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Kyrgyz Authorities Crack Down on Opposition Rallies



Police in Kyrgyzstan have detained dozens of opposition protesters, cracking down on rallies against the landslide election of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

Demonstrators were blocked as they marched through the capital, Bishkek, Wednesday. Police also dispersed activists who were gathering in the outskirts of the capital.

The opposition accuses the government of rigging last week's election, which gave incumbent President Kurmanbek Bakiyev 76 percent of the vote. The election commission put his closest challenger, opposition candidate Almazbek Atambayev, far behind with 8.4 percent of the vote.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE, said the elections were marred by widespread irregularities to ensure a Bakiyev victory.

The OSCE said its monitors noted incidents of ballot box stuffing, multiple voting and even vote buying, and concluded that the polls did not meet "key international standards."

The United States and Russia have a strong interest in the Central Asian country, which hosts a U.S. air base that supplies American and NATO troops in nearby Afghanistan.

President Bakiyev took power in 2005 after violent street protests forced his predecessor, Askar Akayev, to resign.

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