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Kyrgyzstan opposition claims power after storming government buildings

Opposition groups in Kyrgyzstan said they had seized power in the strategically-important Central Asian country on Tuesday after taking control of government buildings in the capital during protests over a parliamentary election.



a group of people standing around a fire: People protesting the results of an election gather Tuesday by a bonfire in front of the main government building, known as the White House, in Bishkek.


© VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO/AFP/Getty Images
People protesting the results of an election gather Tuesday by a bonfire in front of the main government building, known as the White House, in Bishkek.

President Sooronbai Jeenbekov said the country, which hosts a Russian air base and a large Canadian-controlled gold mine, was facing an attempted coup d’etat. He ordered security forces not to open fire on protesters however.

One person was killed and 590 wounded in unrest overnight, the government said. The opposition said it had freed Almazbek Atambayev, a former president jailed on corruption charges, and was already discussing the lineup of a provisional government.

It was not clear what role, if any, Atambayev would receive, and Jeenbekov, the sitting president, showed no immediate signs of relinquishing power, although the central election commission was reported to have annulled the results of the October 4 election.

Local news website 24.kg said the commission took the decision at a meeting held after the storming of the government headquarters.

Several opposition politicians urged the outgoing parliament to install a provisional cabinet in order to legitimize a transfer of power.

Kyrgyzstan borders China and is a close ally of Russia and has long been a platform for geopolitical competition between Moscow, Washington and Beijing. It has a history of political volatility — two of its presidents have been toppled by revolts in the past 15 years.

The Russian embassy to Kyrgyzstan said in a statement it supported resolving the matter through legal means while ensuring people’s safety and domestic stability.

Burnt out cars littered Bishkek, the capital, on Tuesday morning after protesters took control of the main government building, known as the White House, which briefly caught fire before emergency services put out the blaze.

Debris from inside, including government papers, and office furniture, was strewn outside after protesters ransacked parts of it.

Interior Minister Kashkar Junushaliyev did not show up for work on Tuesday, a ministry spokesman said, saying that Kursan Asanov, an opposition politician and a former senior security official, had taken over as acting interior minister.

Police had been ordered to ensure citizens’ safety and prevent clashes and looting, the same spokesman said. Meanwhile, the second-largest gold deposit in Kyrgyzstan, Jeruy, was shut down by unidentified people on Tuesday, its Russian-owned operator said.



a person sitting at a dining room table: Documents are scattered across a room in the White House after it was ransacked by protesters.


© Abylai Saralayev/TASS/Getty Images
Documents are scattered across a room in the White House after it was ransacked by protesters.

Contested vote

Trouble erupted on Monday after police used teargas and water cannon to disperse thousands of people demonstrating against the results of a parliamentary election on Sunday which they demanded be annulled.

Western observers said the election, which appeared to have handed most seats to two establishment parties supporting closer links between the former Soviet republic and Russia, had been marred by vote-buying.

One of the

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Kyrgyzstan in Chaos After Protesters Seize Government Buildings

MOSCOW — Kyrgyzstan descended into political chaos on Tuesday after opposition groups seized control of Parliament and released their leaders from prison in protests over parliamentary elections they have denounced as rigged.

Under mounting pressure from the protesters, the country’s Central Electoral Commission annulled the results of the Sunday vote, a day after awarding the majority of seats to two political parties with ties to the president, Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

Overnight, a small group of protesters broke away from the main body and tried to gain entry to the White House, the main government building that hosts the Parliament and the presidential administration. After the police tried to disperse them, hundreds more joined in the assault and soon took control, according to photos and video footage from the scene.

On Tuesday, the streets of Bishkek were littered with burned out cars and piles of stones, while photos emerged of the broken down gates to the White House. Inside the building, videos and photos showed broken glass and piles of debris, including government papers, with protesters wandering around the offices. In the city, residents began to form volunteer brigades to deter looters.

One person was killed and at least 680 injured during the protests, the country’s Health Ministry said.

