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Kyrgyz Opposition Suspends Protest

  • Lisa McAdams

Kyrgyzstan's political opposition has suspended its protest action in the capital, Bishkek, after police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse thousands of demonstrators from the capital's main square, late Thursday. VOA's Lisa McAdams in Moscow reports the demonstrators had been in the streets the past eight days, calling for President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's resignation.

Kyrgyz opposition deputy Kubatbek Baibolov announced the suspension of the indefinite rally Friday during a news conference with reporters.

Baibolov said the opposition had taken every measure to ensure a peaceful, non-violent protest. But he said the government staged what he called "provocations."

Baibolov said Kyrgyz authorities should use video of the events to determine who may have instigated the riots on a downtown square outside the presidential palace.

Kyrgyzstan's Prime Minister, Almaz Atambayev, blames the opposition for the unrest - specifically, more radical opposition leader, Felix Kulov, President Bakiyev's former prime minister.

Officers of Kyrgyz special services said in a written statement that Mr. Kulov has been summoned for questioning, along with the head of his headquarters, Omurbek Suvanaliyev.

According to the Kyrgyz Interior Ministry, more than 30 opposition activists were arrested in the police crackdown. Kyrgyzstan's Health Ministry says eight people were injured in the clashes, four of whom remain hospitalized with head injuries.

Russian television Friday broadcast pictures of Bishkek's nearly deserted city center, with city workers sweeping the streets of leaflets calling for President Bakiyev's resignation.

Bakiyev came to power amid similar protests two years ago that also descended into violence, forcing then-President Askar Akayev from power.

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