Mob in Kyrgyzstan’s capital storms headquarters of Bakiyev-linked party ahead of election

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Kyrgyz mob storms party headquarters ahead of vote

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — A mob stormed the headquarters of a leading political party in the capital of Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday, ratcheting up tensions days ahead of a decisive parliamentary election in the Central Asian country.

Protesters seized the building of the nationalist Ata-Zhurt party, which includes several representatives of the former government led by President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was ousted during bloody street protests in April.

Ata-Zhurt is expected to make a strong showing in Sunday’s election, with independent polls putting it in third place with at least 10 percent of the vote.

People identifying themselves as relatives of people killed in the April riots said former Bakiyev officials should be held accountable for the deaths of people killed by government troops.

The protesters gathered outside parliament in the morning calling for Ata-Zhurt to be disqualified from the vote. A crowd of angry demonstrators later congregated at the party’s headquarters and forced their way into the building.

Young men looted the building and threw party banners and leaflets out of the window onto a bonfire set alight outside.

The attack on the Ata-Zhurt building threatens to inflame tensions as an array of parties fight aggressively to claim seats in parliament.

The power of parliament was significantly boosted in June after changes to the constitution were overwhelming approved in a national referendum.

Ata-Zhurt is seen as likely to try to form a coalition with other anti-government parties to overturn the constitutional changes.

“We are against Ata-Zhurt because they want to bring back the old system and they want to imprison all the revolutionaries and the current government,” said Artur Abdykalykov, a protester who said he had been injured during the April riots.

The incident appeared to be in reaction to video posted online over the past few days apparently showing Ata-Zhurt leader Kamchibek Tashiyev vowing to return Bakiyev to Kyrgyzstan from Belarus, were he currently lives in exile.

Ata-Zhurt official Sadyr Zhaparov said the video had been tampered with and denied that Tashiyev had made the remarks.

“We believe that this is an act of provocation by the ruling parties,” Zhaparov said, declining to elaborate.

will not be displayed