BISHKEK, August 8. / TASS /. A high-stakes standoff is underway in Kyrgyzstan, where clashes have erupted between police officers and supporters of former President Almazbek Atambayev. Yet, the situation remains stable, a representative of the Internal Affairs Ministry told TASS on Thursday.
"The situation throughout the republic remains stable and law enforcement officials have everything under control," the representative said. According to him, the maintenance of public order in the country "is carrying on as usual." "Law enforcement agencies are ensuring public order and safety," the source said.
On Wednesday, federal security forces in the village of Koi-Tash, in the Chuy Region attempted to take Atambayev into custody but failed. Supporters of the ex-president who guarded the residence fought off the raid and took six agents hostage. After that, clashes broke out between the additional police officers that arrived at the scene and Atambayev's proponents. As a result of the confrontation, one officer died and another 45 people were injured along with a local news journalist, a former lawmaker, and several police officers, including the chief of the Chuy regional police department, who is currently in a coma.
"Four people were hospitalized with gunshot wounds," the Kyrgyz Ministry of Health informed. Deterred by the fierce resistance of the ex-president’s supporters, security officials were forced to leave the premises eight hours after the storming of the residence.
Kyrgyzstan’s President Sooronbay Jeenbekov has cut his vacation short in light of the recent developments and returned to the capital city, Bishkek. The presidential press service reported that the country’s Security Council would hold a meeting on August 8.
Meanwhile, according to the Kyrgyz Interior Ministry, the attempt to forcefully detain Atambayev was legal, since the ex-president is suspected of committing a crime. "The investigation revealed Atambayev’s direct involvement in the unlawful release of mob boss, Aziz Batukayev. According to the case materials, on Atambayev's direct order, the illegal release of Batukayev from his places of detention was organized," the ministry said.
Charges against Atambayev
On June 27, Kyrgyzstan’s parliament voted to strip Atambayev of immunity and his ex-president status. The former head of state’s lawyer said the move violated the country’s constitution.
Atambayev is accused of having been involved in corruption schemes related to the reconstruction of Bishkek’s thermal power plant and historical museum; the unlawful release of mob boss Aziz Batukayev; illicit deliveries of coal to Bishkek’s thermal power plants; reassigning land plots in the country’s Issyk-Kul region and illegally obtaining a plot of land to build a residential house in the Koi-Tash settlement, in the Chuy region.
The former president claims that the country’s incumbent head of state is persecuting him for political reasons. Atambayev earlier ignored three interrogation requests issued by the Interior Ministry and warned that he would put up armed resistance against any attempts to arrest him.
Atambayev served as Kyrgyzstan's president in 2011-2017. He was the country’s first head of state to step down after his first term had expired. In the spring of 2018, Atambayev admitted that he had major differences with incumbent President Sooronbay Jeenbekov.