08/08/2019, 09.15
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Bishkek, special forces try in vain to arrest the former president

The military operation failed due to opposition armed groups.  One officer died among soldiers and supporters of Almazbek Atambayev;  47 people were injured.  President Jeenbekov convenes a Security Council meeting.  Parliament will hold an emergency session.

Bishkek (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Kyrgyzstan has sunk into a serious political crisis that threatens to undermine the stability of the country: last night the elite security forces tried to arrest former president Almazbek Atambayev at his residence in Koy-Tash (south of the capital), but supporters of the 62-year-old Social Democratic politician repelled them.  The raid began last night and continued until the early hours of dawn.  A soldier lost his life in the clashes;  almost 47 people - 23 civilians and 24 soldiers - were injured.  Eyewitnesses have released video images of the operation on the internet.

 The Kyrgyzstan parliament made several criminal charges against Atambayev and deprived him of immunity in June, when he was succeeded by the current head of state, Sooronbai Jeenbekov.  Atambayev - who ruled Kyrgyzstan from 2011 to 2017 - had increased security on his estate in recent weeks, while tensions with his successor increased;  until last night, when the National Security Committee (GKNB) stated that the special forces were undertaking "an operation to arrest the former president".  The GKNB stated that the soldiers were equipped "only with rubber bullets", while Atambayev's supporters had lethal ammunition.

Atambayev is accused of a series of crimes, including abuse of power, corruption and embezzlement.  The former president ignored three summonses issued by the police for a case related to the surprising release from prison of a notorious underworld boss during his presidency.  Last month, Atambayev went to Moscow for talks with President Vladimir Putin.  However, the Russian leader expressed his support for Jeenbekov, urging the country to "unite around the current president".

President Jeenbekov, who has interrupted his holidays to return to Bishkek, has called a meeting of the Security Council this morning and parliament will hold an emergency session.  Atambayev spoke on the television channel he owned after the failure of the discussions between the Ministry of the Interior and its representatives.  The Kyrgyz people "will never live on their knees, they will never be a flock of sheep, they will never be the slave of the dominant clan," he said.

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