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Backers of the Ata Meken party leader say he fell victim to political gamesmanship ahead of presidential polls.28 February 2017
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 EurasiaNet.org.
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.
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