Kyrgyz Protest Party Leader’s Independence Remark

September 27, 2020 09:17 GMT – By RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service

Hundreds of people have staged a protest in Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek after a leaked video appeared to show a prominent politician suggesting that the former Soviet republic should reconsider its independence.

The demonstration on September 27 came as the Central Asian nation prepares for parliamentary elections on October 4.

In the leaked video, Marat Amankulov, leader of the pro-government Birimdik party, appears to say that the past “30 years of independence shows that Kyrgyzstan must go back home.”

He added that the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union (EES), which includes post-Soviet states Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, should become a single country.

Protesters on September 27 called on election authorities to bar Amankulov and his party from running in the elections.

Waving national flags, the protesters chanted: “Don’t be a slave!”

The remarks were purportedly made by Amankulov during a meeting with Russian politicians earlier this year.

In a statement issued after the video was widely circulated on social media, Amankulov described the leak as a “provocation” and said his remarks had been taken out of context.

“Independence is the greatest achievement of our people. Preserving and strengthening the statehood of Kyrgyzstan is the sacred duty of every citizen,” he said.

Amankulov’s Birimdik party is among 16 registered for the parliamentary elections.

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