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Tear gas & sounds of explosions: Kyrgyzstan police clash with crowds attempting to storm parliament building (VIDEOS)

Clashes erupted in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek as demonstrators angry with the outcome of Sunday’s election in the Central Asian state tried to storm the parliament building. Police employed tear gas and flashbang grenades.

A large rally at the city’s central Ala-Too Square started peacefully at first, with opposition leaders calling on both the crowd and police to refrain from provocative behavior. But after dark, footage emerged from Bishkek showing demonstrators trying to break the gates to the parliament’s inner grounds. Some of them climbed the fence and tossed stones at the building.

Police interfered to draw crowds away from the parliament, using tear gas and flashbang grenades. There have so far been no reports of any arrests being made.       

Only four parties – all of them being pro-government – out of 16 in the running were able to bypass the vote threshold and make it to the parliament after the election on Sunday. This led to 11 losing opposition groups rejecting the results of the vote and urging the people to come on to the streets. 

Several thousand people responded to the call, flocking to the capital’s center. The people carried national flags and chanted anti-government slogans, while opposition figures as well as some popular singers, actors and athletes, who also supported the cause, addressed them from the stage. They demanded a new and fair election to be held.

It was the dirtiest election the country had ever seen, Altynbek Sulaymanov, the leader of the opposition Bir Bol party told the local media, adding that Kyrgyzstan brought shame on itself before the whole world. A new election should be staged without the participation of the pro-government parties, he insisted.

The protesters said that they were eager to remain at Ala-Too Square as long as it takes for their demands to be met. They warned that a tent camp will be erected outside the presidential palaces just like the one in Kiev during the Maidan protests of 2014, which ended with the overthrow of then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.

Popular uprisings already saw two Kyrgyz leaders deposed since the Central Asian republic became independent after the fall of Soviet Union in 1991. Its first president, Askar Akayev, left office in 2005 as a result of the so-called ‘Tulip Revolution,’ while five years later Kurmanbek Bakiyev also fled the country amid street rallies.

The demands of the Kyrgyz demonstrators echo those of their counterparts in Belarus, which had been gripped by protests since the presidential election in early August. The opposition there also called for a new vote, insisting that longtime President Alexander Lukashenko has rigged the election in his favor. Despite mass arrests, thousands have been taking to the streets in the capital Minsk and other cities on weekends for two months now. However, the Belarusian authorities are so far reluctant to give in to the pressure.

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