Where’s the march? Atambaev seems to back down
Kyrgyzstan, Photoblog, Podcast, Politics and SocietyNo Comment
Yesterday, July 29 2009, Almazbek Atambaev, who lost presidential elections and called elections illegal, and his supporters attempted to organize open-ended demonstrations and march towards the center of the city. However, they were stopped on their way by law enforcement bodies, who effectively dispersed the crowd and took into custody dozens of people. Leaders of the United Peoples Movement, where Atambaev is a member, later stated they would march to Balykchy city of Issik Kul oblast on July 30 2009, where many of their supporters are being held in custody.
When I arrived the Social Democratic Party’s headquarters at 9:45 am today, there were about 30-40 people standing in front of the building waiting the march to begin. Almost half of the small crowd were journalists from local and international media. By 10:15 the crowd enlarged a bit. People waiting for opposition members to come out and tell about the furthers steps.
Suddenly, instead of opposition members, Sumar Nasiza, Deputy Prosecutor General, and a high ranking official from the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) appeared in front of SDPK’s HQ. The state officials had a small meeting in public with Bakyt Beshimov, chairman the only opposition party represented in the parliament the Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan. During the meeting, the authorities officially warned opposition members that any marches held in Bishkek and outskirts of the city would be stopped by the law enforcement bodies “by legal measures.” They explained that it was due to the security measures on the eve of CSTO‘s summit in Cholpon Ata, Kyrgyzstan.
After meeting, all of them – Sumar Nasiza and official from MIA, Azim Beknazarov, and Bakyt Beshimov – went to the office of Almazbek Atambaev, where they had a meeting behind the closed doors. After 15-20 minutes, they came out of the office of Atambaev. The state officials said that they told Atambaev about the possible results if opposition organized marches. Almazbek Atambaev appeared after officials left, and gave a public speech, where he said that the United People’s Movement had decided to cancel the march as he “did not want to risk people’s freedom and security.” The crowd insisted on marching to Balykchy city and release the arrested supporters of opposition. Atambaev told that he would go to Balykchy himself soon. However, he did not tell the time saying he could also be stopped on the way. There were about 150 people in the crowd during the speech of Atambaev.
Podcast: Atambaev’s speech to the crowd
After Atambaev and other opposition leaders went in the offices, the crowd started dispersing. Journalists were leaving. But it was early to leave. Deputy Prosecutor General and his colleague from MIA appeared again. They went to Bakyt Beshimovs office, where they had a meeting behind the closed doors with the leaders of opposition. Bakyt Beshimov later told that they discussed the release of opposition supporters who are being held in Balykchy and other parts of the country.
Bakyt Beshimov tells what they have discussed with officials
I left the SDPK’s HQ after that feeling nothing news worthy was going to happen.
PS. The other day I heard local journalists betting on how long opposition can march before they get stopped. Many of them were saying they would not leave the SDPK’s HQ…