Kamchybek Tashiev has come a long way in the past year.
Last October, he was a prominent contender for Kyrgyzstan’s presidency. This October, he’s in a KGB holding cell, charged with trying to overthrow the government.
On Saturday, Tashiev abandoned his nod to non-violent protest, ending a three-day-old hunger strike, 24.kg reports. He had been hospitalized for what his supporters describe as a sharp deterioration in his health on Friday night; his lawyer said he lost 12 kilograms and called for Tashiev to be moved to house arrest. Some MPs urged him to preserve his strength for the legal battle ahead.
The argumentative nationalist leader of the Ata-Jurt party has been jailed since an October 3 rally, when he led a group of young men over the fence surrounding parliament. The initial jail term is to last two months while the case is investigated. Prosecutors say Tashiev’s actions, including calls for the crowd to seize power, were unconstitutional. Tashiev, a trained boxer, says he was demanding the nationalization of the country’s largest goldmine and was just trying to get to work.
Tashiev’s platform has been pretty consistent since his party lost its place in the ruling coalition in late 2011: He calls for the government to step down. He seems less interested in making legislation than uttering provocative statements on minority issues. His party took the most seats in parliament in October 2010, but has since been wracked by infighting.
But despite continuing protests in Jalal-Abad, a city near his home village where Tashiev is respected for his largesse, and smaller protests in Osh, his arrest and hunger strike have failed to provoke large-scale popular indignation.
That’s good news for the new government of Jantoro Satybaldiyev – the fourth premier since the violent overthrow of a crooked autocrat, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, in April 2010. Satybaldiyev has enough problems on his hands, such as widespread poverty and corruption.
Some hope Tashiev’s failure to take those issues into the street will mark the epilogue to a long period of turbulent politics in Kyrgyzstan. In any case, his detention is conveniently scheduled to last beyond municipal elections slated for November 25.