Kyrgyz politician’s arrest stirs protest
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — Hundreds of people protested Sunday in Kyrgyzstan after authorities detained a prominent opposition leader on fraud and corruption charges that his supporters say are politically motivated.
Omurbek Tekebayev was arrested early Sunday after arriving at the country’s main airport outside Bishkek, the capital, on a flight from Vienna.
About 300 people gathered in front of the State Committee for National Security in Bishkek later in the day to call for Tekebayev’s release.
“The detention of the famous politician Tekebayev at night in the airport looks like the detention of a terrorist,” former Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva told journalists.
The State Committee for National Security said the charges against Tekebayev are related to his time as deputy prime minister, when he is accused of receiving a $1 million bribe from a Russian businessman.
Tekebayev, the leader of Kyrgyzstan’s Ata-Meken party, has denied the charges and returned from abroad despite knowing he could face detention. Members of Ata-Meken at the protest said his arrest was illegal because of procedural violations.
Kyrgyzstan has opened a string of criminal cases against opposition figures in recent months that critics allege are politically motivated.