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Kyrgyz Opposition Leader Held on Graft Accusation

Backers of the Ata Meken party leader say he fell victim to political gamesmanship ahead of presidential polls.

28 February 2017

Supporters of Kyrgyz opposition leader Omurbek Tekebaev (pictured) say political motives ahead of a presidential election lay behind his arrest on corruption charges.


Tekebaev, 58, leader of the opposition Ata Meken party, was detained Sunday after landing at Bishkek’s Manas airport on a flight from Vienna.


The prosecutor general's office said Tekebaev is suspected of taking a $1 million bribe from Russian investor Leonid Mayevsky in 2010, Al Jazeera reports.


Mayevsky, according to investigators, claims the $1 million bribe to Tekebaev, then interim deputy prime minister, was for preferential access to the sale of a mobile phone provider, according to


Hundreds of supporters protested in the capital and other cities against Tekebaev’s arrest, which they fear may prevent him from running in November’s presidential polls.


A member of parliament for Ata Meken, Kanybek Imanaliyev, said Tekebaev denied any wrongdoing.


"He considers his detention … unwarranted and illegal and a continuation of political repressions," Imanaliyev said.


The party plans to hold a congress within a month and nominate him as its candidate for president, he told Al Jazeera.


Tekebaev and other Ata Meken figures have come under increased attack recently, particularly by Tekebaev’s bitter foe, President Almazbek Atambaev, EurasiaNet says.


Although Atambayev is not eligible for re-election, a December referendum backed by his allies in parliament approved a package of amendments significantly boosting the powers of the prime minister, potentially offering him a way to stay in power by switching jobs.


Atambaev denies any such plan. There is also speculation that he could install a loyal supporter as prime minister, Al Jazeera says.



  • A court in Bishkek yesterday ruled that Tekebaev’s detention should be extended until 25 April, AKIpress reports.


  • Two days before Tekebaev’s detention, leading Ata Meken member Almanbet Shykmamatov underwent lengthy interrogation by the GKNB security service in connection with different corruption allegations, EurasiaNet reported.


  • Earlier this month, the GKNB also questioned Aida Salyanova, an Ata Meken member and a former general prosecutor. Tekebaev and the others strongly opposed the referendum proposed by Atambaev.


  • Two Kyrgyz presidents have been ousted in popular uprisings since 2005. Both Tekebaev and Atambaev actively opposed Kurmanbek Akiev in the months before he was forced from office in 2010.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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