Kyrgyz authorities launched a crackdown of the democratic opposition in the country on Sunday, Oct. 23. Among those arrested was Ravshan Djeyenbekov, an outspoken and well-known critic of Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine.
Kyiv Post has earlier reported (see: The Country Where Opposing Putin’s War In Ukraine Can Land Journalists In Jail) on the previous arrests of Ravshan Djeyenbekov, a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Djeyenbekov has been outspoken in fighting the Kyrgyz government’s support for policies that he argues are more beneficial to Moscow than to Bishkek. As a result of his political activism, Djeyenbekov, a former Member of Parliament and Ambassador, who studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has been jailed and his home searched multiple times.
Djeyenbekov, who is being held at the prison “SIZO-1” has been charged with 12 violations of criminal law. Additionally, others in his working circle were arrested, including those at his news broadcast station NEXT TV. NEXT TV provides alternative and independent information, something that sets it apart from the rest of the Kyrgyz media space, which is overwhelmingly pro-Russian. Earlier, due to having an online television channel where guests frequently criticized Russia’s war in Ukraine, Djeyenbekov was jailed and the staff of his television station were imprisoned.
The pretext for the arrests was the democratic oppositions’ vocal rejection of the Government’s plans to transfer the Kempir-Abad Reservoir to Uzbekistan. Critics have argued that charging the nation’s leading human rights and political opposition leaders with “organizing a mass riot,” was little more than a justification for a brazen violation of the Kyrgyz Constitution’s right to free speech and right to peaceful assembly.
In his earlier interview with Kyiv Post, Djeyenbekov had said that “No matter how severe the challenges I face, I know that I must be strong and defend what is right. If I do not speak up now for the free press, or if I were to abandon my fight by making a deal with the Prosecutor’s Office, I would be abandoning what I have fought for my entire life.”
He concluded that, “If we look at the situation today in Ukraine, it’s clear that Putin’s evil knows no limits. That’s why I have been openly against [Putin] for two decades already. Anyone who sees the terrible human rights abuses in Ukraine – a total tragedy – and does not react by saying that ‘Putin is a threat to world peace,’ is lost.”
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