern Kyrgyzstan. Nearly 500 people died and 2,000 were injured.
The clashes followed the revolution and change of power in April 2010.
On April 7, 2010, from 15,000 to 35,000 supporters of the then Kyrgyzstani political opposition gathered on Bishkek’s central square to demand the resignation of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, whom they accused of usurpation of power, establishing of rule based on nepotism and clans, corruption and purges of dissenters.
A part of the protesters were armed already when they came to the spot. They seized weapons several hours before arriving at the central square when clashes occurred in the east of the city with units of the special assignment forces reporting to the State Committee for National Security and the Interior Ministry.
By that time, opposition forces had already gained control of the bulk of towns and villages in the northern part of the country and disturbances had broken out in some places in the south of the country.
Although Bakiyev ordered the troops guarding the government residence to open fire for effect at the crowds of protesters, he was unable to keep state power in his hands. He had to flee Bishkek and then Kyrgyzstan, making the Belarusian capital Minsk his home later on.
About nine opposition activists were killed during the storming of the government residence in Bishkek and several hundred others were injured. In spite of the heavy losses, the opposition managed to gain control of the capital city by nighttime on April 7, 2010.
These events brought about a major transformation of the country’s political system. Changes were made in the Constitution to boost the powers of parliament and restrict those of the President.