Protestors were back on the streets of Jalal-Abad on Monday to support a nationalist legislator charged with trying to violently seize power in Kyrgyzstan.
Late Friday, a court in Bishkek ruled that Kamchybek Tashiev must spend two months in a detention center run by the State Committee on National Security while investigators look into his October 3 calls for the government to be overthrown. That day, Tashiev led a crowd of young men over a fence surrounding parliament, before claiming he was just trying to get to work.
Tashiev, Sadyr Japarov and Talant Mamytov, all from the Ata-Jurt (Fatherland) party, face up to 20 years in prison.
Tashiev takes his role as an opposition leader in parliament seriously. He is most often in the news for calling for the government to resign. But the October 3 rally – which was ostensibly organized to call for the nationalization of the country’s largest goldmine – was poorly planned and few think he had intended to force out the government. Instead, members of his party say he got caught up in the moment.
It was not a coup attempt, but “just a stupid move,” Fergananews quoted his colleague Jyldyz Joldosheva, also a deputy with the Ata-Jurt party, as saying.
At the Monday rally in Jalal-Abad, in southern Kyrgyzstan, many of the supporters calling for Tashiev’s release were from his home village, Barpy, some seven kilometers outside of town, according to a deputy interior minister. Tashiev has invested heavily in his native region, which could help explain the support. Some estimates put the number of protestors at over 1,000. At least nine women have declared an indefinite hunger strike, AKIpress reported.
One question over the weekend was if Tashiev – who has, through his lawyer, asked his supporters not to rally – can draw enough support throughout the country to force prosecutors to back down. Other than the daily protests in Jalal-Abad, where supporters have periodically blocked the country’s main highway, demonstrations have been lackluster. Just in case, though, on Friday night hundreds of policemen surrounded the Bishkek courtroom where the judge called for Tashiev, Japarov and Mamytov to be held in custody.
In Jalal-Abad, supporters say they will march on the capital, if necessary. One supporter promised 11,000 in Bishkek, according to the Komsomolskaya Pravda tabloid, which poked a bit of fun at the idea of so many “pilgrims” trying to get to the capital – at least eight hours away over two mountain passes – at once.
“If all the detained deputies aren’t released immediately, then lots of bloodshed will be unavoidable,” said the supporter, Toktokan Paizulaeva. “We’re barely managing to hold back a huge mass of people who are ready to go to Bishkek at any moment.”
It seems, at least for now, that Bishkek has weathered its latest political crisis. The protests in Jalal-Abad don’t appear large enough to destabilize the government. But some are wondering how far President Almazbek Atambayev’s administration plans to push.
On October 8, news agencies reported that authorities has charged a former military prosecutor, Kubatbek Kozhonaliyev, for participating in the alleged coup attempt, apparently for passing a microphone to a speaker at the rally.