Wed, 05 Aug 2020

BISHKEK -- A psychiatric examination has been ordered for arrested former Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev, the Interior Ministry says.

The ministry said on December 9 that psychiatrists will examine Atambaev and 15 co-defendants to determine whether the accused are fit to stand trial over a deadly two-day standoff between security forces and supporters of the ex-president in August.

The former leader was arrested on August 8 after he surrendered to police following the clashes.

The move to detain Atambaev was sparked by his refusal to obey three subpoenas calling him to the Interior Ministry for questioning in an investigation of his alleged involvement in the illegal release of a jailed organized-crime boss in 2013.

The standoff between security forces and his supporters resulted in one death of a security officer and more than 170 injuries -- 79 of them sustained by law-enforcement officers.

The violence underscored a power struggle between Atambaev and his handpicked successor, Sooronbai Jeenbekov, that has raised fears of instability in the Central Asian nation.

The former president is suspected of committing several crimes, including organization of murder, organization of mass disturbances, and taking servicemen hostage during the clashes at his residence in August.

Atambaev has rejected all the accusations, insisting that his arrest was politically motivated.

Kyrgyzstan saw a smooth and peaceful transfer of power from Atambaev, a northerner, to southerner Jeenbekov, which was welcomed by the international community after presidential changes -- in 2005 and 2010 -- came after violent rioting.

Once close allies, relations between the two soured after the state prosecutor charged Atambaev on the basis of accusations leveled against him by a legislature loyal to Jeenbekov.

Several of Atambaev's close allies have already been arrested on corruption charges -- some of them were handed lengthy prison terms, some are currently on trial.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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