Kyrgyzstan detains 15 in ‘coup plot’ before vote

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Security services say the detainees were planning hundreds of youths to protest against the outcome of the vote.

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Security services in Kyrgyzstan say they have detained 15 “active members” of a coup plot involving lawmakers and former officials ahead of a parliamentary vote over the weekend.

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The state’s National Security Committee said in a statement Friday that the detainees were part of a plan to bring in “1,000 aggressive youths” to protest the results of the vote.

“Following the announcement of the results of the upcoming parliamentary elections … the group planned to organize mass protests [the capital] Bishkek and subsequently to escalate the situation, inciting conflict with the forces of law and order and violent seizure of power,” the statement said.

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The security services “received irrefutable evidence of criminal activity, including deputies, of a group of individuals led by certain destructive political forces. [parliament] and former high-ranking officers”.

Without naming those detained, the committee also said it had “found and seized firearms, ammunition and drugs” in a raid on the office of the alleged group.

Kyrgyzstan, a poor, mountainous Central Asian country that has overthrown three presidents since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, hopes to avoid further instability by the first parliamentary vote as unrest hit the current leader in power last year. Japarov was brought.

Independent candidates excluded

After rising to the presidency from prison cell during the crisis after the last vote, Zaparov pledged to hold free and fair elections.

But electoral officials have already kicked out one candidate and fined the other, both considered independent voices in the outgoing parliament.

Last year, the president was serving a sentence for hostage-taking before his release amid protests over alleged vote-buying by pro-government parties.

He has always insisted that the allegation was a punishment for his campaign to nationalize a major gold mine, on which the resource-poor economy largely depends.

The new administration moved in May to seize the Kumtor mine from the Canadian company that controlled it, Centra Gold, citing environmental violations.

Sentra, whose operations in Kumtor accounted for 12.5 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s GDP in 2020, has denied the claims and is opposing the seizure in an international court.

Critics of Japarov have said the head of state is repeating the mistakes of his predecessors by arresting potential rivals after overseeing constitutional changes that strengthened his position.

Kyrgyzstan hosts a Russian military base and looks to China next door for loans and investments.

Experts say it is unclear how much trust the new government has from Russia, whose leader Vladimir Putin has expressed distaste for street protests and the sudden overthrow of then-president Soronbey Jeenbekov.

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