Police in Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday arrested around 200 protestors demonstrating against alleged fraud during last week’s presidential election in the Central Asian state.
Every protestor in the crowd of some 200 people was detained by police only about 15 minutes after the rally began, with two or three officers, some dressed in plain clothes, for each demonstrator.
The protestors had been shouting slogans such as “Return the stolen power!” and were about to march on the presidental palace in the centre of the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek when the police moved in.
Arrested protestors were dragged away to buses. Police also attempted to detain an AFP journalist, apparently confusing her for one of the protestors.
The protestors were supporters of Almazbek Atambayev, the main opposition candidate in last Thursday’s election, who denounced the vote as “illegitimate” citing widespread fraud.
Incumbent Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev won the election with 76.43 per cent of the vote compared to 8.39 per cent for Atambayev, according to the official results which are disputed by the opposition.
Kyrgyzstan is an impoverished former Soviet republic with a history of political violence.
The mountainous country is home to a US airbase used to support operations in Afghanistan, as well as a nearby Russian military base.