Kyrgyzstan. The year was marked by a political power struggle where several of President Almazbek Atambayev’s opponents and critics were arrested and imprisoned.
According to Countryaah.com, an appeals court ruled in January a life imprisonment case against human rights fighter and journalist Azimjon Askarov, ethnic Uzbek. He was made responsible for protests that led to ethnic violence and hundreds of dead in 2010. According to the defense, the verdict was politically motivated. Four opposition politicians were charged with conspiring to overthrow the government. Three of them were sentenced to between 12 and 20 years in prison. According to the defense, the court used manipulated sound recording as evidence.
A Turkish cargo plane crashed at the beginning of the year in a village outside Bishkek’s airport with the crew and 34 villagers as death victims. The accident was followed by political strife, in which the opposition claimed that the plane was carrying goods intended for President Atambayev.
The country’s party leader Omurbek Tekebajev initiated a parliamentary commission to investigate the issue, but in February Tekebajev was arrested on charges of corruption. Supporters demonstrated in Bishkek demanding his release, and protests grew around the country. According to the opposition, Tekebaev had been arrested so that he would not be able to publish evidence of the shipment of the crashed plane. The homeland appointed Tekebajev as its candidate for the fall presidential election, and another opposition politician, Sadyr Japarov, also planned to run for election. But both were hindered.
Japarov was arrested when he returned from three years in exile. His supporters protested, the police fired grenades and many protesters were arrested. In August, Japarov was sentenced to eleven and a half years in prison on charges of hooliganism, death threats and for taking hostages during protests at a gold mine. According to Japarov, the prosecution was politically motivated.
Tekebaev was sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of corruption. According to the prosecution, he had taken bribes when he sat in the government in 2010. A co-accused was given the same penalty. Their assets were confiscated and they were banned from holding public office for three years. Both denied all charges.
Another opposition politician, Kanatbek Isayev, was arrested shortly before the presidential election accused of planning a coup to take power unless opposition candidate Omurbek Babanov won the election. Almambet Sjykmamatov from the Fatherland was indicted for corruption, and several of the party’s leading politicians were threatened by similar charges before the presidential election.
President Atambayev could not stand for re-election as only one term of office is allowed. The ruling Social Democrats therefore appointed Prime Minister Sooronbay Jeenbekov as their presidential candidate. He resigned to campaign, and to his successor was appointed Sapar Isakov, the president’s chief of staff.
Jeenbekov’s main challenger in the October elections was the opposition candidate and oil magnate Omurbek Babanov, who was accused by the regime of supporting Kazakhstan. According to the official result, Jeenbekov won with 54.7% of the vote against Babanov’s 33.5%. Babanov claimed electoral fraud, but despite the purchase of votes, OSCE observers accepted the election.
After the election, the government decided to say no to aid equivalent to about $ 100 million from Kazakhstan, which was accused of trying to influence the electoral movement in support of the opposition.
The private television station September was accused of broadcasting extremist material and was closed following court decisions. The channel had interviewed a former police chief who said that government politicians had used state funds to inflame the ethnic violence in Osh 2010.
Journalist Zulpukar Sapanov was sentenced to four years in prison accused of reducing the role of Islam in a book and contributing to creating a negative attitude towards Muslims. Sapanov declared himself innocent.
According to the United Nations Population Fund, about one in five Kyrgyz girls and young women are kidnapped to be forced into marriage. Many of the victims are raped for their shameful return to their family. Since 2013, groom is illegal and even child marriage is prohibited. Despite this, nearly 12,000 girls and young women are estimated to be stripped of marriage every year.
During the year, Kyrgyzstan was visited by Uzbekistan’s new president, the first visit by a Uzbek head of state since 2000. There were signs of thawing weather in the chilly relations of both neighboring countries. Several border stations were opened after being closed since the bloody ethnic riots in 2010. Hundreds of thousands of ethnic uz cups live in Kyrgyzstan.