Mr. Jeenbekov’s office said on Tuesday that he was willing to meet with the leaders of all 16 parties that had competed in the election, in an effort to ease the tensions.

But it was not clear that he was still in control of the situation Tuesday morning, as protesters captured more government buildings, according to reports from local news websites, and started appointing their own government officials. The mayors of Bishkek, the capital, and the country’s second leading city, Osh, said they were resigning.

The opposition freed Mr. Jeenbekov’s predecessor, Almazbek Atambayev, who had been serving a 11-year sentence on corruption charges he had denounced as politically motivated. The opposition also freed several other prominent political figures, including two former prime ministers.

Seen as a somewhat pro-Russian figure, Mr. Atambayev had made the decision to close the American military facility in Kyrgyzstan that from 2001 to 2014 supported American military operations in Afghanistan. Under Mr. Atambayev, Kyrgyzstan became a member of the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union. Mr. Jeenbekov, his successor, also tried to maintain good relations with Moscow.

A mountainous Central Asian nation of 6.3 million, Kyrgyzstan is a former Soviet republic, next to China but strategically aligned with Russia. It has been the focus of geopolitical rivalry between Moscow, Beijing and Washington and other players since it gained independence after the Soviet collapse in 1991.

Kyrgyzstan has a long history of political strife, fueled by regional differences between the country’s north and south and pervasive clan politics. Two of its presidents have been toppled in violent revolts over the past 15 years. Unlike its neighbors, it enjoys a pluralistic system of government but one that has proved unstable in crises.

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Opposition in Kyrgyzstan claim power after storming government buildings

Opposition groups in Kyrgyzstan said they had seized power in the strategically-important Central Asian country on Tuesday after taking control of government buildings in the capital during protests over a parliamentary election.

President Sooronbai Jeenbekov said the country, which hosts a Russian air base and a large Canadian-controlled gold mine, was facing an attempted coup d’etat. He ordered security forces not to open fire on protesters, however one person was killed and 590 wounded in unrest overnight, the government said.

The opposition said it had freed Almazbek Atambayev, a former president jailed on corruption charges, and was already discussing the line-up of a provisional government. It was not clear what role, if any, Atambayev would receive, and Jeenbekov, the sitting president, showed no immediate signs of relinquishing power.

Kyrgyzstan borders China and is a close ally of Russia and has long been a platform for geopolitical competition between Moscow, Washington and Beijing. It has a history of political volatility; two of its presidents have been toppled by revolts in the past 15 years.

People protesting the results of a parliamentary vote gather by a bonfire in front of the seized main government building, known as the White House, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.Vyacheslav Oseledko / AFP – Getty Images

Burnt out cars littered Bishkek, the capital, on Tuesday morning after protesters took control of the main government building, known as the White House, which briefly caught fire before emergency services put out the blaze.

Debris from inside, including government papers, and office furniture, was strewn outside after protesters ransacked parts of it.

Interior Minister Kashkar Junushaliyev did not show up for work on Tuesday, a ministry spokesman said, saying that Kursan Asanov, an opposition politician and a former senior security official, had taken over as acting interior minister. Police had been ordered to ensure citizens’ safety and prevent clashes and looting, the same spokesman said.

Trouble erupted on Monday after police used teargas and water cannon to disperse thousands of people demonstrating against the results of a parliamentary election on Sunday which they demanded be annulled. Western observers said the election, which appeared to have handed most seats to two establishment parties supporting closer links between the former Soviet republic and Russia, had been marred by vote buying. One of the parties was close to Jeenbekov, the president.

Protesters gather in front of the government headquarters on the central square in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.Vladimir Voronin / AP

Police had broken up one protest late on Monday, but protesters later returned to Bishkek’s central square and broke into the White House, which houses both the president and parliament, local news websites Akipress and 24.kg reported.

Protesters then broke into the headquarters of the State Committee on National Security and freed former president Almazbek Atambayev, who was sentenced to a lengthy prison term this year on corruption charges after falling out with Jeenbekov, his successor.

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Opposition groups took over several more buildings, including

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