Kyrgyzstan Opposition Says It Seeks to Seize Control of Former Soviet Republic

Political opposition forces in Kyrgyzstan said they were seeking to seize power and form a new government after taking control of state buildings in the capital following elections that international monitors said were marred by allegations of voter fraud.

President Sooronbai Jeenbekov fled the presidential palace early Tuesday after demonstrations rocked the capital of this Central Asian country, but said in a video address from an unknown location later in the day that political groups had tried to oust him, using the elections as pretext to illegally grab power. His whereabouts was unclear.

People protesting the parliamentary vote attempt to enter a government building known as the White House Tuesday in Bishkek.



Photo:

vyacheslav oseledko/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Resource-rich Kyrgyzstan, which has been a stage for competing Russian, Chinese and U.S. interests since independence from the Soviet Union, has seen a quick succession of governments in recent years, including two presidents toppled by revolution in 2005 and 2010.

The country is a member of a collective-defense alliance with Moscow and several other post-Soviet states and has maintained good relations with Russia, which has mentioned expanding its military base in the country.

The U.S. also used Kyrgyzstan as a strategic hub for operations during the height of its war in Afghanistan, though that base was closed in 2014 amid pressure from Moscow to limit Washington’s influence in the region.

Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow hoped for a resolution to the instability in the country. Russia maintains a Soviet-legacy air base there, which its armed forces said was put on high alert amid the violence.

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A damaged office at the White House building that houses Kyrgyzstan’s presidential administration and parliament after it was seized by protesters.



Photo:

Abylai Saralayev/Zuma Press

“We are concerned but hope that all political forces find the ability to work within the framework of the constitution,” he said during a briefing to journalists, adding that there had been no conversations between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mr. Jeenbekov.

The speaker of Kyrgyzstan’s parliament resigned Tuesday following unrest that injured 500, according to local police. Deputy Speaker Mirlan Bakirov said parliament would convene on Wednesday to impeach Mr. Jeenbekov if he doesn’t resign.

“The parliament will create a special commission to carry out impeachment procedures for the Kyrgyz president,” Mr. Bakirov told Russian news agency Interfax.

He said parliament also would consider opposition candidates for the post of prime minister.

Kyrgyzstan’s Central Election Committee said it was annulling the results of the vote held over the weekend that saw only two parties, one linked to Mr. Jeenbekov, make it past a threshold to enter parliament.

Vote monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said in a statement that the elections had been tainted by credible allegations of vote buying.

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A gate outside the White House building that was removed.



Photo:

igor kovalenko/Shutterstock

Protesters and looters occupied several of Kyrgyzstan’s larger, foreign-owned mines in the midst of the instability.

A spokeswoman for Russian-Kazakh mining company Alliance Altyn said that men had swarmed the site of one of its operations, looting ore and setting fires.

“Control has not yet been re-established,” said spokeswoman Kasiyet Karacholokova.

Write to Thomas Grove at [email protected]

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Appeared in the October 7, 2020, print edition as ‘Kyrgyzstan Rebels Move to Seize Control.’



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